There have been many fitness trends over the years and an equal number of physical observations which are intended to show how fit our bodies appear. Most of us have heard of terms such as “love handles”, cellulite and even gynecomastia (an increase in the size of male breast tissue). However, there is a new phrase which has been sweeping its way through social media circles such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. “Ab cracks” (or abdominal cracks) seem to be the latest fitness trend. Just what exactly are ab cracks, are they healthy and can they be achieved by the average individual? Let us take a look at the answers to these and a few other questions.
A Look at the Abdomen
To appreciate the term “ab crack”, we first need to understand how the muscles of the abdomen are formed. Some of the main muscle groups include:
- The rectus abdominus
- The serratus anterior
- The internal and external obliques
- The transversus abdominus
Of course, all of these names are rather scientific in nature. For the sake of this article, we will be referring to what is commonly known as the “six-pack” abdomen. The set of rectus abdominus muscles are those which display the much-envied look. These muscles are then separated by a type of connective tissue known as fascia. The number of “packs” that a person will display depends upon how many times the fascia crosses the abdominal region. Some individuals are able to boast an “eight pack” while even renowned bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger could only achieve a “four pack” at the height of their career. So, the appearance of the abdominal muscles has just as much to do with genetics and the fascia tissue as it does with fitness and fat loss. Now, let us look at how ab cracks fit into this picture.
Definition of an Ab Crack
To put it in the simplest of terms, the “ab crack” is actually a type of fascia (connective tissue) known scientifically as the linea alba. It runs down the centre of the abdomen. In other words, it helps to separate the two halves of the abdomen. The linia alba serves may purposes; one of the most important being to provide support to surrounding muscles when the torso is under stress. Without this centre line, the entire abdominal wall would become much weaker and as a result, injuries such as a hernia would be much more likely to develop. Even if it is not visible, all of us have this feature somewhere deep down.
However, there are some individuals who are able to display a much more well-defined ab crack. Some common celebrity examples include Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid. Most who are able to display this feature are known to have very low body fat and a slim waistline. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to see fitness professionals and models proudly exhibiting an ab crack. Now that we have a basic understanding of this feature, let us take a look at another condition which is quite similar as well as some ways to possibly achieve such a look.
An Ab Crack or Something More Serious?
Many women are concerned with their figure; especially after giving birth. When a woman is pregnant, her muscles (and the surrounding connective tissue) will naturally stretch. After childbirth, it is common for the abdominal wall to return to its original muscular shape. However, there are some times when this is not the case. It is estimated that one-third of all women suffer from a condition known as diastasis recti. This occurs when the muscles on either side of the centre line of the abdomen do NOT return to their original position. This can lead to the appearance of an ab crack, but it actually causes one’s belly to slightly bulge. As this is a physical result of childbirth, no amount of exercise or dieting in the world will ever return the abdomen to its original shape (surgery may be an option in some instances). Although this is not a serious ailment, the danger is that some females may believe that their shape is due to poor diet or not enough exercise. In turn, they could place their bodies under a severe amount of stress to achieve a flat stomach that is simply not possible through conventional means.
Is an Ab Crack Healthy?
The question of whether or not an ab crack is healthy has much to do with the individual in question and his or her body type. We should first recognise two key facts:
- Not everyone has this type of connective tissue to display.
- Ab cracks depend just as much upon genetics as they involve diet and regular exercise.
There is nothing particularly unhealthy in regards to an ab crack. The methods surrounding how one attempts to achieve such a look are more important. There are some (especially those in the fitness or modelling industry) who will put their bodies under immense physical pressure to develop such a crack. This may involve severely limited diets, hours of exercise at a time and even unhealthy levels of dehydration. When taken to the extreme, any of these practices can do more harm than good. As much as we would like to, none of us can change how our bodies were formed since birth. Those who are still in doubt should perform a Google search utilising a term such as “ripped abdominal muscles”. Every image will appear slightly different. This arises from the fact that no two abdomens are alike. Some will seem to be more symmetrical than others and undoubtedly, some of those with the lowest body mass index (BMI) will still not exhibit the vaunted ab crack.
Achieving an Ab Crack
There is no set formula to develop an ab crack. This arises from the fact that it is located in the centre of the abdomen itself. Although it is possible to selectively target some muscle groups such as the intercostals or the obliques, the same cannot be said for this vertical line. Instead, an overall aerobic routine should be chosen. This can then be paired with movements specifically designed to target the abdominal region. Some examples here will include:
- Leg raises
- Hanging leg raises
- Static planks
Once again, diet plays an important role in developing definition throughout the entire abdominal region. Common suggestions include avoiding fats, complex carbohydrates and sugars. Drinking plenty of water will help to prevent bloating and sticking with fresh fruits and vegetables is able to provide a ready source of energy for those high-impact workout routines.
People like Jen Selter or Izabel Goulart are working hard for her ab crack.
Ab Cracks in a Nutshell
Many fitness specialists feel that ab cracks are nothing more than a trend which will soon fade away. This is actually quite similar to the desire to achieve the “v” taper at the bottom two abdominals that occurred a decade ago. The one critical fact to keep in mind is that unlike losing a few kilogrammes around the midsection or toning one’s triceps, not everyone has the ability to display a well-defined vertical ab crack. If you have been working your abdominals hard for months and still see no hints of the slightest crack emerging, it could very well be the case that your body is simply not built to support one. There is nothing wrong with this and over time, you can still display a rock-hard midsection. Just be patient and realise that each individual and his or her abdomen are entirely unique!