The Abdominals are composed of a number of muscles...the Rectus Abdominis, the Transverse Abdominis, and the External and Internal Obliques.
Anatomy Chart courtesy of FCIT
The Abdominal muscles sit on the front and sides of the lower half of the torso, originating along the rib cage and attaching along the pelvis.
The Rectus Abdominis muscle is commonly known as the "six-pack" muscle of the abs. Thin bands of connective tissue give it that appearance.
The Transverse Abdominis (also known as the Transversus) is the deepest muscle of the core (meaning it's underneath all the other muscles). It wraps laterally around the abdominal area.
The fibers of External and Internal Obliques run diagonally on the body, allowing for angled movement.
Functions of the Abdominal Muscles
Flex the spine (bringing the rib cage closer to the pelvis). This is seen in the abdominal crunching movement. When the movement is reversed, the Rectus Abdominis acts to bring the pelvis closer to the rib cage (e.g. with a leg raise movement).
Acts as a natural weight belt, keeping your insides in. This muscle is essential for trunk stability as well as keeping your waist tight.
Internal and External Obliques
The obliques work to rotate the torso and stabilize the abdomen.
The serratus muscle stabilizes and "locks down" the scapula against the chest wall during shoulder movements such as push-ups or bench press. They're named for the "sawtooth" appearance on the front aspect of the body.
Some common exercises that work the Abdominals include:
Visit the Abdominal Exercise Index for more movements for your abs.
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