Fitness & Training, Strength fitness

The ultimate guide to perfect abs

Having well-defined abdominal muscles is not the only reason to strengthen this part of the body. The 3
muscle groups that make up the abdominal muscles are useful for maintaining good posture, avoiding back
pain and improving performance in all sports. Find out how to work your abs according to your goals.

Abdominals in a nutshell

abs muscle training strength performance woman

The secret of a beautiful, muscular belly, the abdominal muscles are the object of much attention from
sportsmen and women of all levels. What exactly are they made of and what are their functions? Learn more in
this guide!

Muscles of the rectus abdominis

The rectus abdominis extends from the pubic bone to the rib cage on either side of the navel. These long
muscles are used for breathing out and bending over. They form the central part of the famous chocolate bars.

Transverse abdominal muscles

The transverse muscles are part of the deep abdominal muscles. They are involved in breathing and coughing,
but their main role is to hold the viscera in place. If you suffer from lower back pain, strengthening them could
be your solution.

Internal and external oblique muscles

The oblique muscles, large and triangular, occupy the sides of the abdomen, the internal ones being located
under the external ones. They are mobilised with each rotation of the torso or pelvis and participate in the
sheathing of the visceral area. To say goodbye to love handles, you can turn to them. These muscles also
ensure stable support, good force transfer and better resistance to effort.

Good practices to strengthen your abdominals

abs muscle training strength performance woman

As you will have understood, strengthening your abdominal muscles is of major benefit for your daily life as
well as for your sporting activities. Here are the main points to know to build up your abs:
● Instead of training every day (at the risk of getting bored or, worse, injured), aim for 2 to 3 sessions per
● Aim for quality rather than quantity: 5-10 crunches done correctly with deep breathing and good
posture will have a much better long-term impact than 30 quick crunches that could cause back pain.
● Include abs in your warm-up if you are doing another activity (cardio or strength). You will be more
focused and have better control of your movements and breathing.
● Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. The deep abs are not visible, but don’t you
feel more toned and stable on your feet? Well done, you are already rewarded for your efforts!

Exercises to try for more muscular abs

plank woman muscle back physical

To incorporate abs into your workout routine, here are some basic exercises:
● Crunches: controversial because they are often performed incorrectly, these exercises are the best
known for building up the abdominal muscles. They consist of lying on the floor, knees bent and feet
flat, then raising the chest. Keep your back straight without arching, and if you wish, try the gentler
version for the lower back, with your legs on a chair. Repeat the move 10-30 times depending on your
fitness level and goals, breathing deeply and taking your time. To strengthen your side muscles as well,
try chest-rotation crunches: with each repetition, touch one knee with the opposite elbow. To toughen
things up, try bicycle crunches, by bending your arms to your sides (hands against your ears) and
synchronising your bust rotations with leg pedalling.
● The plank: a sheathing exercise to stimulate the deep muscles! Place your elbows and forearms on the
floor on a yoga mat, then stretch your legs backwards, resting on your toes. With your body straight,
look down at the floor (to avoid arching) and hold for a few seconds. The tighter the legs, the harder
the exercise. It is better to regularly add one second than to stay in an unstable posture for too long.
Also, try the side plank to use as many muscles as possible.
● V-ups may be difficult to start with, but they are very effective. Lie down with your arms above your
head and your legs together. Raise your shoulders and feet a few inches, press your back into the floor
and go! Raise your upper and lower body simultaneously (legs straight) to try to touch your toes with
your hands, then return to the initial position (shoulders and feet slightly off the ground). Repeat the
movement in sets.
Want more tips and exercises to sculpt the belly of your dreams? Visit iFIT to try out the Quick Core series
(sessions lasting less than 20 minutes), or the Killer Cardio & Core programme, with 15 short but intense
sessions to strengthen your abs and your whole body and boost your cardio at the same time.

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