If great abs seem to elude you, maybe all you need is to understand why they are important.
Reason number 1: Abdominal muscles are the “trunk of the tree”. They help to support your upper and lower extremities, your “branches”. The stronger they are, the more power they can distribute to the rest of your body. They are made up of four main muscles groups, the deepest being the transversus abdominus, the rectus abdominus or the “six pack”, the external obliques and the internal obliques which help with twisting movements.
Reason number 2: Abdominal muscles decrease injury. If your muscles are unable to reposition your body during athletic endeavors in a strong and timely fashion, then you are at higher risk for knee ligament injuries. Core stability training can help to decrease lower leg injuries in twisting and cutting sports. Core strength can diminish risk of hamstring injuries and ankle sprains as well. For runners, training your abs can help to avoid ilioitibial band friction syndrome, a common cause of pain on the outside of the knee. Stronger abs can also balance the force going through your lower back and taking pressure of an area easily injured.
Reason number 3: Abdominal muscles improve pitch velocity. You may want to add in extra abdominal training as you prepare for summer softball and baseball seasons. Certain training programs in throwing athletes that focused on abdominal and core strength have been shown to significantly improve maximal throwing velocity. Plank related exercises and dynamic crunches were specifically noted to improve pitching velocity. Abs can help to improve momentum generation during throwing.
Reason number 4: Abdominal muscles improve endurance and agility. Athletes who work on abdominal and core strength and stability training tend to display greater power, better reaction times, and more efficient use of the arms and legs. It is important to enhance these effects by performing core exercises on unstable surfaces and conditions where balance is incorporated.
Reason number 5: Abdominal fat increases medical problems. Deep abdominal fat has been implicated as a contributor to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. An “apple-shaped” individual who stores fat around the core internal organs can decrease the risk of medical illnesses through diet and exercise. Through many studies, belly fat, has been shown to be a worrisome area when it comes to fighting off heart disease and high blood pressure. Belly fat has been linked to higher incidences of colon cancer and sleep apnea.
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