Upper, Middle, & Lower Abs

  1. Upper, Middle, & Lower Abs

    Hey everyone, I am wondering how the hell you exercise the upper, middle, and lower abs? More so concerned with the middle and lower. I do crunches, and leg lifts, and you name it, but I always feel it in the upper part of my abs. When I do a ab workout, I focus on the abs and try to only have my abs pull me up. I don't know if I am approaching it wrong, but let me know if any of you have any good ideas. Later

  2. Where you feel it working has little significance when developing the abs. Its impossible to isolate one portion over another.

  3. My understanding is the abs work as a whole and there is no way to really isolate one part over another.

  4. Upper-Lower Abs Controversy by Dr Mel Siff

    The controversial issue of whether or not the upper and lower abdominal
    muscles can be recruited preferentially often arises.

    I fully concur with the thesis that the upper and lower abdominals cannot be
    recruited in total isolation of one another. If the trunk is actively
    flexed, then the entire abdominal musculature becomes involved. Following
    the principle of "reductio ad absurdum", we would be forced to conclude that
    if one part of the abdominal musculature were to be entirely quiescent during
    an extended period of active trunk flexion, then this would produce
    instability somewhere in the trunk and increase the potential for injury.
    The uninjured body does not behave like that.

    However, there are other issues to consider if we extrapolate this deduction
    to mean that the different parts of the abdominal musculature cannot carry
    out functional activity to different degrees and in different patterns. In
    this letter, I wish to highlight such issues.

    Many of the deductions that the upper and lower abs are recruiited in exactly
    the same manner and to the same degree are based upon surface EMG recordings.
    Now, one problem with the interpretation of EMGs is that greater potentials
    measured over any region do not necessarily imply that the muscle locally or
    over its entire volume is producing 'functional' motor output. Some of the
    activity may be spurious (due to sub-optimal motor skill) or stabilising in
    nature and not contributing solely to the dynamic action being studied. For
    example, it has been found that skilled performers recruit less muscle tissue
    than less skilled individuals for executing the same activity.

    Fatigue can also confound the results. In this case, a highly trained,
    strong subject in executing a given abdominal exercise uses a far smaller
    proportion of his maximal trunk flexion strength than a person who is less
    strong, so that fatigue even in a single repetition plays a smaller role in
    the production of EMG or trunk torque.

    Thus, in using the EMG to analyse human movement, it can be very helpful to
    concurrently measure joint torque to examine the nature of the relationship
    between motor action and EMG from different locations over the abdomen during
    exercises that take the trunk over its full range of movement (ROM). In this
    respect, crunches, V-sit-ups, and posterior pelvic tilts do not involve the
    entire ROM from prestretch (i.e. about 10-15 degrees of spinal extension to
    full contraction with the lumbar spine maximally flexed.

    Lest these comments be regarded as somewhat academic, it is interesting to
    take the analysis out of the laboratory into the folowing few practical and,
    sometimes most unlikely, situations.

    Case 1: Anyone who has watched high level bodybuilding contests will have
    noticed that some contestants are able to tense, twist, contort and rotate
    different parts of the abdomen.

    Case 2: Several years ago, one of the TV learning or discovery channels
    featured a belly dancer in a club who performed an amazing feat of abdominal
    muscle control. She lay supine on a table with a four coins on either side
    of her lower abdomen and she contracted her abs sequentially until she had
    flipped the coins over until they reached the upper abdomen. She then
    repeated the sequence from top to bottom and then left to right, right to
    left and then in diagonal sequences. As a grand finale she called for a
    dollar note to be placed upon the centre of her abdomen and she proceeded to
    fold the note in two movements to a quarter of its size.

    This act was witnessed by millions of TV viewers around the world, so it is
    not simply anecdotal - if someone out there has kept a video copy or knows
    where to obtain a video copy of this exceptional act, I would be most
    grateful to know. It demonstrated to an even greater degree than the
    bodybuilders' posing routines that it is possible to functionally utilise
    different parts of the abdominal musculature.

    Would anyone care to explain how this act is possible if there is no change
    in EMG and much of the current theory seems to suggest that localised muscle
    control like that is mythical?

    This is certainly not to suggest that the average person executing all of
    those gross (as opposed to fine motor control) abdominal exercises is capable
    of voluntarily activating different parts of the abdominal musculature for
    aesthetic 'body sculpting'. Rather, this example has been raised to
    stimulate us to look deeper at the use of EMG alone to analyse muscle
    activity insofar as it relates to functional motor activity. Regarding
    this, has anyone used EMG or myotensiometric biofeedback to examine to what
    extent one can voluntarily alter activation of different parts of rectus



    The following article gives further unseful information on this topic. It
    examined differences between upper and lower abdominal activation in skilled
    and less skilled subjects. Interestingly, one conclusion was that, among
    incorrect performers of abdominal exercises, either exercise indistinctly
    activates the muscle portions - and this is precisely the sort of finding
    that is frequently reported by various researchers who are adamant that there
    can be no differentiated mucsle activity over the length of rectus abdominis.

    In other words, though various abdominal exercises may appear to be very
    similar as performed by different individuals, the pattern of muscle and
    recruitment and kinesiology may differ significantly. One again, we note the
    fundamental role played by the superordinate cortical and subcortical neural
    patterns in determining motor output even in apparently rather gross


    Sarti M et al Muscle activity in upper and lower rectus abdominis during
    abdominal exercises. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1996 Dec; 77(12):1293-7

    OBJECTIVE: To compare the intensity of the upper versus lower rectus
    abdominis (RA) muscle activity provoked by each of two different abdominal
    exercises and to contrast the intensity of contraction elicited by two
    different abdominal exercises on each RA muscle portion. Subjects who had
    practiced endurance or strength training activities (1.5 hours 3 days a week
    for 3 years) and those who had not accomplished that criterion comprised a
    high and a low physical activity group, respectively. Each of these two
    groups was divided by the ability to perform the exercises into two
    subgroups: correct and incorrect performers (cp, ic). Average surface
    integrated EMG was compared between upper and lower RA and on each muscle
    portion performing curl-up (CU) and posterior pelvic tilt (PT) exercises. The
    coefficient of variation, a two-way analysis of variance, and the t test were

    RESULTS: The upper RA showed significantly greater activity during
    performance of CU exercise by the cp subgroups of both high and low activity
    groups. Only the cp subgroup of the high activity group showed that PT was
    significantly more strenuous than CU exercise on lower RA.

    CONCLUSIONS: Among correct performers, CU produces greater activity on upper
    RA. For persons who have a high level of activity, PT is more strenuous than
    CU on lower RA. Among incorrect performers, either exercise indistinctly
    activates the muscle portions.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by azgymrat
    My understanding is the abs work as a whole and there is no way to really isolate one part over another.
    AGREED! A lot of people feel that they have weak or underdeveloped lower abs, when in actuality, there is just more body-fat covering that area. Every body is different, but A LOT of people will never be able to see strations in the lower-ab region until BF% is VERY LOW! Even when I was down to around 10% (low for me), I still held a lot of fat in my lower abs and ass...



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