Your upper abs look great because of all of your hard work doing crunches and planks. You’ve even tried the whole “abs are made in the kitchen” theory. Your tummy? They must be down there…maybe?
There’s no doubting that for most women, growing a visible six-pack is more difficult on the lower two (or four) abs. And we’ll explore why this is so.
Let’s first talk about setting realistic expectations for yourself, and accepting that occasionally a six-pack won’t materialize no matter how hard you work.
Getting a six-pack, or even just more definition in your abs, is really difficult and needs a lot more effort than simply completing abdominal exercises every day. Nutrition is critical, but you should also perform total-body workouts aimed at reducing your body’s general fat composition as well. Add genetics to the mix, and it becomes clear that certain people are simply predisposed to developing prominent abs.
Even if you’re not one of those people, it’s absolutely fine. Having a six-pack does not indicate that you are physically fit. Read Why Getting Six-Pack Abs Is So Difficult, and Sometimes Impossible, for more information.
While it’s perfectly good to set aesthetic objectives based on body fat composition, you should be aware of the work that may be required to achieve them and how even that work may not be enough. In addition, you must question yourself whether or not pursuing this particular objective is useful to you rather than destructive. That’s a question only you can answer. Before starting any new fitness or nutrition program, talk to your doctor and a nutritionist about your history of disordered eating.
After all that, allow me to delve a little deeper into the subject of biology.
So, going back to the “upper abs” being more noticeable than the “lower abs” issue… It’s critical to understand that in terms of biology, there aren’t any upper abs or lower abs. There are only six-pack abs, often known as the rectus abdominis muscle.
Because it is the largest and most noticeable muscle in your center, the rectus abdominis goes from your sternum to the bottom of your pelvis. It rests on top of your other core muscles and lies just below your skin. Several tendons flow from side to side in addition to the linea alba, a tough, wide tendon that runs along the center of the muscle from top to bottom. That means that some people may develop a six-pack if their muscles expand and develop around their tendons (and if their body fat is low enough).
Your ribs and pelvis are drawn closer together and your ribs closer to your pelvis when you do spinal flexion exercises. You can also use your spine to resist extension while moving your arms and/legs.
If you’d like to see more definition in your abs, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your gym time.
If you want to target your abs’ bottom half, you must start the exercise by moving your lower body.
When it comes to ab exercises, most women concentrate on the first motion, which involves pushing their ribs closer to their pelvic through crunches and sit-ups. When performing crunches, the rectus abdominus’ lower attachments become stuck and stop functioning. Most women, on the other hand, spend significantly less time (if any) performing movements like reverse crunches, which work the rectus abdominis’ lower ends.
But hold on a second. Didn’t we just decide that abs don’t exist in the first place? Yes. More complications arise because muscle cells (also known as fibers) are multinucleated, or have numerous nuclei running along the length of each muscle fiber. This makes them uniquely different from other cells in the body. Each tiny command center directs and coordinates the contraction of a specific piece of muscle fiber.
To put it another way, even though the rectus abdominis muscle fibers extend from your sternum to your pelvis, only parts of it are active at any given time.
To get the most out of your abs, focus on activities that target both the top and bottom half of the abdominal cavity.
Every day, experts advise people to do exercises that target both ends of the muscle fiber. You may work out as much as you like without overtraining your endurance muscles because they are predominantly aerobic in nature (hence the term “endurance muscles”).
There are numerous exercises you can do to work your upper abs, like crunches, wood choppers, and medicine ball slams. Reverse crunches, mountain climbers, and leg lifts work the lower abs (both lying and hanging). Then there will be zombies, jackknives, ab-wheel rolls, and boat posture variants on both sides.
It’s critical that you place an emphasis on quality rather than quantity when carrying out these exercises. This is especially true if you’re trying to reach the lower part of the device. Leg rises and dead bugs, for example, let your back arch and ribs flare, which reduces stress across the rectus abdominis, particularly in the lower abdomen around the pelvic attachment.
The full length of the rectus abdominis becomes activated when you focus on keeping the back flat and stable during ab workouts, especially the low back. During the “easy” half of the workout, focus on breathing and aggressively exhaling during the “effort” phase to further engage your lower abs.
In addition, you must fully commit yourself to the task at hand. Put your attention on the area of the abs you want to work and engage and initiate movement from there.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done everything you can and still can’t see any definition in your lower abs. Because of heredity, some people have additional belly fat even when they have a low body fat percentage, as previously discussed.
It’s fine if you want to acquire a certain look, but put your energy into being the best you can be instead (yes, as corny as that sounds). Even if you don’t lose weight, working out your entire core still has numerous health benefits, including increased stability and strength.