I (Jessie) think many (if not ALL) of us have ooohed and awwwwed over some nice sets of abs we like to call a six-pack. I’m betting that if you have a gymnast in your home, you’re more than aware of their existence. But why are they called six-packs and how in the blazes do you get one?
Jessie’s son unintentionally showing off his six pack, mid-laugh!
Well, the easy answer is that they look like a six pack of soda or dinner rolls from the bird’s eye view: six nicely rounded balls of pure muscle. You get them by working hard and eating right. But that’s too easy for GymGab. Lets get technical!
Those pretty muscles (actually, its ONE muscle) under the ribs is actually called the Rectus Abdominus (Recked-us Ab-dohm-in-us) muscle and it has the very important role in maintaining a person’s posture. It is not only responsible for that, as it also assists in the mechanism of breathing and keeping our innards in place. It is also a key contributor to the flexing of the lumbar spine–which, in gymnastics, is absolutely necessary.
The Rectus Abdominus is a long, flat muscle which makes its way down the entire front of the abdomen and is separated down the middle by a fibrous structure called the Linea Alba (Lin-EE-ya Al-buh)–which, having had three children, is to thank for allowing my abs to STRETTTTTCH to an enormous size without me ripping in half (as I thought I might). Each section is then separated into three unequal sections (though, on some bellies, they sure look equal to me!) by cartilage attached to the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs. Not too complicated, eh?!
To get these muscles, one must do several things–also not too complicated–unless you’re unwilling to give up a few things and start working hard. The first is to NOT drink a six-pack of soda. As a matter of fact, do quite the opposite. Take all the soda in your house, hoist it over your head, and throw it as far as you possibly can! Not only is this flexing the lumbar spine which works the abdominal muscles, it is also getting rid of a HUGE contributing factor to weight gain and pot bellies!
Without getting too in depth with nutrition (which I hope to do in later posts) just remember that a diet low in simple & refined sugars/carbs, and high in nutrient dense foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, etc. will get you much closer to having the chiseled abs that your gymnast [probably] has!
“But my gymnast LOVES sugar and eats all that stuff and she still has a six-pack!” Well, to you, my friend, I want to remind you that A–s/he is working out several hours a day, B–s/he is much younger than you, and C–have you seen the type of stuff they do?!
Gymnasts do innumerable exercises for core (aka mid-section) strength like crunches, sit ups, leg lifts, V-snaps, pull-overs, glide-swings, press-handstands, handstand holds, push-ups, etc. Just about everything your gymnast does in the gym is a workout for his/her ab–the rectus abdominus, the transverse abdominus, and internal & external abdominal obliques.
Getting a six-pack is pretty dang hard—but EARNING one isn’t all that tough. You just have to put in the work. We’ve got another goal for you, as a gymnastics parent: Work on your abs this year!
We’d love to see pictures of tough parent/child abs! We’ll post them if you’ve got them! Good luck and let us know how you feel while you work on it! And remember, when it comes to abs, a six-pack is worth much more than a keg!