HomeHealth articlesabdominal muscle sprainWhat Is the Anatomy of Abdominal Muscles?

The abdominal muscles allow movement, support the trunk, and hold organs in place. This article explains its anatomy and functions.

Medically reviewed by

Mohammed Wajid

Published At November 9, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 29, 2023

What Is the Anatomy of Abdominal Muscles?

If you work out, you may be seeking the finest abdominal exercise regimen for developing flat, tight abs. Every year, dozens of new abdominal workouts, fitness classes, devices, gadgets, and routines claim to sculpt and strengthen the muscles. It is critical to understand the function of your abdominal muscles in order to avoid falling prey to unsubstantiated, deceptive, or dangerous abdominal exercise claims. This includes understanding where each muscle is located, what they do, and how they can be exercised safely.

The four main abdominal muscles that combine to completely cover the internal organs include:

Transversus Abdominis – It is the deepest layer of muscle. Its primary functions are to support the trunk and to keep internal abdominal pressure constant. The transversus abdominis, or TVA, is the lowest layer of abdominal muscles. The TVA muscle wraps around the body from the back to the ribs to the pelvis. It has horizontal muscle fibers, akin to a corset or a weight belt. Although this muscle does not move the spine or pelvis, it aids in breathing and respiration. It specifically aids the forceful exhalation of air from the lungs while supporting the abdominal wall and stabilizing the spine. Focus on breathing and contracting the pelvic floor muscles and TVA at the very end of the exhale to engage your transversus abdominis.

Rectus Abdominis – It is draped across the front of the pelvis between the ribs and the pubic bone. This muscle has the characteristic bulges or bumps that are usually referred to as the six-pack when it contracts. The rectus abdominal major job is to shift the body between the ribcage and the pelvis. The rectus abdominis is the most well-known and prominent abdominal muscle. The long, flat muscle between the pubis and the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs runs vertically. The rectus abdominis attaches to the xiphoid process, a bony landmark near the sternum's bottom.

The rectus abdominis is divided along the center by a strong, tendinous sheath known as the linea alba or white line. In exceptionally fit athletes, three extra horizontal tendinous sheaths give the muscle its recognizable six-pack look. The rectus abdominis aids spinal flexion by decreasing the gap between the pelvis and the ribs. It is also active during side bending motions and aids in the stabilization of the trunk during extremity and head movements.

External Oblique Muscles – Each side of the rectus abdominis has these muscles. The trunk can twist to the opposite side of whichever external oblique is contracting. The external obliques' muscle fibers create the letter V as they flow diagonally downward and inward from the lower ribs to the pelvis. Putting your hands in your coat pockets will help you find them. The external obliques go from the fifth to the twelfth ribs, inserting into the iliac crest, inguinal ligament, and rectus abdominis linea alba. They enable spine flexion, torso rotation, sideways bending, and abdominal compression.

Internal Oblique Muscles – These are placed immediately inside the hip bones and flank. In contrast to the external oblique muscles, they work in the opposite direction. The internal obliques are a pair of deep muscles located beneath the external obliques. The internal and external obliques are perpendicular to one another. The internal and external obliques are known as opposite-side rotators because of their peculiar alignment (at right angles to each other). The external oblique on the left rotates the trunk and spine to the right, while the internal oblique on the left rotates the trunk and spine to the left.

What Are the Functions of the Abdominal Muscles?

The functions of the abdominal muscles are:

  • We correct posture because they keep the body upright in our daily lives and during our workouts. This will assist us in avoiding back pain and potential injury.

  • They aid in movement coordination - When we wish to do a movement, the abdominals assist us in coordinating the brain, marrow, and the entire body.

  • They enable us to bend and rotate; the internal oblique abdominals are responsible for this action. When we bend and rotate, however, we will do so to the same side; for instance, if we contract the left internal oblique, we will rotate to the left.

  • The lateral transverse muscle connects the abdominal framework, holds the internal organs in place, compacts the weight of the stomach, and helps to balance the spine.

  • They assist us in compensating the body: for lower back discomfort, which is caused by a lack of abdominal muscle tone in the majority of cases. There is an imbalance because the back is overly toned as a result of particular activities, making it stronger both directly and indirectly. The abdomen, on the other hand, is not as strong. As a result, we must strengthen the abdomen in order to correct this imbalance. We will observe how lower back pain is alleviated if we accomplish it.

  • Stabilize the trunk - The trunk is involved in almost all of the workouts we conduct. This permits it to get stronger and develop a healthy muscle tone, which will aid us in securely transferring strength, avoiding injuries, and doing so more effectively.

  • They are involved in respiration because their role is to descend the ribs as we exhale.

  • They assist in freeing the back- If we have strong abdominals, they will assist us in unloading the back so that it does not have to hold the entire weight on its own. When we sneeze, give birth, or go to the restroom, they spread the weight as well.

How to Design an Effective Abdominal Muscles Workout?

After having a basic understanding of what the abdominal muscles are and how they function, it is simple to create exercises that especially target them. Pick five to ten exercises that include all four aspects. After completing ten reps of each exercise, move on to the next one. Change up your workout routine every two to three weeks.

Spinal Flexion:

  • Basic crunch.

  • Reverse crunch.

  • Ab crunch on an exercise ball.

  • Long arm crunch.

  • Captain's chair.


  • Bicycle crunch.

  • The seated oblique twist with an exercise ball.


  • Superman.

  • Back extension.

  • Bird-dog.


  • Plank.

  • Side plank.

  • Reverse plank.

  • Bridge.

Isometric exercises that focus on minimizing trunk movements, such as the plank and the bird-dog, are also excellent abdominal exercises. The pall of the press, an anti-rotation movement that strengthens the core, is another option.

What Is the Main Difference between Abs and Core?

Abs and core are not the same things, despite popular misconceptions. The abs, or abdominal muscles, are the muscles on the outside of the body. These are the ones that, when exercised hard enough, will give you that much-desired six-pack. Your core, on the other hand, is far more complicated. It comprises your abdominal muscles, but it also reaches the pelvis and diaphragm, as well as your back and hips. That is, a strong core can exist without a six-pack, and vice versa. You will not only look fantastic, but your entire gym and sports performance will improve as well if you strengthen your core muscles. It will also relieve your back discomfort and protect you against injuries, improving your everyday life.


Abdominal muscles are an important part of sports performance and a well-balanced training program. The main muscle group in the core, or midsection of the body, is the abdominal muscles. In all sports and other athletic activities, abdominal muscles support the upper and lower body, boosting muscle control in running, twisting, and turning motions. It also aids in proper breathing, trunk stability, back muscular support, and upper and lower body stabilization. Athletes improve their abdominal muscles to help them perform better and avoid injury. To obtain all of the benefits of abdominal exercises, talk to your physiotherapist about integrating them into your training program.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Important Abdominal Muscles?

Abdominal muscles comprise a set of strong muscles that line the abdominal wall. The main abdominal muscles are listed below:
- External obliques.
- Internal obliques.
- Pyramidalis.
- Rectus abdominis.
- Transversus abdominis.


What Are the Important Functions of the Abdomen?

The abdomen is a crucial organ of the body that comprises organs whose primary functions are digestion, breathing, maintenance of posture, and movement. Mainly, the organs located in the abdomen are concerned with digestion. In addition, the abdomen is also required for respiration with the help of the accessory muscles of respiration.


What Is One of the Best Exercises for Abdominal Muscles?

Several exercises can be done to improve the strength of the abdominal muscles. However, abdominal crunches, bicycle maneuvers, or bicycle crunches are the best exercises to improve core or abdominal strength.


How Many Times Should Abdominal Exercises Be Done?

The abdominal muscles are like the other body muscles and need rest after a specific period. Therefore, abdominal exercises must be done twice a week after workouts. However, one thing must be kept in mind: if the person is already exercising three times a week, he must do the abdominal exercises only once or twice to prevent strain.


What Daily Activities Make Use of Abdominal Muscles?

Suppose a person is busy and needs more time to include abdominal exercise in his daily workout routine. In that case, he might engage in physical activities involving the abdominal muscles. For example, some daily activities like walking, washing dishes, mopping, gardening, and vacuuming engage the abdominal muscles.


What Are the Best Exercises for Abdominal Muscles at Home?

A person must go outside and work on the abdominal muscles.
The following exercises can be easily done at home:
- Bicycle crunch.
- Side hip bridge.
- Reverse crunch.
- Seated rotation.
- Birddog.
- Extended arm plank.
- Plank to toe touch.
- Hollow hold.


What Is the Major Function of the Transversus Abdominis?

The transversus abdominis is the deepest of all the major abdominal muscles. The main role of the muscles is to protect the internal organs from getting damaged and maintain the tension in the abdominal wall and support the torso. In addition, it stabilizes the spin, and the ribs before any movement of the hands or legs occurs.


Which Exercise Can Be Done for the Transversus Abdominis Muscle?

It is important to do exercises that engage the transverse abdominis muscle to have a strong core and reduced back pain. The following exercises work on the transverse abdominis muscle:
- Hollow body hold.
- Dead bug.
- Toe taps.
- Bird-dog.
- Plank.


What Exercises Help Engage the Rectus Abdominis Muscle?

The rectus abdominis muscle comprises the superficial or top layer of the abdominal muscles. The following exercises can be done to engage the rectus abdominis muscle:
- Forearm plank.
- Reverse Crunches.
- Scissor flutter kicks.
- Toe taps.


What Is the Important Function of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle?

The rectus abdominis muscle is between the ribs and the pubic bone in front of the pelvis. The major function of the muscle is to support and move the body between the pelvis and the ribcage. This muscle is also used when the child is being delivered.


Where Is the Rectus Abdominis Muscle Exactly Located in the Body?

The rectus abdominis muscle is present in front of the body. It originates from the pubic bone and ends at the sternum. Hence, it is mainly located inside the abdominal region. It gets activated while doing crunches. The muscle creates the look of a “six-pack” when exposed after removing fat.


Who Treats Abdominal Muscle Strain?

Athletes and people involved in sports tend to injure their abdominal muscles and experience muscle pull or strain. A doctor specializing in sports medicine or orthopedics can treat such muscle strain. However, if the person experiences abdominal pain due to other causes, he might consult a gastroenterologist.
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Dr. Muthu Laakshmi. G
Dr. Muthu Laakshmi. G


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