T Nation

Rectus Abdominis Muscle Left/Right Isolation?


#1

Long time reader, first post!

I've been prioritizing my abs recently to try and get some more size and shape in my rectus abdominis muscles. Using some weighted crunches on a bosu ball and weighted incline situps I've been able to increase size and visibility over the last couple of months.

Does anyone know if adding a twist somewhat isolates the left or right 'ab' muscle? It seems to if I just feel my upper abs with my hand while twisting my torso (one side of 'six pack' seems contracted, other seems relaxed). If so, it seems like there might be a benefit to working the left and right side of your abs (rectus abdominis, not obliques).

Any suggestions or pointers? Any other good movements to increase strength and muscle size here?

Thanks!

Randy


#2

[quote]Mediumrare wrote:
I’ve been prioritizing my abs recently to try and get some more size and shape in my rectus abdominis muscles.[/quote]
First things first, the best way to get “more shape” in your abs is to drop bodyfat. Your profile says you’re 5’10", 180, and 10% bodyfat. That’s pretty lean for sure, but shaving off some more fat will get your abs to “pop” more. Can you toss up a current pic for reference?

The weighted ab work you’re doing will help build muscle, but bodyfat is pretty much the be-all, end-all determination of how good your abs end up looking.

The rectus abdominus is one muscle, so there’s no way to work one “side” and not the other. It’s not like the biceps that do have two heads and respond slightly differently to different exercises. However, there are a few other muscles in the “upper ab area” (the external obliques or even the serratus) that you could be involving. Those are located on each side and can be focused on with twisting.

Flexion (crunch variations), rotation (twisting variations), anti-flexion (plank variations), and anti-rotation (Pallof press variations). Addressing those throughout the week should have you covered.


#3

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed response! That’s a lot of good info.

To address your first point, I’m quite lean (especially the skin over my four pack region - feels like just skin over muscle), and the 10% is probably pretty accurate for me. I think it’s good advice that getting leaner will show more of a six pack, but if the muscles aren’t big there won’t be much to show, right?

Well building the muscles has given me visible abs while keeping my bodyweight the same over the last couple of months, at least. I’ll upload the only recent pic I have, not much to see, though. I do agree that getting leaner is a good goal for seeing abs, but I’ve never been this lean before, so we’ll see how I do :slight_smile:

As far as the abs being one muscle goes, I know that the upper and lower ab sections operate together always, but the two muscles (left and right) are not the same or 100% independent as far as I can tell - hence my questions. I’ll bet you can crunch at an angle in your chair now (as can I) and get one side of your abs to contract while the other is relaxed (people in my office probably think I’m ill or something if they’re watching me now).

Wikipedia says: “The rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the “abdominals or abs,” is a paired muscle … There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue called the linea alba.”

Those are good exercise suggestions. I didn’t even know about the Pallof press - I’ll have to check it out!

Thanks,
Randy


#4

Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.


#5

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]

X2

Leaning back like that with downlighting isn’t fooling anyone.


#6

Ecchastang and dagill2 - I’m sure you’re both right.


#7

Ecchastang and dagill2 - I’m sure you’re both right.


#8

I’m a fan of very-high-volume crunches and hanging leg lifts. I have never done a set of weighted sit-ups in my life. My back has never touched a bosu ball.

Looking at your pic, you seem to be sporting well-developed abs. IMO, the only thing that will enhance their appearance at this juncture is losing BF.


#9

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]
To be fair, I don’t think that pic alone is enough to give a fair estimate. Quality and attributes of the pic aside, we can’t see his back, face, or lower body. I know I, for one, always have a leaner lower body relative to my torso.


#10

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]
To be fair, I don’t think that pic alone is enough to give a fair estimate. Quality and attributes of the pic aside, we can’t see his back, face, or lower body. I know I, for one, always have a leaner lower body relative to my torso.[/quote]
That’s why I said “appear” instead of say, Dude, there is no way in hell you are 10%. Some carry bf differently.


#11

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]
To be fair, I don’t think that pic alone is enough to give a fair estimate. Quality and attributes of the pic aside, we can’t see his back, face, or lower body. I know I, for one, always have a leaner lower body relative to my torso.[/quote]
That’s why I said “appear” instead of say, Dude, there is no way in hell you are 10%. Some carry bf differently. [/quote]
Of course. Just felt like giving my input.


#12

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
I’m a fan of very-high-volume crunches and hanging leg lifts. I have never done a set of weighted sit-ups in my life. My back has never touched a bosu ball.

Looking at your pic, you seem to be sporting well-developed abs. IMO, the only thing that will enhance their appearance at this juncture is losing BF. [/quote]

Also: hair removal.


#13

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]
To be fair, I don’t think that pic alone is enough to give a fair estimate. Quality and attributes of the pic aside, we can’t see his back, face, or lower body. I know I, for one, always have a leaner lower body relative to my torso.[/quote]
That’s why I said “appear” instead of say, Dude, there is no way in hell you are 10%. Some carry bf differently. [/quote]
Of course. Just felt like giving my input.[/quote]

FWIW I think this is also another case of a person having a perception of what 10% bf is because it’s thrown around in the media and shit. Adding this to your quote tree even though it’s more relevant to the ‘not fooling anyone’ reply. I don’t think OP was trying to fool anyone, just doesn’t really know what 10% bf is.


#14

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]
To be fair, I don’t think that pic alone is enough to give a fair estimate. Quality and attributes of the pic aside, we can’t see his back, face, or lower body. I know I, for one, always have a leaner lower body relative to my torso.[/quote]

back, face, lower body, shoe…


#15

[quote]red04 wrote:

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:

[quote]spar4tee wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Don’t be offended, but you don’t appear 10%.[/quote]
To be fair, I don’t think that pic alone is enough to give a fair estimate. Quality and attributes of the pic aside, we can’t see his back, face, or lower body. I know I, for one, always have a leaner lower body relative to my torso.[/quote]
That’s why I said “appear” instead of say, Dude, there is no way in hell you are 10%. Some carry bf differently. [/quote]
Of course. Just felt like giving my input.[/quote]

FWIW I think this is also another case of a person having a perception of what 10% bf is because it’s thrown around in the media and shit. Adding this to your quote tree even though it’s more relevant to the ‘not fooling anyone’ reply. I don’t think OP was trying to fool anyone, just doesn’t really know what 10% bf is.[/quote]

yeah people generally think that the minute they see definition in the abs that they’re 10%.

Dude’s hardly fat though so it’s not such a big deal anyhow


#16

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
I’m a fan of very-high-volume crunches and hanging leg lifts. I have never done a set of weighted sit-ups in my life. My back has never touched a bosu ball.

Looking at your pic, you seem to be sporting well-developed abs. IMO, the only thing that will enhance their appearance at this juncture is losing BF. [/quote]

Also: hair removal. [/quote]
This is good advice. I have been bulking for the last few months, and have gone from 153 in June to 165 this morning. I normally trim up my chest/ab hair about 2-3 times per year. When I trimmed it up last week, I was surprised how my abs looked. I was beginning to wonder if I had added too much fat, but I just needed the right perspective.


#17

Also, nothing makes abs “pop” like a bigger chest. Abs on a skinny guy are like tits on a fat chick…they don’t count.


#18

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Also, nothing makes abs “pop” like a bigger chest. Abs on a skinny guy are like tits on a fat chick…they don’t count. [/quote]

you still motorboat those puppies, don’t pretend you don’t.


#19

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Also, nothing makes abs “pop” like a bigger chest. Abs on a skinny guy are like tits on a fat chick…they don’t count. [/quote]

you still motorboat those puppies, don’t pretend you don’t.[/quote]
Every chance I get!


#20

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
I’m a fan of very-high-volume crunches and hanging leg lifts. I have never done a set of weighted sit-ups in my life. My back has never touched a bosu ball.

Looking at your pic, you seem to be sporting well-developed abs. IMO, the only thing that will enhance their appearance at this juncture is losing BF. [/quote]

Thanks for the compliment and for weighing in, EyeDentist! I do like hanging leg lifts - they seem to really hit my abs well.

Randy