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What specific muscles are the abdominal muscles made up of?

Sadie Lincoln
Sadie Lincoln on behalf of barre3
Fitness
The deepest abdominal muscle, and running across your belly, side to side is the transverse abdominis. The transverse abs work like a corset to help support the low back. Internal obliques run diagonally from the front pelvis and hip up to the lower ribs. The external obliques run diagonally the other way, from the outer, side ribs to the center of the pelvis. Both layers of obliques define your waistline. The top layer, the rectus abdominus, is a long muscle running up and down from ribs to pelvis. The rectus abdominis is the “six-pack” muscle, just under the thick skin of the belly.
The abdominal muscles include the rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, and transverse abdominis. These muscles work together to allow the body to bend forward, backward, side to side, and twist.

This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.
Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy

Abdominal muscles are trunk muscles that help to rotate and flex the spine. The abdominal muscles are composed of:

  • Rectus abdominus: originates at the pelvis and inserts into the sternum as well as ribs 5-7. This muscle flexes the spine or assists in posteriorly (behind or in back of) tilting the pelvis.
  • External obliques: one of the abdominal muscles responsible for rotation and flexion (position that is flexed relative to neutral or extension) of the spine. Developing external oblique strength is important for spinal stabilization against movement faults.
  • Internal obliques: one of the abdominal muscles responsible for rotation and flexion of the spine. Developing internal oblique strength is important for spinal stabilization against movement faults.
  • Transversus abdominus: an important spinal-stabilizing muscle
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.