Abdominals explained

Call it what you want – muffin top, spare tyre or beer belly – many of you tell us that it’s your stomach you’re mostly unhappy with.

While some of us are striving for that elusive six-pack, many of us just want our tummies to be a bit more flat. But shifting a podgy tum or those extra inches around the waist can often be a frustrating experience.

If you really want to make a change, you need to understand how your body works.

Let’s take a look first at stomach fat.

Abdominal FatAbdominal fat

Visceral fat is body fat stored within the abdominal cavity and around internal organs, such as the liver, pancreas and intestines.

Storing higher amounts of visceral fat is associated with increased risks of a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that we store just under our skin – the type of fat where you can ‘pinch’ an inch, or two. It can be measured using calipers.

Women have a tendency to have more subcutaneous fat than men.

A bigger belly can be the result of both types of fat. The fat we can feel just under the skin is subcutaneous fat but we may also be storing significant extra visceral fat within our abdomen.

The omentum is a layer of fatty tissue that is positioned under your abdominal muscles and covers your intestines. If the omentum absorbs extra fat, it may also push the front of the abdomen outwards, producing a ‘beer belly’.

If you have too much subcutaneous fat, doing hundreds of sit-ups will only work your ab muscles and not the fat covering them. To burn this fat, you need to eliminate foods from your diet that are high in fat, sugar and salt and control your calorie intake.

On a positive note, the most dangerous fat – visceral – is so dynamic it is easier to shift than the subcutaneous fat  – regular vigorous exercise should do it.

Abdominal MusclesAbdominal muscles  

You’ll often hear your instructors say a certain Fight Fit track will work your ‘core‘ – but what exactly is this?

The rectus abdominis are a pair of long, flat muscles running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen – often referred to as the ‘six-pack’. They are separated by connective tissue called the linea alba.

The transverse abdominal muscle (TVA), also known as the transverse abdominis, helps support the spine and is located in the lower part of your stomach.

They are the innermost of the flat muscles of the abdomen and located underneath both the external and internal obliques. Some people describe the TVA as acting like your body’s natural ‘corset’ – pulling your stomach in.

The obliques are the muscles on the side of the upper body that help with turning the body from side to side. The internal obliques are found deep in the abdominal wall, while the external obliques are the outermost of the abdominal muscles, starting from the lower eight ribs.

The serratus anterior muscle is located toward the top and side of your rib cage. Keeping this muscle strong defines your chest and keeps your shoulder joint supple.

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work smoothly together.

Post-baby tummies

Following pregnancy and childbirth, your abdominal muscles may have become separated in the middle where they over stretched and weakened (called ‘Divarication of Rectus Abdominis’, if you’d like its medical term!).

This can lead to an increased risk of getting back pain and poor posture. It’s usually noticeable when as your stomach bulges when you cough, laugh or lean forward.

It’s really important to avoid arching your back but exercising the deepest abdominal muscles can assist in closing the muscle separation from the inside.

The Fight Fit Conclusion:

If you want to shift tummy fat in a healthy and effective way, you need to tackle both your diet and exercise routines. Sit-ups shouldn’t be your go-to ab workout as you’re only training one part of your abdomen. Think about your choice of exercises carefully and combine exercises for abs with fat-burning, cardio workouts.

Remember, we’re here to help!

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