A little excerpt from the section on abdominal training, its importance and impact on health, beauty and strength, from Georges Hébert’s book:
The importance of abdominal muscles is capital, from an esthetics standpoint, as well as from strength and health standpoints.
When their development is insufficient, the abdominal belt is soft and mushy. There is a risk of herniation as a result of any effort, even of low intensity, after a fall, a simple misstep, a coughing spell, etc.
The internal organs (stomach, liver, intestines) improperly supported collapse under their own weight and make the belly protrude. The more this protrusion is pronounced, the more out of place the internal organs are in relation to their normal position. The resulting swelling render any effort hazardous. [PIC]
Severe constipation, without success from medical prescriptions or pharmaceutical drugs, sometimes has no other cause than weakness in the abdominal musculature, or a simple lack of muscular training in that area, which helps promote waste elimination.
Breathing movements are always incomplete if the straight abdominals, exhaling muscles by excellence, are weak.
A woman’s most important natural act, childbirth, is all the more facilitated that the abdominal muscles are powerfully developed.
As we just mentioned, not only do these muscles provide a shield for the anterior section of the body from ribs to iliac crest, but, additionally, any effort, be it pulling, pushing, lifting, etc., activates them more or less. Natural actions themselves: forced exhale, coughing, sneezing, shouting, defecation and finally childbirth, cannot occur without their engagement.
The future mother who keeps her abdominals “in shape” can continue well into her pregnancy, without risk, all sorts of natural and functional exercises, just like females in animal species. Her pregnant belly is reduced in volume, as a result of the firmness of her abdominal belt. Delivery is produced with extreme ease, in the fashion of active primitive women, without the necessity of a midwife. She is able to immediately resume her activities. Her stomach suffers no misshaping.
Abdominal weakness, by contrast, produces excessive pregnant belly volume. Any work or training becomes impossible early on, because of the nuisance caused by the belly’s distension. A simple walk often causes great fatigue. Any intense effort is dangerous.
Childbirth, in that case, is painful; it necessitates many days of bed rest for the organs to settle back in.
After delivery, the belly remains distended, like an empty sack, with stretch marks.
Such is the physical inferiority of the civilized woman, inactive with no abdominal muscles, in relation to her primitive counterpart. When she delivers a child, she is treated as if she were ill. The natural act becomes delicate and dangerous instead of being “easy” and safe.
In Antique statues, the power of the abdominal muscles is striking in men as in women. The abdomen is a true muscular fortress. Sculptors understood the capital importance of these muscles, and their work proves they were considered like the primary attributes of health, beauty and strength.
We can say that in civilized societies, the abdominal muscles of men, like women, have become weaker and weaker as the practice of natural and functional exercises, which would develop them, dropped: throwing, climbing, etc. The wearing of corsets, among women, has been a new cause of abdominal weakness.
Several generations will be needed, through training, before we can see the return of remarkable and powerful musculatures seen on Antique statues, especially when it comes to oblique muscles. Only a few athletes have such perfect development.