2.. 4.. 6.. 8- Pack Abs
Ok so, everyone loves nice abs- let’s face it. Roughly 80-90% of our clients include at least one of the following when stating their goals and focus:
- Wanting washboard/ six-pack- abs
- Wanting to strengthen their core to get rid of back pain or posture problems.
There are 4 different muscles that make up your abs, and each has a different function and visual effect. Let’s start with the 2/ 4/ 6/ 8-pack abs, AKA the Rectus Abdominis.
Want a six-pack? These are the muscles you’ll want to focus on. They are the outermost layer, and are made of two parallel but connected muscles that run vertically down your body, stretching from your pubic bone to your sternum and ribs (to put it simply).
When they contract to shorten, called a concentric contraction, they cause the body to flex forward, such as with sit-ups, or reverse crunches . Ever wonder why these muscles appear in the six-pack formation? And why and how some people have a four pack, some have six-pack, and some have an eight-pack? Contrary to popular belief, this isn't entirely dependent on how strong you are, how much belly fat you have, and which specific ab exercises you practice. You actually have a genetic limit to how may 'packs' your abs can reach. Once your abs are sculpted enough and fat content is low enough, the definition of the rectus abdominis will begin to show. As I stated above, these muscles are made of two parallel muscles, but what makes them appear to be either 4, 6, or 8 muscles, is the number of bands of fascia, called tendinous intersections (see the grey lines in the photo below). These are bands of connective tissue that function to keep the muscle in place to continue performing its’ specific function. They run perpendicular to the muscles, and create that indent you see on an athletic person. Think about how a rubber band wraps around your hair; it holds all of the strands together and also creates an indent where it is tied.
So how exactly do your genetics determine which pack of abs you’ll have the ability to achieve? People have been found to have anywhere between 1-5 tendinous intersections, although 3 is the most common. If you’re born with only two tendinous intersection through the rectus abdominus, you will at most, be able to achieve a four pack. If you’re born with three bands of fascia, you would be able to reach a six pack. And last but not least, if you inherit four bands- you guessed it! You’d be able to achieve eight-pack! Interesting, right? Even Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t crunch his way to a six-pack.
In the next couple of weeks, I'll post an ab workout focusing on the rectus abdominis, so get ready to feel the burn! I also plan to cover the other 3 abdominal muscles in the near future in case you're curious about those. Let's hear about your thoughts/ what other specific muscles or areas of your body you want to learn about or work on.