Why and how to work the abdominals?

Published on : 16/09/2020 – 15:58Modified : 16/09/2020 – 16:47

Dr Jean Marc Sène, sports doctor and doctor of the French judo team, offers you four exercises to do at home to work

Today we are going to exercise…. We have to work the abdominals!

But why go to so much trouble to work your abs?

Beyond the aesthetic aspect – flat stomach and chocolate bar, these perform many functions essential to our good physical shape.

The abdominals protect the back and ensure good posture

Abdominal exercises help strengthen the muscles that are responsible for keeping our torso upright. Located at the front of the trunk, they extend over the sides and attach to the lumbar region. This whole grouping is often referred to as the abdominal lumbar belt. The transverse, which is the deepest muscle, plays a very important role in the maintenance of the spine. It helps prevent our stomachs from going forward. Finally for our posture, the great rights helped by the gluteal muscles allow our bust to straighten up and our spine not to bend.

This has the advantage of protecting the back and especially the lumbar area which is the site of frequent and disabling pain (low back pain affects nearly 90% of individuals during their lifetime).

So good for the back, does it help other body functions?

Abs improve digestion

The abdominal muscles also help in digestion and participate in good bowel function and improve transit. Indeed, the abdominal strap massages the organs, which stimulates the intestinal wall. Thus having toned abdominals (but not too much) helps maintain digestive comfort and fight against bloating and constipation. But this is not its only function, having strong abs means having qualitative intra abdominal pressure, which is very useful in the bathroom or even… during childbirth.

The abdominals allow for optimal breathing

When we breathe badly, regardless of any pulmonary or cardiovascular concerns, weakness in the abdominals is often the cause. Astonishing? Not quite. Indeed, the main muscle of respiration is the diaphragm. It is thanks to him that when we inhale we “take in” enough air. Inspiration therefore corresponds to the descent of the center of the diaphragm. As it descends, the organs are pushed down and the rib cage opens. During the reverse movement, ie during exhalation, the diaphragm rises to allow air to come out by expulsion.

All these mechanisms and especially the rising air are facilitated by the contractions of the abdominals. These are movements that we do unconsciously on a daily basis or when we practice cardio activities such as running, cycling, swimming…. So strong abs will allow you to breathe better during exercise.

How to work your abs?

To work your abs as well as possible, two watchwords: consistency and variety. The ideal is to solicit them at least 3 days a week and to vary the exercises in order to solicit the 12 muscles which constitute the abdominal strap in a balanced way.

For this, the best is to participate in various group lessons (abdominal buttocks size, thighs, buttocks abs, tablets) in order to motivate yourself and be guided by a coach to perform the exercises properly. Also think about “full body” classes that involve the whole body and allow your abdominals to learn to be functional. Also, don’t forget Pilates for core strengths and Yoga for breathing.

Some examples :

All abdominal exercises should be performed with controlled breathing. This means that you must breathe out through your mouth while drawing your stomach in during the effort, and always breathe in with your stomach drawn in to return to the initial position.

Lying on your back, hands behind your head to relieve the neck, contract the upper part of the abs (above the navel) to lift the shoulders and then the shoulder blades. Return to the initial position by resting the shoulder blades then the shoulders on the mat.

Lying on your back, arms at your sides, contract the lower part of the rectus abdominis (below the navel) to roll up the pelvis and lift the glutes off the mat. Return to the initial position.


Lying on your back, hands behind your head to relieve the neck, lift off one shoulder blade then return to the initial position.

Facing the mat, on the forearms and on the feet, maintain the position with the back flat and pelvis in retroversion. Breathing is slow and controlled, stomach drawn in for the engagement of the transverse muscle.

So, branded abs, get set, go!

Also find Dr Jean-Marc Sène on his blog by clicking here


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