Get to know your abs to learn how they work (2023)

Abs are part of your core, including your back and glutes. They work together to provide stability and mobility to the spine and support the pelvis. Strong abdominal muscles help prevent back pain and injuries.

To get the most out of your abs workout, it's helpful to know which exercises work best and which ones don't. Certain equipment or movements in the abdominal area may even increase the risk of injury.It's also worth knowing where each abdominal muscle is, what they do and how to train them with the least risk of injury.

flat belly

The best known and most prominent abdominal muscle is the rectus abdominis. It is the long, flat muscle that runs vertically between the pubic bone and the fifth, sixth and seventh ribs. The rectus abdominis is attached to the xiphoid process, a bony landmark at the bottom of the sternum.

A strong, firm sheath called the "linea alba," or white line, divides the rectus abdominis muscle in half. Three more horizontal tendon sheaths give the muscle its usual shape.ABS"Look at the very fit athletes.

The rectus abdominis helps to bend the spine and narrows the space between the pelvis and the ribs. It is also active during lateral bending movements and helps stabilize the trunk during limb and head movements.

Exercises that primarily target the rectus abdominis include:Hanging leg raises, stability ball crimps and cable crimps.

external obliques

The next muscle group that makes up the abdominal muscles is the external obliques. This pair of muscles is located on each side of the rectus abdominis.

The muscle fibers of the external obliques run diagonally down and into the lower ribs.pooland form the letter V. You can find them by putting your hands in your coat pockets.

The external obliques originate from the fifth through twelfth ribs and insert at the popliteal crest, inguinal ligament, and rectus abdominis line. They allow for spinal flexion, trunk rotation, side bending and abdominal compression.

Exercises that target the obliques include:bicycle push-upand rival climbers walking hand in hand.

internal obliques

The internal obliques are a pair of deep muscles located just below the external obliques. The inner and outer side plates are at right angles to each other.

The internal obliques extend from the lower three ribs to the linea alba and from the inguinal ligament to the iliac crest and then to the lumbar region (thoracolumbar fascia). The inferior muscle fibers of the internal oblique muscle run almost horizontally.

Along with the external obliques, the internal obliques are involved in spinal flexion, lateral bending, and spinal flexion.Rumpfrotationand abdominal tightening.

Because of their unique orientation (at right angles to each other), the internal and external oblique muscles are known as contralateral rotators. Both sides lean to the same side, but left external oblique rotates the trunk/spine to the right, while left internal oblique rotates the trunk/spine to the left.

Exercises that target the internal obliques include hanging rotary knee raises, pallof presses, side planks, and turkish frills.

transverse abdomen

The deepest layer of abdominal muscles is called the "transverse abdominis" or TVA. The TVA muscle surrounds the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis. Its muscle fibers run horizontally, similar to a corset or weight belt.

This muscle does not move the spine or pelvis, but helps with breathing andbreathingIt supports the spine and prevents back pain.Specifically, it helps facilitate the forced exhalation of air from the lungs, while stabilizing the spine and supporting the abdominal wall.

To activate the transverse abdominis, "focus on your exhalation, and at the end of the exhalation, engage your pelvic floor muscles and TVA," says Kristin McGee, yoga and meditation instructor. "When you hold your breath, try to stretch your back and the sides of your lower back," adds McGee, "and don't put too much pressure on the front of your abs."

Exercises that target the transverse abdominal muscles include the tummy tuck,birds dogs,dead bugs, holding the hollow body,planking, cleaners andpilates cem.

hip flexors

THEhip flexorsis a group of muscles that join the legs and trunk in a bending motion. They're not technically sit-ups, but they arefacilitate movementsduring various abdominal exercises. The muscles that make up the main hip flexors are:

  • psoas major
  • Iliakos
  • straight thigh
  • Psoas-Minore

Some ab exercises work the hip flexors more than the abdominal muscles. An example is the full sit-up exercise, especially when the legs are down. This movement primarily works the hip flexors.and can lead to arching of the lower back. This can increase your risk of back pain, especially if you have weak abdominal muscles. Therefore, full seating is not recommended.Beginner.

Another example of an ab exercise that works the hip flexors is any leg raise exercise performed in a supine (face up) position. Again, this move engages the hip flexors much more than the abs and should not be attempted unless you have good abdominal strength.

The hip flexors are strong and powerful muscles that can outperform the abdominal muscles in some ab exercises. To isolate the abdominal muscles, minimize the involvement of the hip flexors and maximize abdominal contraction.

Plan an effective abs workout

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the abs are and how they work, you can create exercises that really target these muscles. Choose five to ten exercises that combine these four elements. Perform 10 repetitions of each exercise and move on to the next. change youexercise routineevery two to three weeks.

Use good form for abdominal exercises

  • Tighten your abs and pull your belly button toward your spine with each contraction.
  • Move slowly and in a controlled manner.
  • Support your head if necessary, but don't pull your head back or tuck your chin into your chest.

bending of the spine

Spina flexion is a bending of the spine, such as when it bends forward or upward during a seizure. Although spinal flexion exercises can work the abdominals, they are not for everyone as they can cause tension and pain.Below are examples of spinal flexion exercises.

  • Basic Crispy
  • reverse judgment
  • Abs workout on an exercise ball
  • long arm
  • captain's chair


Core rotation exercises help strengthen your core and hip muscles. They mimic the natural movements you make throughout the day and help train the transverse plane, which is often overlooked.Here are exercises that use trunk rotation.

  • bike pity
  • Seated oblique twist with medicine ball


Stretches work your lower back and core muscles by arching your back or straightening your leg, or both. These exercises are great for relieving back pain and increasing stability.Here are examples of extension exercises.

  • Super house
  • rear extension
  • tracker dog


Stability exercises are exercises you perform in isometric contractions. They can help improve core stability and muscle endurance, especially if you're new to core training. To further train your core or build muscle, you need to incorporate additional weight exercises for your core. Below are examples of core stability exercises.

  • planking
  • side plank
  • reverse plank
  • Ponte

Isometric exercises (like the plank and bird dog) that focus on limiting trunk movement are great ab exercises. Another option is thePallof-Presse, a reverse movement that strengthens the core and increases stability.

To perform the move, use aBandor cable attached to a stable surface at trunk height. Stand far enough away from the band that there is tension when you hold the band in front of your sternum. When you face forward, the sheet adjusts to your side.

Extend the arms (and belt) fully in front of your chest, then bring them back close to your chest. Resisting the side pull, rotate the torso toward the lane anchor.

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