Just about all the commercials and ads for fitness equipment are oriented to one part of the body alone: the abdominal muscles. According to the workout establishment hype of the last couple decades, the abs are the most important muscle group. Indeed, if you follow the advice of many exercise gurus, they are the alpha and omega of the entire body.
Of course, everyone wants washboard abs! For men, it’s the best way to attract women, if you believe all the marketing out there. For females, it’s the key to being alluring and automatically shapes all the rest of you into hourglass proportions. Who knows? An ad may come along next claiming that rippling abdominals will even give you a good credit rating!
Certainly, strong muscles in the mid-section will be a key factor in protecting your back. When lifting, this muscle group will combine with strong legs to perform the task safely. Contracting the abs to tilt the pelvis forward also helps keep the spine properly aligned and prevents any sagging of the belly, which will pull the spine downward. Other than these uses, though, the ab muscles are far less dominant than people are lead to believe.
The most important muscle to maintain in good condition is the heart. Most consider this to be only an organ–and, while it is that, the heart is composed of smooth muscle. Aerobic workouts–where the respiratory rate is increased, blood is pumping, and the heart gets good exercise–are the ideal way to help the coronary muscle tissue stay healthy, along with a heart-healthy diet (ie., low-fat, low sodium, adequate hydration, good all-around nutrition). For tight abdominals, the type of exercise is more anaerobic–resistance with weights, and sit-ups along with other calisthenics that work that section.
Focusing primarily on one area of the body–whether the ab muscles or anywhere else–is not good for balancing of the health of organs, muscles, limbs, etc. The body is a complex system and needs all its various parts in good shape to function properly together.