The abdominals are key element to support the spine and contribute to a good posture. It is important to properly exercise the abdominal muscles together with the back muscles. When abs are weak or overly tight people can suffer painful spasms as well as injuries. When properly exercised, these muscles contribute to improve posture and balance, reduce the likelihood of back pain episodes, reduce the severity of back pain, protect against injury by responding efficiently to stresses, help avoid some back surgeries. It may even help heal some back problems or after spine surgery. When abs are strengthened, the abdominal muscles provide flexibility as well.
The abdominal muscles can be worked out by practicing different disciplines such as Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, and jogging among others. There are also specific routines to target each of these muscles.
One effective ab exercise is called the bicycle which targets the rectus abdominals and the obliques. Also, the rectus abdominals can be worked out with the basic crunch, the vertical crunch, the reverse crunch, and the full vertical crunch, and when very fit they look like a 6 pack. By exercising the internal and external obliques the stomach can be flattened while the waist line can be reduced. The long arm crunch, in which arms are straighten behind you, adds a longer level to the move and emphasizes the upper part of the abs. The plank exercise not only strengthens the abs but also the back and stabilizes the muscles.
Abdominal exercises can also be performed with the help of some machines and the captain’s chair is one of the most popular machines used in gyms and health clubs. Other machines are the Ab Roller and the Torso Track. The exercise ball is also a tool that helps strengthen the abs. It may be more effective than the crunches on the floor because the abs do more work as the legs are not involved in the exercise. Potentially the most effective equipment for abdominal strengthening are those that offer the least stability. Examples include the CoreFitnessRoller, bodyweight suspension training such as TRX and stability balls with or without the Halo.