When you ask someone to describe a top feature that makes someone fit, what is it? Most times the first thing that comes to mind is abs. 

We set goals to try and get flat and well toned abdominal muscles. 

We jump right into doing all these ab exercises. Yet, most of us don’t even  know what muscles make up your abdominal region. 

There are actually 4 different muscle groups in the abdomen. 

You have your external oblique, internal oblique, transverse abdominis, and Rectus abdominis. 

They each play a role in your core, strength and posture. 

Now let’s go through and learn about each one! 

 

Rectus Abdominis 

When you think “six pack” this is the abdominal muscle responsible for them. 

Located centrally at the anterior aspect (front) of your body. Between your ribs and pubic bone. 

The Rectus abdominis has eight distinct portions to it. How is that? Well, there is a sheath of connective tissue called linea alba that divides at the midline (vertically) splitting the muscle into two parallel sides.

Running horizontally across we have three fibrous bands called tendinous intersections. 

The outer line that gives that defining frame to the Rectus abdominis is called the linea semilunaris. 

All three of these parts give us that washboard look. 

This muscle is key in posture helping stabilize the trunk of your body. It also assists in flexing your spine (bending forward)

 

External obliques

Located on both the left and right side of your body. This is the abdominal muscle that allows your body to twist. When twisting your external oblique is activated on the opposite side you are turning towards. So, if you are turning your torso to the right you are using the left external oblique and vice versa. 

 

Internal Obliques

The internal obliques lie just below the external obliques and off behind the rectus abdominis. Just as the external obliques they function to assist in turning the trunk of your body, bending sideways and flexing your spine. 

Now unlike how the external obliques had opposite contractions. The internal obliques control the same side. So when you twist to the right your right internal oblique is being used. 

 

Transversus abdominis

Alright, now let’s get to the core of things. This muscle is your deepest of the abdominal muscles. The transverse abdominis muscle lies underneath your Rectus abdominis and obliques and wraps around the torso of your body (often called the corset muscle). Although, this portion of your abs is not one that will be aesthetically visual, it is a major player in your core and stability and respiration. This muscle helps stabilize your lumbar spine and that’s a big deal. Having a weak transverse abdominis muscle can be a cause of lower back pain. 

 

Workouts for Better Abs 

Training your abs is not blasting through a ton of reps. 

Slow and controlled is key. 

Many exercises involve other muscles as well. Really use your mind to focus in on the targeted muscle. 

Inhaling and exhaling is crucial when it comes to abdominal exercises to create a strong core. 

Tryout some of these abdominal workouts and see if you can focus in on the targeted muscle. If you are unsure on how to do any of these abdominal workouts please feel free to contact us!

Rectus abdominis:

Hollow Man, Flutter Kicks, Jack Knife, Crunch, Reverse crunch

Obliques: 

Russian twists, Bicycles, plank hip dips 

Transverse Abdominis: 

With this muscle it is very important to have a mind-body focus. Now going back to the description I mentioned how this muscle assists in respiration. So either just sitting on a chair, yoga block, etc. sit with your spine in a neutral position inhaling deep breaths and slowly exhaling pulling your belly button towards your spine. 

Another good one for this muscle is the bird dog. Slowly extending your arm and leg up while focusing on your breathing and pulling your belly button to your spine.