The abdominal muscles (abs) are a set of strong bands of muscles lining the walls of the abdomen or trunk. They are located toward the front of the body, between the ribs and the pelvis. There are five main muscles in the abdomen which are: External obliques, Internal obliques, Pyramidalis, Rectus abdominis, and Transversus abdominis. These muscles combined give the abs the typical appearance. The chest muscles, also called the pectoralis muscles (or pecs) are closely related to the abs and together with the abs these give the well-developed male body its characteristic ‘chiseled appearance.’ While the female breast does not allow for a good appreciation of the pecs, women can also have well developed abs.
What are the function of the abs?
The muscles that make up the abs have several functions with the overall aim of stability, movement, and protection of the delicate abdominal organs. The functions of these muscles are:
External oblique: These are on each side of the midline. They allow the trunk to twist, but to the opposite side of whichever external oblique is contracting. For example, the right external oblique contracts to turn the body to the left
Internal oblique: These are located just inside the hipbones. They operate in the opposite way to the external oblique muscles. For example, twisting the trunk to the left requires the left side internal oblique and the right side external oblique to contract together.
Rectus abdominis: This muscle is slung between the ribs and the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis. When contracting, it has the characteristic bumps or bulges that are commonly called ‘the six pack’. The main function of the rectus abdominis is to move the body between the ribcage and the pelvis
Transversus abdominis is the deepest muscle layer. Its main roles are to stabilise the trunk and maintain internal abdominal pressure
How do you develop the abs?
Excess accumulation of belly fat is more dangerous than excess fat around the hips and thighs. Belly fat is associated with serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. While genes can contribute to being overweight and help determine where this extra fat is carried, poor lifestyle choices are likely to worsen the issue
The principle for developing abs or having well developed abdominal muscles are still the same as that of developing a body that is physically fit. The summary is still healthy eating and physical activity or exercise. Apart from the health benefits of these, they also ensure fat is not deposited in the abdominal flanks, preventing the ‘sag’ or ‘pot belly’ associated with fat.
Diet. To have abs, the diet should boost metabolism, reduce belly fat, prevent future weight gain, and banish bloating. To reduce fat deposition, it is important to avoid junk food, sugary drinks, sodas, fruit juices, and generally foods that are rich in unhealthy fat.
Foods in vitamin C like peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts have nutrients that lower levels of cortisol during stressful situations, which in turn prevents the body from storing cortisol-induced fat around the mid-section.
Whole egg: Even though it is traditionally advocated that egg whites are more useful for stimulating muscle synthesis post exercise, a study reports that eggs when consumed whole (yolk and white) immediately after resistance exercise seems to promote greater stimulation of muscle protein synthesis than when egg white alone in young men.
Milk and vitamin- D fortified yoghurt. This combination has been reported in a study to significantly decrease abdominal fat and lipid absorption in overweight populations.
Other food like green tea, lean poultry, whole grain pasta, and legumes including beans, black beans, and lentils are also effective in promoting weight loss and reducing abdominal fat deposition.
Exercise: While aerobic exercises work for weight loss, maintenance of healthy weight, and cardiovascular health, some exercises are also target at the abs. These aim to cause more tension or contraction of the abdominal group of muscles, leading to an increase in their size and ultimately more developed abs.
Some of these abdomen specific exercises include planking where a person holds a straight line from the shoulders to your ankles while supporting on the forearms and toes. Others include sit ups, squats, ‘dead bug position exercise, and other abdominal resistance exercises.
Does coughing give you abs?
Coughing will not give an individual abs. while it leads to abdominal muscle contraction, it does this for short bursts of time. while this process may increase the endurance of the muscles, it does not increase the strength of these muscles. To do this, one has to cough long enough and with enough strength to cause a significant increase in muscle size and strength. This translates to about months or years of continuous, forceful coughing!
This amount of coughing will lead to an injury in the respiratory pathways. Coughing for a long time also increases the pressure inside the abdominal cavity, or intra-abdominal pressure. This can predispose one to development of an abdominal hernia, where the abdominal organs (mostly the intestines) push through the abdominal muscles.
To develop abs or abdominal muscles, instead of coughing, try the above exercises which have been proven to be less harmful, and more effective.