I like a get loud exercise class. Not just having the music turned up, but also the people actively participating with hoots and hollers. It creates a fun energetic atmosphere and a better workout for the individual.
Yelling and grunting forces better breathing, which recruits the ever so important transverse abdominal muscle (TA muscle). Many like to kill their gut doing sit-ups in hopes of achieving a six-pack midsection. Unless you have low body fat, strengthening the rectus-abdominals with crunches will cause your belly to pooch out. Instead, focusing on the TA muscle will make the waistline look slimmer but also allow more stability and decrease back strain.
How does yelling help this? The TA muscle is a breathing muscle. As you breathe in your diaphragm fills and your belly drops. In order to make a loud noise while exhaling, your TA muscle contracts tightening its girdle around your organs.
The louder you yell from the gut the tighter you squeeze this muscle, thus strengthening it (be sure your yell is coming from the belly and not from the throat).
- Try this; -Lie on the floor on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor and allow your lower back to become flat as well.
- Take a deep breath allowing the belly button to draw down toward the floor.
- As you exhale tighten your abdominal muscles as if you are bracing yourself before someone punches your stomach. This will engage the TA without using the rectus abdominals or flexing stomach muscles.
- Continue to keep the navel pressed to the spine as you breathe in and out, squeezing tighter every time you exhale.
- Try letting out an audible “ha” while you exhale.
- Practice this movement so it can become second nature while performing other exercises or just moving throughout the day.
Doing this I have found great stability in my core but I’ve also had to be careful NOT to clench my butt cheeks which can contribute to overly tight hip flexors (see my blog: Stretch and Build Lower Body Strength)
Pilates is a good way to strengthen the TA muscle because there is a lot of focus on stability and breathing from this area. Yoga encourages this too when focusing on the Bandhas (see my blog: Squeeze Your Bandhas)
Now back to the issue of loud noise making… It feels good to let it out with a yell or a grunt while your exerting force, jumping jacks or dancing, but you also work harder. You must try it to experience the difference. A team of college researchers wondered if this was true and conducted a small experiment, which happened to win the Biomedical Science Award for Undergraduates at Drexel Research Day. It found people exerted a significant increase of force when yelling (see “Science of Grunting” link below). Working the TA is the icing on the cake.
So the next time you’re at the gym or in a fitness class don’t be shy about making noise. It’s a gym, not a library! Encourage everyone around you to be loud and this will motivate the instructor too. Always discuss your exercise routine with your doctor.
The Science of Grunting: https://whyy.org/segments/the-science-of-grunting-while-weightlifting/
Stretch and Build Lower Body Strength: https://easydrugcard.com/exercise/stretch-and-build-lower-body-strength/
Squeeze Your Bandhas: https://easydrugcard.com/exercise/bandhas-why-it-matters-to-strengthen-them/