Many women will want to have a good range of intensive ab exercises in their workouts because they are looking for a smooth, strong belly. However, abdominal strength is much more than just a flat belly and an hourglass figure. Your abdominal muscles play an important role in posture, balance, and injury prevention. For women, where spinal deterioration and hip injuries are a risk as we age, maintaining strong abs is critical to keeping long-term fitness, mobility, and safety – and of course, we want to keep that smooth, sleek torso as long as we can! Let’s take a look at what ab muscles you have and what they do, and the 10 best ab exercises for women to keep those muscles strong and sexy
The Muscle Groups of Your Abs
Your ‘abs’ comprise several sets of large, powerful muscles, all connected and working together. The exercises we use here are designed to work all of the major muscle groups of your abs, sometimes targeting a single area, sometimes working them in combination.
Your upper abdominals are comprised mainly of the upper half of your rectus abdominis, a segmented muscle that runs down the front of your torso from the base of your pectorals (chest muscles) to your pelvis. The upper abdominals are very important for protecting and stabilizing your rib cage and the delicate internal organs of your upper abdomen, and they support your diaphragm. They also work to help your posture and are part of an intricate network that keeps your spine in good health.
Maintaining upper abdominal strength will help to preserve your posture, something very important especially for women as they age. The upper abdominals are also part of that elusive ‘six pack’, so if that’s something you want to develop, or keep if you are lucky enough to have it already, then upper abdominal exercises will be important to you.
Your lower abdominals are made up of the lower part of the rectus abdominis, and the aponeurosis, a slender, fan-like muscle that stretches on either side over your lower abdomen. In the lower abdominals, the rectus abdominus is the strongest muscle and is essential for stabilizing and supporting your lower back and pelvis.
Developing and maintaining this muscle is important to help prevent pelvic injuries and keep good posture – which can prevent the onset of lower back pain. The aponeurosis helps ‘hold it all together’ in your lower abdomen, and is an often overlooked muscle that is important if a flat belly is your goal!
Your obliques are the muscles that run down either side of your torso. You actually have two sets on either side, external and internal. Your internal obliques are deeper, and help to control lateral stability. Even deeper is your transversus abdominis, a thick, short but powerful muscle that runs down either side under your obliques.
All three are important to protect your hips and spine, and they also provide protection for your internal organs from side impacts and falls. The external obliques are long muscles that help with balance and posture, and control your movement when you twist, lean, or bend to the side. Both sets of obliques are also important in keeping that hourglass figure!
10 Best Ab Exercises for Women
Exercise #1: Basic Crunch
Muscles Involved : Upper abdominals 3 sets 10 reps
Exercise #2: Bicycle Crunch
Muscles Involved : Obliques, lower abdominals 3 sets 12 reps