Your Abs Workout: All Together Now March 29, 2016
Your Abs Workout: All Together Now March 29, 2016

Even some pretty buff, experienced gym denizens have been misled: They think that just because our abdominal muscle typically has six distinct bumps, those bumps can be individually exercised. Not true. In fact, the rectus abdominis muscle functions as a single unit and comprises all those bumps; there’s no physiological separation between its upper and lower areas!

While there are many reasons why this myth persists, these two are the most likely:

1. Anatomy creates an illusion.
The rectus abdominis is divided by the linea alba, a thick vertical band of connective tissue. Additionally, three (or sometimes four) horizontal fibrous bands cross over the linea alba. These bands conspire to create the visual impression of six or eight individual muscles. (Hence, the “six pack.”)

2. Some exercises can mimic an isolated workout.
As noted in Men’s Journal, certain exercises targeting the abdomen engage other muscles, such as the hip flexors. Performing these exercises can give you the false sensation of working a lower portion of your abs.

The upshot: No matter what fancy abs-specific contortion you’re mastering, it’s working one big ab muscle. So the next time someone goes on about “lower abs” exercises in the gym or you see a late-night infomercial for a lower-abs miracle worker, you can chuckle knowingly and walk away or change the channel: You know the truth!

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