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Anatomy of Abdominal Muscles

Knowing more about the anatomy of your abdominal muscles can help you get even better results out of your abs workouts.

The following muscles make up your abdominal muscle anatomy:

  • rectus abdominis
  • external obliques
  • internal obliques
  • transverse abdominis

The abdominal muscles work together in order to provide movement to the trunk and postural support, and assist in the breathing process. Your ab exercises can be designed to train these muscles in combination or in isolation.

Rectus Abdominus Muscles

This is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles and when fully developed with strength exercise it is also the most prominent abdominal muscle. When you see well defined 6 pack abs you see the rectus abdominis muscle.

The rectus abdominis muscle runs from your lower chest to your pubic bone. Its six-pack shape is due to the three fibrous bands (called the linae transversae or tendinous intersections) that cross the muscle and the linea alba that runs down the midline of the abdomen.

If your rectus abdominis muscle is extremely well defined, it can appear to be "eight pack" abs, since all of its eight sections will be defined.

Though you will often hear terms like upper abs, lower abs, exercises for lower abs, etc., this is in fact one muscle.

External Oblique Muscles

The external obliques (or obliquus externus muscles) are located on either side of the torso.

These outermost abdominal muscles are broad and irregularly quadrilateral. In most men the oblique muscles are not visible because of subcutaneous fat deposits.

Internal Obliques

The internal oblique muscles lie underneath the external obliques and are smaller and thinner than them. They are triangularly shaped and are not visible even when fully developed.

Transversus Abdominis

The transverse abdominus muscle is the deepest abdominal muscle. It cannot be touched from the outside and therefore it is often overlooked; however when trained properly the transverse abdominis can pull your stomach in, and thus give you a slimmer profile.

Exercises for Abdominal Muscles

As we mentioned there are exercises that can help you train the different abdominal muscles in isolation. Here are some of the most popular exercises with instructions which ab muscles they develop.

  • Crunches and Reverse Crunches:

    They develop the rectus abdominis muscle. Crunches are focusing more on the upper abs (the upper part of the rectus abdominis muscle) while reverse crunches are focusing more on the lower abs.

  • Crossovers, Side Bends, and Bicycles:

    These are some of the exercises that work the obliques. Some sports such as tennis and golf also work these muscles.

For more effective abdominal exercises working the abdominal muscles in isolation, as well as full-body multi-joint exercises, you can get a copy of "The Truth about Six Pack Abs" program by Mike Geary.

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