Abs in or Abs out?



In or out?

“If I pull them in, I feel stable but I can’t maintain this activation. And when I pick up weights, should I maintain the activation throughout?”

Today, I’m hearing a lot of confusion regarding the proper use of abdominals, especially during resistance training.

Let’s analyze step by step what is right and what is not so right.

Anatomy: Abdominals!

When we refer to the abdominals, we’re actually referring to a group of muscles: the rectus abdominus, internal external oblique, transverses abdominus and the pyramidalis muscle.

Each of those muscles have a distinct function in our movement behavior. But let’s keep it simple.

Anytime you are about to lift a heavy weight, you should take a diaphragmatic breath. When you take a diaphragmatic breath in, your diagram drops into the abdominal cavity.

This drop-down pushes the inner abdominal organs out. It is natural that your abdominal wall moves outward at the same time.

During the outward movement of the abdominal wall, you are stretching the transverses abdominus (TVA).

The TVA is important when it comes to stability during movement. Think of the TVA like a corset that you can tighten to create a smaller waistline.

The tightening of the TVA occurs when you pull your belly button (umbilicus) towards the spine, which. creates spinal stability (the TVA attaches to the transverses of the lumber spine. This activation achieves stability of the vertebrae).

Without this activation during movement you are prone to back injuries and will have difficulties improving your balance / stability.

This activation is also referred to as the “hoop tension”.

It is interesting to note that when you draw your belly button inward, your erector spinae is stabilized. This is also referred as the Hydraulic Amplifier Mechanism.

Pull in, push out or do nothing?

When you start exercising, or have been exercising for years and experience pain, I highly recommend working without weight. Also, you should initiate the TVA activation during any movement.

The drawing in of the belly button will achieve this and give you overall stability of your midsection during any movement.

For example, practice this with a squat. Take a diaphragmatic breath in, expend your belly, and at last pull your belly button towards the spine while you lower your hips toward the floor.

Maintain an extended spine, and keep your feet and knees parallel. Only lower as far down as you can, holding this activation.

If you cannot do this during this non-resisted squat, it’s more likely you will hurt your lumber spine if you start or keep working with resistance. This is an example of a non-weight bearing exercise.

If you can’t maintain the activation, it may be that you have a diastasis. A diastasis is a separation of the rectus abdominus. When this occurs, the inner organs press between the sheet of the rectus abdominus and show up like a tent when you perform any core exercise or resisted exercise when core stability is required.

The same TVA activation can help you to correct this gap of the diastasis.

The drawing in of the belly button is necessary to create a safe environment during exercise.

By pushing your belly button out during non-resistance exercise, your spine will not be protected during the movement. (Think about it like a mast in a hurricane that isn’t secured from multiple directions.)

How does this help you in weight loss? When you are not capable of increasing your resistance in your weight loss program, you are preventing any progress.

Resistance cannot be increased and you will most likely injure yourself because you don’t create stability in your trunk. Remember, to grow additional lean muscle tissue, you need to work against heavier resistance to archive lean muscle tissue and burn of the stored white fat. So…

Abs in! Practice this move when you sit and walk.

Stay focused.


Europe’s Premier Youngevity Coach
AFFA, ACE, Reebok University
Masters in Science in Holistic Nutrition

Stefan Aschan, M.S., author of the Alpine Weight Loss Secrets, which teaches you how to outsmart your hormones and lose belly fat without drugs or surgeries. His approach is holistic, scientific and based on centuries of experience from those living in Alpine Environments. He is a certified strength coach, personal trainer and naturopath. Learn more about how to loss weight naturally by visiting www.AlpineWeightLossSecrets.com




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