As a singer, we know it’s important to expand the ribcage fully upon inhalation so that the diaphragm can descend, creating space for the lungs to expand. But have you thought about how the abdominals affect the breathing system? Let’s look at the different muscle groups and the roles they play in breath coordination.
First and the most visible is the rectus abdominus or commonly know as the “six pack” muscles. This is the outer most set of muscles that are made up of square shaped tissue. They connect the pubic bone and the ribcage together. So, if these muscles are overly tight, then the ribcage has the potential to not full expand as it should. And guess what ab workouts tighten the rectus? CRUNCHES. So, STOP DOING THEM!
Turns out that there are more important muscle groups to strengthen and develop -- that are sometimes overlooked at the gym. These are the deeper layer muscle tissues that more directly impact structural alignment and posture. They are called the transverse abdominals and keep the mid-section stable around the spine. If the transverse abs are underdeveloped, then the external tissue is not properly held together, thereby making it more difficult to control your breathing. To strengthen the transverse abs, try some PLANKS, AB ROLL OUTS or other exercises that draw the belly button toward the spine. For an added challenge, try moving extremities during front or side planks.
The other important muscle group for singers are the internal and external obliques. These muscles keep the ribcage at the right angle. If the obliques are underdeveloped, then the ribcage can tilt and it can become more difficult to manage the breath. To strengthen and align, TWISTING/ROTATION exercises are the most effective (like the torso twisting resistance machines).
In short, the key to good abs and an efficient breathing mechanism is strong transverse abdominals and internal/external obliques. If you only have a strong rectus, it’s sort of like having a really shiny car but an engine that doesn’t work. So, the next time you’re workin’ on YOSELF, throw in some extra planks and twists-- and ditch the crunches.
Source: UNITE FITNESS - http://www.unitefitness.com/philly-east/2016/09/24/six-pack-muscle/