Why Do CrossFitters Have Bloated Abs?

Elite CrossFitters can be spotted a mile away by their thick, well-defined, blocky cores. Abs that show through their shirts.

Even subconsciously, we know abs like these aren’t built from doing a few situps before bed, or the ‘ab-blaster’ for 5 minutes a day..

So why do CrossFitters have just bloated abs? Is it healthy? And how do you get abs like these too?

CrossFitters have blocky, bloated abs for two reasons. They perform powerful, dynamic movements with extremely heavy weights which builds a thick and stable core. And, the high-intensity nature of the training style encourages calorie burning and fat loss meaning the abs are visible.

What Are Abdominal Muscles (Abs)

The abdominal muscles work together with back muscles to support a strong core. According to Pete McCall, writing for the American Council on Exercise, the abdominal muscles “are responsible for transferring forces generated from the ground, through the legs and trunk and, ultimately, out through the upper extremities.” These muscles include:

  • The rectus abdominis: which runs down the center of your abdomen from your chest to your pelvis. It is the one referred to as a wash board.
  • The internal and external obliques: which are located along the sides of your abdomen and rest in a diagonal position. The external obliques, when increased, are what contribute to the boxy look of the abs.
  • The transverse abdominis: which is located around the inside of the abdomen wall. When you contract your abdominal muscles and pull your navel toward your spine, you feel the transverse abdominis.

Why do CrossFitters Have Bloated Abs?

The exercises included in a CrossFit workout routine are designed to increase overall body strength and size. Since the abdominal muscles provide the base of support and stability for the exercises, these muscles are challenged during every workout. Therefore, they also increase in strength and size. In addition. CrossFit workouts contain specific core-strengthening exercises which further tax the abdominal muscles and stimulate their growth. 

Moreover, CrossFit workouts burn a high number of calories, which eliminates fat that typically reduces the visibility of abdominal muscles. So, the combination of total-body movements, core specific exercises, and calorie-burning routines, all contributed to the bloated, or well-defined, abs of Cross Fit athletes.

Are Blocky Abs Beneficial?

A strong core, which includes the abdominal muscles is beneficial for daily activities as well as for sports. For instance, strong, defined abdominal muscles support a healthy posture, which reduces your risk of back discomfort and overall fatigue. Strong abdominal muscles also allow you to perform daily chores such as grocery shopping, showing snow, raking leaves, vacuuming, carrying children, and doing laundry without the worry of overtaxing your back. The stronger your abdominal muscles are, the more support your back receives and this allows you to perform activities for longer durations without the risk of injuries. 

How do I Get Solid Abdominal Muscles?

Solid abdominal muscles are the result of dedication to your workout, eating, and lifestyle choices. Examples of athletes with visible, thick abdominal muscles include female CrossFit champions, bodybuilders, and other CrossFit athletes. These athletes are dedicated to an exercise routine such as CrossFit, use total-body exercises, abdominal specific movements, and monitor calorie intake to fuel workouts, but not store fat over their core. 

Speak with a CrossFit trainer to determine the best approach for you and also speak with your doctor regarding any physical limitations or dietary restrictions that you require. Then, schedule your workouts the same way you would schedule other important appointments, and do not let other commitments interfere with your workout time. Take that hour a day for yourself to focus on your fitness goals. 

Remember to listen to your body. If you are a beginner, expect to feel muscle soreness, but you should not feel extreme pain. As your body adjusts and your fitness level improves, increase the challenge of the exercises so that your abdominal muscles continue to respond and improve. Solid, bulky, well-defined abdominal muscles do not appear overnight. Remain dedicated to your program, use a variety of exercises to activate your core and your abdominal muscles will show themselves when they are ready!

Additional Sources:

https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/prosource/april-2016/5865/functional-anatomy-series-the-abdominals/

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