In a previous post, I discussed the evidence that supports the ability to target the upper vs. the lower abdominal region. For those who still aren’t convinced, check out the video below. It shows a bodybuilder actively “rolling” his abdominal wall, sequentially controlling the different segments of his rectus abdominis.
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Still skeptical that this proves cause and effect? Well, a recent study showed that such movements, in fact, do indicate preferential recruitment of the upper and lower rectus (1). Researchers studied middle-eastern belly dancers, using EMG to assess muscle activity in the rectus abdominis. Results showed significant differences in activation levels between the upper and lower abs throughout dance movements. It again clearly indicates that provided you have muscular control over your abdominal region, the rectus abdominis does function as semi-independent units that can be selectively targeted depending on the choice of exercise.
1) Moreside JM, Vera-Garcia FJ, McGill SM. (2008). Neuromuscular independence of abdominal wall muscles as demonstrated by middle-eastern style dancers. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2008 Aug;18(4):527-37