Strengthening Muscles: Discover Effective Exercises and Supplements for Muscle Development

the best exercises for abs and muscle
the best exercises for abs and muscle

 1- Introduction

It could be said that abs - referring to the six-pack or turtle shell (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques) - along with the glutes, are the "most commercial" muscles of the body. Males tend to pay slightly more attention to the former, while females tend to focus on the latter, but this is not a rule.

In every gym and fitness center, the same question echoes continuously, almost like a "mantra": "What is the best exercise for abs?" Unfortunately, the answers can vary greatly depending on the level of expertise, personal experience, or the instructor's willingness to respond.

But for those who do not frequent gyms or fitness centers, who can they turn to with this question? A personal trainer at home? That would be fantastic, but it is not the case. It is thanks to this circumstance that certain companies, advertising on the internet and shopping TV programs, create their business.

The article discusses the benefits of creatine monohydrate as a muscle-building supplement.

2- Business and Marketing

The principle of this business is simple: target the audience (people in poor physical shape) where you are sure to find them: on the couch!

For many decades now, various fitness equipment manufacturers have offered a wide range of products, with the best ones allowing you to work out exactly - or even less - than bodyweight exercises. Taking inspiration from professional equipment or training methodology principles, the market now offers dozens of "infernal gadgets."

The shape, size, and complexity of the available equipment follow a precise rhythm dictated by marketing plans and fluctuations in demand. Initially, the larger machines seem more effective, but then the trend shifts towards smaller ones that can be used regularly even in a small apartment, and so on.

Many athletes use creatine supplements to enhance their muscle strength and performance.

3- Criticisms

Let's consider some of the most heavily advertised articles:

Where there is a bar to support the arms, the exercise is greatly facilitated, but it risks becoming an exercise for the latissimus dorsi and teres major, therefore involving the shoulder adductors to the detriment of the rectus abdominis, which should be the main target.

muscle relaxers
muscle relaxers

People who experience hand cramps while exercising may find relief by incorporating natural muscle relaxers into their routine.

Most of these contraptions have a straight and rigid backrest that does not allow the spine to maintain its normal physiological curves. Consequently, the much-touted increased range of motion (200°) will continuously strain the lower back or lumbar region, becoming counterproductive and pointless since the rectus abdominis primarily works within the first 30° of the range of motion (ROM).

Adding to the previous point, the straight backrest will result in the contraction being borne by the hip flexors, such as the iliopsoas and rectus femoris, rather than our rectus abdominis, which is responsible for bringing the ribs closer to the pelvis and vice versa.

Lastly, but certainly not least importantly, it should be noted that these articles are mainly advertised for those who wish to lose weight. Unfortunately, for an overweight person or someone who desires to reduce their "belly fat," as we will see below, abdominal exercises serve little purpose.

The abdominal muscles play a crucial role in maintaining core stability and supporting the spine.

All this does not mean that certain equipment is entirely useless, but rather that if they are not properly contextualized within a training program and without a minimum level of supervision from a professional, they essentially serve to "silence one's conscience."

The article explains various exercises to strengthen the muscles of the back, including the back muscles and muscles of the leg.

4- Diet

The only great truth, however, is that to highlight the abs, it is first necessary to have a very thin layer of subcutaneous fat throughout the abdominal area. If this layer is excessive, it can be reduced through weight loss. However, to lose weight, it is essential to adhere to the principle of a calorie deficit or negative calorie balance, meaning that the calories consumed through the diet must be lower than those expended by the body.

Otherwise, it will be necessary to follow a specific hypocaloric diet for weight loss, with an energy reduction ranging from 10% to 30% below the maintenance level, possibly combined with a low-intensity aerobic High Volume Training (HVT) protocol - for high energy expenditure and partially for lipid consumption - or high-intensity Metabolic Training (HIT) - to improve glycemic metabolism - or specific training for overall hypertrophy to increase basal metabolism - the latter requiring a lower calorie intake than the previous two. The combination of all three is always the best choice.

Muscle strain can occur when there is excessive stress or overuse of a particular muscle group.

Only at this point does it become necessary to work on strengthening the abdominal muscles, aiming to hypertrophy them so that they become more visible. Let's clarify from the outset that the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis follow the same physiological principles as other muscles. Therefore, just as a specific hypertrophic protocol is needed to build mass in the chest muscles, the same applies to the abs.

Kegel exercises are an effective way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder control.

5- Training Approach

Let's assume that our kind readers have successfully achieved weight loss to the point where their abdominal fat is sufficiently thin to reveal the "turtle shell" - generally, for males, body fat should not exceed 12%.

The aesthetic training method or system primarily focuses on hypertrophy or muscle mass development. The training is logically divided into sets and repetitions per exercise.

For those who are more advanced in their training, resistance training with the use of weights or other forms of resistance is recommended, performed at a high intensity (HIT) until reaching maximum fatigue - concentrically or eccentrically.

Repetitions should ensure a ratio between the concentric and eccentric phases of no less than 1:2, emphasizing the stretching phase. It is advisable to include a 1-second isometric pause at maximum contraction. The concentric phase can be limited to 1 second or slightly more, while the eccentric phase can be 2-3 seconds.

Athletes often experience muscle strain in the hamstring, which can be prevented or treated with proper stretching and warm-up routines.

This results in long periods of muscle contraction (high Time Under Tension - TUT) - the total duration of each set should be around 45-75 seconds.

Recovery periods, depending on the school of thought, can be complete (up to 3 minutes) or incomplete (about 90 seconds); in the latter case, it leads to increased lactic acid (responsible for the increase in circulating growth hormone), while in the former, it allows for a greater focus on strength expression (which imposes a mechanical stimulus for muscle growth in the muscle cross-section).

creatine supplement
creatine supplement

The article highlights the importance of proper nutrition and hydration when taking creatine supplement for muscle development.

6- Exercises

Incorporating regular stretching and relaxation techniques can help alleviate muscle tension and prevent muscle strain.

We'll keep it brief; standard abdominal movements work great and can be performed both with equipment and body weight. Some tools make it easier for beginners, while others make it more challenging for those who are more advanced:

Beginners can make use of the following tools, but under the supervision of a personal trainer:

AB Rocket;

Ab King Pro;

Ab Trainer.

Note: The use of the AB Trainer increases the activity of the upper abdominal portion of the rectus abdominis and reduces the activity of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (neck muscle) (Warden et al., Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999), making it useful for beginners or individuals with cervical problems.

The muscles of the body work together to provide movement, stability, and support for various activities.

With a moderate level, traditional bodyweight exercises can be performed, such as:

Crunch on a stability ball;

Reverse crunch on a mat;

Front and side plank;

Side bends on a mat;


Leg raises.

At an advanced level, one can start exploring complex practices using resistance or weights, as follows:

Crunches with a dumbbell at the chest;

Reverse crunches on an inclined bench;

Front and side planks on TRX;

Side bends on a specific bench with a dumbbell or cable cross;

Ab Roller Wheel;

Abs vacuum (advanced, even though it doesn't require equipment).

Muscle relaxers can be prescribed by a healthcare professional to relieve muscle spasms and promote relaxation.

ISE Incline Bench

The ISE incline bench allows for multifunctional training that benefits both the upper and lower body. The structure is coated steel, making it extremely stable and reliable. It is a versatile bench that, given its performance, is ideal for both beginners and professionals in the field. It is adjustable, providing more training options, and it is equipped with tools for upper and lower body exercises, offering the possibility of a complete workout.

Engaging in kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, improving overall muscle tone and control.

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