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Keeping your abs flexed during the day won't guarantee a six pack, but could help improve your posture.
The core muscles are a trouble zone for many people, and fitness advocates often vary in their suggestions for how to best develop a sculpted midsection. There's no secret remedy to create a six-pack; instead, core work paired with reduced calorie intake will strengthen muscles while burning calories for a leaner, more exposed musculature. It's not necessarily bad to flex your stomach or abdominal muscles all day, but there are probably more effective ways to strengthen this area. Also, people sometimes hold their breath while flexing, so flexing all day could disrupt your normal breathing patterns.
Understanding Stomach-Area Muscles
Your abdominal muscles include the rectus abdominis and the internal and external oblique muscles. The rectus abdominis is a long, flat section of muscle fibers extending from the pubic area to the middle section of your rib cage, according to the University of New Mexico. The external oblique muscles flank the rectus abdominis, extending toward the lower ribs in a V-shape. The internal oblique muscles create an inverted V-shape stretching from the pelvis to the lower ribs. The oblique muscles help you rotate laterally. The abdominal muscles' deepest layer is the transversus abdominis, which help compress your internal organs and facilitate breathing.
Challenges with Isolating Stomach Muscles
One reason that flexing your stomach muscles all day might not be the best option for core strengthening is that you might not be able to determine which muscles are being flexed, reducing overall strength-building. Because hip flexors often work together with stomach muscles to facilitate some core movements, you might be isolating the wrong muscle groups. Flexing your stomach muscles throughout the day helps keep them engaged, but they're not doing a lot of work. For example, flexing your abs while standing up doesn't offer much in the way of resistance compared to lying prone or supine when performing strengthening exercises, because the torso's weight and gravity come into play in the latter. Stomach muscles aren't particularly involved with walking, according to the University of New Mexico, so flexing while you're walking around doesn't guarantee a core workout.
Steps for Optimum Engagement
If you want to flex throughout the day, begin by sitting or standing up straight and relaxing your shoulders, according to ESPN. Keep your spine neutral, and then pull your navel in toward your spine to engage your transverse muscles. Activate your oblique muscles by keeping your ribcage aligned directly over your pelvis, and then lift your pelvic floor muscles -- muscles associated with performing Kegel exercises -- to engage the lower abs. Trying to keep these muscle groups engaged throughout the day could help improve your posture, increase back strength and provide additional exercise for the abdominal region. You can think of the movement as engaging your core muscles to pull on a tight pair of pants.
The Belly Magnet
When you're walking around, you can imagine that your navel is a magnet pulling in toward your spine. Although keeping your stomach muscles flexed throughout the day won't guarantee washboard abs, the engagement of your belly button moving toward your spine provides additional exercise and could help improve your posture. The more you practice this movement, the more of a chance it will become like second-nature to you, according to Today.com.