Abdominal Muscle Anatomy

You must understand abdominal muscle anatomy if you want a flawless set six pack abs. It turns out that your abs are made up of really of three basic muscles: your rectus abdominis, your obliques (internal and external) and your transverse abdominis.

Read on to learn where each is located, what each does, and what ab exercises target them to get your rock hard abs...

What Is the Abdominal Muscle Anatomy?

As I mentioned above, there are four muscles that make up your abdominal muscle anatomy. Let's take each one at a time, starting with the most well-known - the rectus abdominis...

Rectus Abdominis


Abdominal Muscle Anatomy: Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis is the muscle you most often think of when you think about six pack abs. It stretches from your pelvic bone to your chest. It has two parallel strips of muscle separated vertically in the middle by connective tissue (the linea alba – literally, "the white line").

Generally speaking, this muscle presents as what is commonly referred to as a "six pack" - three symmetrical ridges on both sides of the stomach. However, there are variations such as the "eight pack abs" (four symmetrical ridges on each side), and asymmetrical presentations of abs.

All of these configurations are functionally the same.


The rectus abdominis flexes your upper body, bringing your ribs toward your pelvis or vice versa, depending on the point of flexion.

Even though it is one muscle, you can effectively target either the upper or lower portion of the muscle by manipulating which part of your body remains fixed during an exercise.

When your pelvis is fixed, such as during abdominal crunches, you are targeting the upper portion of you abs. When your ribs are fixed, such as during reverse crunches, you are targeting your lower abs.


Some exercises that target the upper abs include various abdominal crunches such as:

  • Crunch - Hands on Chest
  • Crunch - Hands Behind Head
  • Angled Back-Extension Crunch
  • Exercise Ball Crunch
  • Tuck Crunch
  • More...


"To People Who Want To Burn Fat - But Can't Get Started"

FREE:Want to increase your fat burning?
Grab your complimentary subscription to Middle Management™ and get Ben's FatBurners 101™ videos now...

Module 1: Create a Concrete Plan with the 4 M's

Module 2: 4 Super Simple Ways to Stay Motivated

Module 3: Little Used Secret Burn More Fat 24-Hours Per Day

Module 4: 7 Easy Steps to Melting Fat Permanently

The subscription is FREE and only available through this offer.

Join below and receive your first lesson immediately without any delay.

Get Free Instant Access

Obliques (External and Internal)


Abdominal Muscle Anatomy: Obliques

The obliques are two muscles (external and internal) that run up your sides.

The external obliques run diagonally from your ribs toward your rectus abdominis. These muscles are the visible members of the abdominal muscle anatomy. As a result, they are the most often focused on when exercising.

The internal obliques are just underneath and run in the opposite direction from your rectus abdominis towards your hips. They are not visible when developed and are often neglected.


Together, the obliques help to rotate your body from side to side. They also allow for lateral flexation. That is, when one side is flexed, your body bends to that side. Conversely, when your body is bent to the side, the opposite oblique muscles assist to help you stand straight.

They also help contract and compress the abdomen when flexed.


To work you obliques, try these exercises:

  • Oblique Crunch
  • Broomstick Twist
  • Side Bend
  • Jackknife
  • Standing Medicine Ball Twist
  • More...

Transverse Abdominis


The transverse abdominis is located below the internal obliques. This makes it the deepest of the major abdominal muscles. The fibers run from side-to-side, as opposed to vertically, like the rectus abdominis, thus the name.


Abdominal Muscle Anatomy: Transverse Abdominis

The transverse abdominis performs an important function in the abdominal muscle anatomy. It acts as sort of a girdle or corset, since it's primary function is to hold your organs in place and provide core stability. It does this by pulling your abs (rectus abdominis) inward. To get a sense of what this muscle does, simply "suck in your stomach."

From an aesthetic prospective, strengthening the transverse abdominis gives you a slimmer waistline from that corset effect.


Plank and vacuum exercises work the transverse abdominis.
  • Weighted Plank
  • Standing Vacuum
  • Lying Vacuum
  • Kneeling Vacuum
  • Seated Vacuum
  • More...

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom VenutoBurn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

If you're interested in burning fat the natural way - without supplements, without drugs and without messing up your metabolism, then this will be the most important book you will ever read. Burn the Fat is the #1 best selling diet and fitness ebook in internet history, and for good reason. Tens of thousands of men and women in 135 countries have burned fat and gained muscle with these powerful, all-natural techniques... and you can too!

Click here for more information...

Working Your Abdominal Muscle Anatomy

This quick and easy ab workout plan uses one exercise to hit every group.

Complete Six Pack Abs Workout Plan
Exercise Sets Reps
Traditional Ab Crunch 3 20 - 25
Captain's Chair Leg Raise 3 20 - 25
Weighted Side Bend 3 20 - 25 (each side)
Standing Vacuum 3 10 - 12

Rest 1 to 1.5 minutes (that's 60 to 90 seconds) between each set, and 2 minutes (120 seconds) between each exercise.

Next Steps

By understanding how your abdominal muscle anatomy works will help you develop a well rounded, complete set of six pack abs.

What should you do next? Glad you asked!

  1.  Give the workout plan for working the total abdominal muscle anatomy a shot. Feel free to mix and match some of the exercises listed above, making sure you work each group of muscle (including the upper and lower abs).
  2. Click the "Like" button.

  3. Give us a +1.

  4. Tweet About It

  5. Let me know you're alive... Leave a comment below!

    New! Comments

Leave "Abdominal Muscle Anatomy" and Return Home

Check out this awesome beginner ab workout, visit our friends over at Free Ab Workout.

About Ben

How do you know you can trust the content on this site? Great question! Read a little more about me...