International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention
ISSN (Online): 2319 – 7722, ISSN (Print): 2319 – 7714
www.ijhssi.org ||Volume 6 Issue 4||April. 2017 || PP.13-16
www.ijhssi.org 13 | Page
Abdominal Exercises: A Review Study For Training Prescription
Guilherme Lisboa de Serpa1, Paula Matias Soares2, Emanuele Freitas da
Fontoura3, Welton Daniel Nogueira Godinho2
1(Human anatomy laboratory, State University of Ceará, Brazil)
2(Higher Institute of Biomedical Sciences, State University of Ceará,Brazil)
3(Course of Portuguese letters, State University of Ceará, Brazil)
Abstract : The abdominal muscles are composed of four muscles that must be trained in the same way as the
other muscles of the body.This mucular group are very important for postural control in exercises and
prevention of low back pain. The objective of this study was to review some questions about abdominal
exercises and their practical application, helping the work of the professional training prescription.We used
articles in the database: Scielo, Pubmed and SciencDirect resulting in a total of 24 articles used to produce this
paper. Knowledge of the issues related to the Electromyographic Activity; stabilisation exercises and abdominal
therapeutic exercises is of fundamental importance for professionals working with human movement.
Keywords : abdominal, trunk, training, rehabilitation, spine.
Abdominal exercises are quite accomplished in training rooms. The practice of these exercises is very
important because the lack of stability of the core muscles is a risk factor for the development of low back pain.
In addition, more than 80% of the problems of low back pain are correlated with the lack of strengthening of the
trunk musculature [1,2]. The trunk musculature, in which the abdominal wall is also part, is composed of
muscles that are in anterior view: m. rectus abdominis, m. internal abdominal oblique, m. external abdominal
oblique and transversus abdominis, lateral view: m. quadratus lumborum, and in the posterior view: erector
spinal and muscles and m. latissimus dorsi. These muscles, when worked together, form a kind of inflatable
structure, by generating intra-abdominal pressure . In addition to these muscles, the iliopsoas also assists in
pelvic balance, participating in hip flexion movement. The importance of the work of the abdominal muscles is
not restricted only to the resisted training, but also in daily activities, since a good activation of these muscles in
daily activities prevents injuries associated with the activities , besides these muscles help in the maintenance
of the curves of the spine . Most of the movements of the change and pelvis are made mainly by the Rectus
abdominis and External abdominal oblique muscles . Thus, in view of the variety of abdominal exercises and
in order to assist professionals working with training prescription, it is extremely important to clarify issues
related to abdominal exercises and their applicability, justifying a review that addresses the most important
issues relevant to this theme.
II. Materials And Methods
To do so, a study was carried out in the database Scielo, Pubmed and SciencDirect, of which 24 articles
were selected. In the period that includes the month of February and Mach of 2017. The descriptors used were:
abdominal muscle ; Electromyographic Activity; stabilisation exercises and therapeutic exercises. Evidence that
did not communicate the proposal, whose purpose was not the eletromyography, stabilization, and rehabilitation
aspects were discarded.
III. Results And Discurssion
3.1 Abdominal Exercices Prescription
The effectiveness of abdominal exercises, whether for aesthetic purposes or for rehabilitation should be
done with a good technique of execution, so that the activity does not become inefficient or that can intensify or
produce pain in the region of the spine. Another determining factor for exercise efficiency is their choice,
because according to Axler and McGill, 1997  the abdominal exercises cause a relative overload to the spine
and its prescription depends on factors such as on a number of variables such as fitness level, Training goals,
history of previous spinal injury, and any other specific factors to the individual, however an exercise that
generates little overload in the column is the horizontal side support, because it activates very well the obliqua
muscles and it generates little overload in the spine, besides working The in quadratus lumborum, a great
stabilizer of the trunk. For the increase of the stabilization of the trunk it is necessary that exercises are done of
strengthening for the musculature of the abdomen .
Abdominal exercises: a review study for training prescription
www.ijhssi.org 14 | Page
Exercises that actively flex the trunk may not be the best option for individuals with low back pain
because they increase the pressure in the intervertebral disc , and for individuals with osteoporosis the risk of
fractures may increase , Some patients may be asymptomatic in exercises where the spine is in a neutral
position. Already individuals with facet joint syndrome, spondylolisthesis, and vertebral or intervertebral
foramen stenosis may not support exercises with Ab slide and Torso Track by the extended spine position .
People with low back pain (LBP) have an activation delay of the transverse abdomen muscles [11,12].
A focus in the management of Chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients has been the specific training of the deep
abdominal (internal oblique and transversus abdominis) and lumbar multifidus muscles, And for the treatment of
CLBP the suggestion is the execution of stabilizing exercises, as they are effective in reducing pain .
3.2 Swiss Ball And Traditional Abdominal Exercices.
The use of Swiss ball for abdominal training has been done for some years  and studies have been
done to examine the recruitment of trunk muscle during the performance of exercises performed on this
equipment [16,17,18]. Escamilia et al.(2010), analyzed muscle activity in 8 abdominal exercises performed
on the Swiss ball (Roll-out, Pike, Knee-up, Skier, Hip extension left, Hip extension right, Decline push-up,
Sitting march right) and 2 traditional abdominal exercises (Bent- Knee sit-up and Crunch). The results were: the
upper portion was more activated by electromyogram (EMG) signals in the roll-out exercises compared to the
others, except pike and crunch and a very low activation in the sitting march right. The lower abdomen was also
highly activated by signs of EMG in the pike, relative to the others, except the roll-out and hip extension right
and significantly lower in the sitting march right. The external oblique EMG signal was higher in the pike knee-
up, and skier, the lower activation was in the sitting-right exercise compared to the others. The internal oblique
EMG signal was larger with pike, and smaller in the sitting march right, compared to the other exercises.
3.3 Abdominal Crunch.
The crunch exercise is most commonly performed in weight rooms, it is characterized by flexing the
spine (without the low back losing contact with the ground) with the feet on the ground. When this exercise is
performed with overload it activates all 4 abdominal muscles, the transverse abdomen, fulfills its function by
compressing the viscera, in order to free the rib cage for movement. For beginners it is interesting to perform
this exercise with the arms crossed on the chest, to decrease the arm of the resistance. Already for application of
overload, it is interesting that the person put the weight in the hands put him as far as possible from the spine
3.3 Abdominal Crunch In The Machine.
The moment arm of the resistance is higher in the initial phase of the movement and decreases until the
end of the movement. To keep the pelvis fixed in the device, the hip flexor muscles do isometric contraction,
increasing the efficiency of the abdominal wall muscles. If movement continues from complete spinal flexion,
isotonic contraction becomes of the flexors of the hip and the abdominal muscles begin to contract isometrically
to maintain the posture of flexion of the spine. Individuals with LBP may present pain in the lumbar region, as
both the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris pull the spine and pelvis anteriorly, causing pelvic anteversion .
3.4 Reverse Crunch
This exercise should be used by previously conditioned individuals because the position of the knee
flexed along the movement execution provides the highest torque throughout the movement and due to the
isometric action of the hip flexors along the movement. When performed with the knee semi-flexed, the
concentric phase should occur to the point where the line of action of the feet arrives at the axis of movement
(approximately at the end of the thoracic spine) from this point forward, Favors the flexion of the spine, the
action of the abdomen. Muscle contraction becomes eccentric for spinal extensors and the abdomen completely
relaxes (even with spinal flexion) at the moment when most of the lower limb passes over the axis of motion
3.5 Spine Flexion In Vertical Pulldown
The main advantage of this exercise is the easy manipulation of load in the device. As the resistance
arm increases while the spine is flexed, this may favor an active insufficiency of the abdominal muscles and
should not be performed by beginners. The shoulder should stay in adduction and the elbow in extension. In the
flexion phase the performer feels the abdominal musculature, since it remains in isometric contraction,
preserving the lumbar spine and the pelvis .
Abdominal exercises: a review study for training prescription
www.ijhssi.org 15 | Page
3.6 Abdominal Plank
Exercises such as the abdominal plank leave the spine in neutral position and are used in the prevention
and treatment of low back pain [21,22]. This exercise is used in trunk strengthening training including intrinsic
abdomen muscles such as the inner and outer oblique of the abdomen , an exercise that works the abdominal
region in greater proportion to the erector spine . Kim et al. (2016) ,did a study in which they analyzed the
movement of the lower limb in three types of exercise plank: standard plank exercise; The plank exercise with
unilateral isometric hip adduction; And the plank exercise with bilateral isometric hip adduction. Was a
significant difference in rectus abdominis, external oblique, and internal oblique muscle activity between the
different plank conditions. The EMG activity of the abdominal muscles was significantly greater during the
plank exercise with unilateral isometric hip adduction and with the plank exercise with bilateral isometric Hip
adduction compared with the standard plank exercise. The plank exercise with the plank exercise with unilateral
isometric hip adduction resulted in significantly greater abdominal muscle activity than the plank exercise with
the plank exercise with bilateral isometric hip adduction, except for the right rectus abdominis. There was no
significant difference between the right and left sides of the same muscle in each position.
The abdominal muscles need to be trained regularly, not only thinking aesthetically, but also for the
health of the body as a whole, since the stability of the trunk is essential for the performance of exercises and for
daily life. The precise prescription for each type of population makes all the difference, since incorrect
prescription, in addition to leaving the exercise inefficient, can cause injury or aggravation of muscle joint
injuries. Finally, the knowledge of exercise prescription professionals should be vast and cover anatomical,
kinesiological and biomechanical aspects in relation to the abdominal musculature, considering the variety of
exercises and its application with effectiveness.
 M.A Campos,Exerícios abdominais:uma abordagem prática e científica.(Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Sprint, 2002).
 J. Borghuis,A.L Hof and K.A Lemmink, The importance of sensory-motor control in providing core stability: implications for
measurement and training. Sports Med,38(11),2008, 893-916.
 A.I Kapandji, Fisiologia Articular, volume 3:tronco e coluna vertebral (São Paulo,SP: Panamericana,2000).
 L.P Warren,S.Appling,A.Oladehin and J.Griffin, Effect of soft lumbar support belt on abdominal oblique muscle activity in
nonimpaired adults during squat lifting. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther,31(6),2001,316-323.
 Y.W Swie and K.Sakamoto. Electromyographic study of trunk muscle activity during unresisted twisting posture in various twisting
angles. Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol,44(2),2004,11-126.
 C.L Drysdale, J.E Early and J.Hertel, Surface Electromyographic Activity of the Abdominal Muscles During Pelvic-Tilt and
Abdominal-Hollowing Exercises. J Athl Train, 39(1), 2004, 32-36.
 C.T Alex and S.M McGuill, Low back loads over a variety of abdominal exercises: searching for the safest abdominal challenge.
Med Sci Sports Exerc,29(6),1997,804-811.
 S.M McGuill,J. J.Cholewicki and J.Peach. Methodological considerations for using the 3SPACE ISOTRAK to monitor 3D
orthopaedic joint motion. Clin Biomech,12(3),1997,190-194.
 A. Nachemson. Lumbar intradiscal pressure. In: Jayson MIV, ed. The lumbar Spine and Back Pain.( Edinburgh,Sscotland: Churchill
 R.F Escamilla, M.S. McTaggart, E.J Fricklas, R. DeWitt, P. Kelleher, M.K Taylor, A. Hreljac and C.T Moorman. An
electromyographic analysis of commercial and common abdominal exercises: implications for rehabilitation and training. J Orthop
Sports Phys Ther,36(2),2006,45-47.
 P.W Hodges, G.L Moseley, A. Gabrielsson and S.C Gandevia, Experimental muscle pain changes feedforward postural responses
of the trunk muscles. Exp Brain Res,151(2),2003,262-271.
 P.W Hodges and C.A Richardson, Altered trunk muscle recruitment in people with low back pain with upper limb movement at
different speeds. Arch Phys Med Rehabil,80(9),1999,1005-1012.
 S.H Ralston, G.D Urquhart, M. Brzeski and R.D Sturrock. Prevalence of vertebral compression fractures due to osteoporosis in
ankylosing spondylitis. BMJ, 300(6724),1990,563-565.
 L. Niemisto, T. Lahtinen-Suopanki, P. Rissanen, K.A Lindgren, S.Sarna and H. Hurri, A Randomized Trial of Combined
Manipulation, Stabilizing Exercises, and Physician Consultation Compared to Physician Consultation Alone for Chronic Low Back
 L.M Cosio-Lima, K.L Reynolds, C. Winter, V. Paolone and M.T Jones. Effects of physioball and conventional floor exercises on
early phase adaptations in back and abdominal core stability and balance in women. J Strength Cond Res,17(4),721-725.
 A. Mori. Electromyographic activity of selected trunk muscles during stabilization exercises using a gym ball. Electromyogr Clin
 E. Sternlicht, S. Rugg, L.L Fujii, K.F Tomomitsu and M.M Seki. Electromyographic comparison of a stability ball crunch with a
traditional crunch. J Strength Cond Res,21(2),2007,506-509.
 F.J Vera-Garcia, S.G Grenier and S.M McGill, Abdominal muscle response during curl-ups on both stable and labile surfaces. Phys
 R.F Escamilia, C.Lewis, D.Bell, G.Bramblet, J.Daffron, S.Lambert, A.Percson, R. Imamura, L.Paulos and J.R Andrews. Core
Muscle Activation During Swiss Ball and Traditional Abdominal Exercises. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther,40(5),2000,564-569.
 M.A Campos, Biomecânica da musculação.(Rio de Janeiro, RJ: Sprint, 2000).
 G.J Lehman, S.Olive and W. Hoda, Trunk muscle activity during bridging exercises on and off a Swissball. Chiropractic &
Abdominal exercises: a review study for training prescription
www.ijhssi.org 16 | Page
 M.J Kim, D.W Oh and H.J Park. Integrating arm movement into bridge exercise: Effect on EMG activity of selected trunk muscles.
 R.L Snarr and M.R Esco, Electromyographical comparison of plank variations performed with and without instability devices. J
Strength Cond Res, 28(11),2014,3298-3305.
 K.L Schellenberg, J.M Lang, K.M Chan and R.S Burnham. A clinical tool for office assessment of lumbar spine stabilization
enduracne: prone and supine bridge maneuvers. Am. J. Phys. Med. Rehabil, 86(5),380-386,2007.
 S.Y Kim, M.H Kang, E.R Kim, I.G Jung, E.Y Seo and J.S Oh. Comparison of EMG activity on abdominal muscles during plank e
with unilateral and bilateral additional isometric hip adduction. Electromyogr Kinesiol, 30,2016,9-14.