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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.
International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention
ISSN (Online): 2319 7722, ISSN (Print): 2319 7714 ||Volume 6 Issue 4||April. 2017 || PP.13-16 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 Cea, 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.
I. Introduction
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 [3]. 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 [4], besides these muscles help in the maintenance
of the curves of the spine [5]. Most of the movements of the change and pelvis are made mainly by the Rectus
abdominis and External abdominal oblique muscles [6]. 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 [7] 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 [8].
Abdominal exercises: a review study for training prescription 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 [9], and for individuals with osteoporosis the risk of
fractures may increase [13], 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 [10].
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 [14].
3.2 Swiss Ball And Traditional Abdominal Exercices.
The use of Swiss ball for abdominal training has been done for some years [15] 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)[19], 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 [20].
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 [20].
Abdominal exercises: a review study for training prescription 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 [23], an exercise that works the abdominal
region in greater proportion to the erector spine [24]. 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.
IV. Conclusion
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.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
While there are multiple studies involving abdominal musculature activation and instability devices (e.g., Swiss balls); there is minimal research comparing them with a suspension device (e.g., TRX®). The purpose of this investigation was to measure the electromyographical activity of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, and erector spinae while performing planks with and without multiple instability devices. Twelve apparently healthy men (n=6, age = 23.92± 3.64 years) and women (n=6, age = 22.57 ± 1.87 years) volunteered to participate in this study. All participants performed two isometric contractions of five different plank variations, with or without an instability device, where the order of the exercises was randomized. Mean peak and normalized electromyography of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, and erector spinae musculature were compared across the five exercises. Results indicated that planks performed with the instability devices increased electromyographic activity in the superficial musculature when compared to traditional stable planks. Therefore, a traditional plank performed on a labile device may be considered an advanced variation and appropriate for use when a greater challenge is warranted. However, caution should be taken for those individuals with a previous history or weakness in the lumbar region due to the increases in erector spinae activation during instability planks.
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to determine whether incorporating arm movement into bridge exercise changes the electromyographic (EMG) activity of selected trunk muscles. Twenty healthy young men were recruited for this study. EMG data were collected for the rectus abdominis (RA), internal oblique (IO), erector spinae (ES), and multifidus (MF) muscles of the dominant side. During bridging, an experimental procedure was performed with two options: an intervention factor (with and without arm movement) and a bridging factor (on the floor and on a therapeutic ball). There were significant main effects for the intervention factor in the IO and ES and for the bridging factor in the IO. The RA and IO showed significant interaction between the intervention and bridge factors. Furthermore, IO/RA ratio during bridging on the floor (without arm movement, 2.05±2.61; with arm movement, 3.24±3.42) and bridging on the ball (without arm movement: 2.95±3.87; with arm movement: 5.77±4.85) showed significant main effects for, and significant interaction between the intervention and bridge factors. However, no significant main effects or interaction were found for the MF/ES ratio. These findings suggest that integrating arm movements during bridge exercises may be used to provide preferential loading to certain trunk muscle groups and that these effects may be better derived by performing bridge exercises on a therapeutic ball.
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Although the hip musculature is found to be very important in connecting the core to the lower extremities and in transferring forces from and to the core, it is proposed to leave the hip musculature out of consideration when talking about the concept of core stability. A low level of co-contraction of the trunk muscles is important for core stability. It provides a level of stiffness, which gives sufficient stability against minor perturbations. Next to this stiffness, direction-specific muscle reflex responses are also important in providing core stability, particularly when encountering sudden perturbations. It appears that most trunk muscles, both the local and global stabilization system, must work coherently to achieve core stability. The contributions of the various trunk muscles depend on the task being performed. In the search for a precise balance between the amount of stability and mobility, the role of sensory-motor control is much more important than the role of strength or endurance of the trunk muscles. The CNS creates a stable foundation for movement of the extremities through co-contraction of particular muscles. Appropriate muscle recruitment and timing is extremely important in providing core stability. No clear evidence has been found for a positive relationship between core stability and physical performance and more research in this area is needed. On the other hand, with respect to the relationship between core stability and injury, several studies have found an association between a decreased stability and a higher risk of sustaining a low back or knee injury. Subjects with such injuries have been shown to demonstrate impaired postural control, delayed muscle reflex responses following sudden trunk unloading and abnormal trunk muscle recruitment patterns. In addition, various relationships have been demonstrated between core stability, balance performance and activation characteristics of the trunk muscles. Most importantly, a significant correlation was found between poor balance performance in a sitting balance task and delayed firing of the trunk muscles during sudden perturbation. It was suggested that both phenomena are caused by proprioceptive deficits. The importance of sensory-motor control has implications for the development of measurement and training protocols. It has been shown that challenging propriocepsis during training activities, for example, by making use of unstable surfaces, leads to increased demands on trunk muscles, thereby improving core stability and balance. Various tests to directly or indirectly measure neuromuscular control and coordination have been developed and are discussed in the present article. Sitting balance performance and trunk muscle response times may be good indicators of core stability. In light of this, it would be interesting to quantify core stability using a sitting balance task, for example by making use of accelerometry. Further research is required to develop training programmes and evaluation methods that are suitable for various target groups.
Full-text available
To determine the prevalence of vertebral compression fractures due to osteoporosis in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Prospective study of 111 consecutive patients; patients with vertebral compression fractures were entered into a case-control study. Outpatient clinic at the centre for rheumatic diseases, Glasgow. 111 Consecutive patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Patients with compression fractures were matched for age and sex with two controls selected from the rest of the group. Patients with biconcave vertebral fractures were also studied. Assessments of spinal deformity and mobility and analysis of lateral radiographs of spines for presence of syndesmophytes. Fifteen patients with compression fractures and five with biconcave fractures were studied. Compared with the controls the patients with compression fractures had increased formation of syndesmophytes in the lumbar spine, whereas those with biconcave fractures had increased formation throughout the spine. Patients with compression fractures also had a greater degree of spinal deformity (distance from wall to tragus 24.5 cm v 12.7 cm in controls), less spinal mobility (20 v 45.6 degrees of flexion), and reduced chest expansion (2 cm v 3cm). Vertebral compression fractures due to osteoporosis are a common but frequently unrecognised complication of ankylosing spondylitis and may contribute to the pathogenesis of spinal deformity and back pain.
Full-text available
With the current interest in stability training for the injured low back, the use of labile (movable) surfaces, underneath the subject, to challenge the motor control system is becoming more popular. Little is known about the modulating effects of these surfaces on muscle activity. The purpose of this study was to establish the degree of modulating influence of the type of surface (whether stable or labile) on the mechanics of the abdominal wall. In this study, the amplitude of muscle activity together with the way that the muscles coactivated due to the type of surface under the subject were of interest. Eight men (mean age=23.3 years [SD=4.3], mean height=177.6 cm [SD=3.4], mean weight=72.6 kg [SD=8.7]) volunteered to participate in the study. All subjects were in good health and reported no incidence of acute or chronic low back injury or prolonged back pain prior to this experiment. All subjects were requested to perform 4 different curl-up exercises-1 on a stable surface and the other 3 on varying labile surfaces. Electromyographic signals were recorded from 4 different abdominal sites on the right and left sides of the body and normalized to maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) amplitudes. Performing curl-up exercises on labile surfaces increased abdominal muscle activity (eg, for curl-up on a stable surface, rectus abdominis muscle activity was 21% of MVC and external oblique muscle activity was 5% of MVC; for curl-up with the upper torso on a labile ball, rectus abdominis muscle activity was 35% of MVC and external oblique muscle activity was 10% of MVC). Furthermore, it appears that increases in external oblique muscle activity were larger than those of other abdominal muscles. Performing curl-ups on labile surfaces changes both the level of muscle activity and the way that the muscles coactivate to stabilize the spine and the whole body. This finding suggests a much higher demand on the motor control system, which may be desirable for specific stages in a rehabilitation program.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of additional isometric hip adduction during the plank exercise on the abdominal muscles. Twenty healthy young men participated in this study. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to monitor the activity of the bilateral rectus abdominis (RA), the internal oblique (IO), and the external oblique (EO) muscles. The participants performed three types of plank exercise; the standard plank exercise, the plank exercise with bilateral isometric hip adduction, and the plank exercise with unilateral isometric hip adduction. All abdominal muscle activity was significantly increased during the plank exercise combined with the bilateral and unilateral isometric hip adduction compared with the standard plank exercise (p < 0.05). Bilateral IO, EO, and left RA muscle activity was significantly increased during the unilateral isometric hip adduction compared with the bilateral isometric hip adduction (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that additional isometric hip adduction during the plank exercise could be a useful method to enhance abdominal muscle activity. In particular, the unilateral isometric hip adduction is a more beneficial exercise than the bilateral isometric hip adduction.
Abdominal exercises are prescribed for both the prevention and treatment of low back injury. However, these exercises sometimes appear to have hazardous effects on the lumbar spine. The purpose of this study was to identify quantitatively abdominal exercises that optimize the challenge to the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique) but impose minimal load penalty to the lumbar spine. Nine volunteers performed 12 different abdominal exercises. For a given task the maximum abdominal muscle EMG value was divided by the maximum compression value, resulting in an abdominal challenge versus spinal compression cost index. In general, the partial curl-ups generated the highest muscle challenge-to-spine cost indices. However, those exercises that generated the best challenge-to-cost indices did not necessarily record the lowest compression levels along with the highest EMG activations. No single exercise was found that optimally trained all of the abdominal muscles while at the same time incurring minimal intervertebral joint loads. It was concluded that a variety of selected abdominal exercises are required to sufficiently challenge all of the abdominal muscles and that these exercises will-differ to best meet the different training objectives of individuals.
To compare trunk muscle coordination in people with and without low back pain with varying speeds of limb movement. Abdominal and back extensor muscle activity in association with upper limb movement was compared among three speeds of movement and between people with and without low back pain. Fourteen subjects with a history of recurrent low back pain and a group of age- and sex-matched control subjects. The onsets of electromyographic activity of the trunk and limb muscles, frequency of trunk muscle responses, and angular velocity of arm movements. Early activation of transversus abdominis (TrA) and obliquus internus abdominis (OI) occurred in the majority of trials, with movement at both the fast and intermediate speeds for the control group. In contrast, subjects with low back pain failed to recruit TrA or OI in advance of limb movement with fast movement, and no activity of the abdominal muscles was recorded in the majority of intermediate speed trials. There was no difference between groups for slow movement. The results indicate that the mechanism of preparatory spinal control is altered in people with lower back pain for movement at a variety of speeds.
A counterbalanced repeated measures design. To determine the effect of a soft lumbar support on abdominal oblique muscle electromyography (EMG) during lifting. Use of a soft lumbar back support is a common preventive measure to reduce the incidence of back injuries. Because the abdominal oblique muscles stabilize the spine during lifting, wearing this support may alter the activity level of these muscles. Twenty nonimpaired subjects (14 women and 6 men, mean age 28.9 +/- 8.1 years) were tested using surface electrodes to record the EMG of the right abdominal oblique muscles during lifting with and without the support. A paired t test revealed a significant decrease in activity of the abdominal oblique muscles during lifting with the support (29.7 +/- 3.13 mV) compared to without it (33.3 +/- 3.05 mV). Of the 20 subjects, the 14 women showed decreased EMG amplitude during the lift with the lumbar support compared to without the support, while 5 of the men showed increased EMG amplitude with the support and 1 man showed no change. This finding suggests that the soft lumbar support may play some role in the stabilization of the lumbar region during lifting.