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ABS 101: What You Need to Know

ABS 101: What You Need to Know

ABS 101: What You Need to Know

When you think of a perfect body, most of us picture 6-pack abs. Almost everyone is crazy to get a toned and sculpted stomach that we devote most of our time in exercises that target the abdominal muscles. Before you can achieve amazing abs that will get you cast alongside Gerard Butler in 300, it’s important that you understand what abdominal muscles are.

Abdominal muscles, or popularly known as the “abs”, are a large group of muscles that form the anterior and lateral abdominal wall. It plays a huge role in supporting the muscles of the spine, assisting in regular breathing movement, and keeping the abdominal organs in place.

The Anatomy of Your Abdominal Muscles

anatomy of abs

You go to the gym to get a sculpted abs. You try new products, fitness classes and routines for the hopes of getting a strong and sculpted abdominal muscle. All of these efforts would be less effective if you don’t have a single clue about abdominal muscles.

You may think that abs are just part of one large muscle.

In actuality, abdominal muscle is composed of 4 separate muscles that act together to form a firm wall.

Rectus Abdominis

This is the actual muscle that people are generally referring to as a “six-pack”.

The rectus abdominis is made up of 8 distinct muscle bellies and is located between the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis and ribs. Its primary role is to flex the spinal column. It also plays a huge role in maintaining a good posture. It also creates intra-abdominal pressure to protect your internal organs and helps with breathing regulation.

When you have a low level of body fat, the rectus abdominis becomes visible when your muscle contracts. When they are well-developed, you have that “six-pack” or “washboard” look.

The External Obliques

The largest among the four abdominal muscles is the external abdominal oblique muscle. These broad and thin muscles are located on each side of the rectus abdominis. Its muscle fibers form a letter V as they run diagonally downward and inward from the lower ribs to the pelvis. To locate these muscles, simply put your hands in your coat pocket.

Aside from helping rotate the trunk, the external obliques play several important functions. They also help with the compression of the abdomen, rotation of the torso, and flexion of the spine.

Internal Obliques

This pair of deep muscles are located beneath the external abdominal oblique. Originating from the lumbar fascia, this muscle extends to the outer portion of the inguinal ligament up to the back of the iliac crest. It ends at the rib cage’s bottom edge, pubic crest, and the rectus sheath.

The role of this muscle includes rotating and turning the trunk with the aid of other muscles, helping in raising pressure in the abdominal area, assisting in forced respiration, and supporting the abdominal wall.

The internal and external obliques are referred to as “opposite-side rotators” because they are uniquely aligned at right angles to each other. The left internal oblique works with the right external oblique, and vice versa, when rotating and flexing the torso.

Transverse Abdominus

This muscle is the deepest amongst the 4 abdominal muscles. It extends between the hips and the ribs and wraps around the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis. This thin sheet of muscles have fibers that are running horizontally, just like a weight belt or a corset.

Transverse abdominal muscle supports the organs located in the abdominal wall and helps stabilize the trunk. It also helps with breathing and respiration by compressing the abdominal organs and increasing lung pressure.

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Why Is It Important to Have a Strong Abs?

Sure, who does not want six-pack abs?

But there’s more to abdominal strength than good looks. Having strong and healthy abdominal muscles has many benefits when it comes to sports performance, daily function and overall physical health.

Below are the reasons why you should work hard to have a strong abdominal muscle.

Increased Functional Strength

Increased Functional Strength

Simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking up a dropped object can be hard if you don’t have a strong core. Strength of your core is required for functional actions like climbing up or down, lifting, and twisting. Building endurance and strength for your abdominal muscles make this common chores easier.

Increased Metabolism and Energy

Increased Metabolism and Energy

People who have higher metabolism can burn more calories even when they are resting. The stronger your abdominal muscles are, the higher your metabolism is. Aside from weight loss, strengthening your core can also improve your energy. This increased amount of energy can sustain you on your long intensity workouts. Lifting weights become easier if you keep your core strong.

Better Posture

Slouching comes naturally when you have weak abdominal muscles since you don’t have enough musculature to support correct alignment. Having strong abdominal muscles promotes good posture by supporting your spine so it feels natural to stand or sit with proper alignment.

Reduced Back Pain

Reduced Back Pain

Your abdominal muscles provide support to your mid and lower back. Your back muscles are forced to work harder if you have weak abs to support your middle. This extra strain can cause back pain.

Having strong abs lessens your vulnerability to injury or strain since your back muscles now have better endurance.

Improved Balance

Improved Balance

Having a good balance does not just mean being able to walk on a tightrope or stand on one leg. It comes into play every day, from catching yourself, falling when you took a misstep to walking on a rough surface.

Having resilient and strong abdominal muscles improves your balance and makes these activities less disastrous and more pleasant.

Improved Sports Performance

Improved Sports Performance

All sports utilize your midsection for action and stabilization. Sports movements require abdominal muscle strength. A strong core does not just give you control of your movement but it also supports healing and recovery.

Strong abs also help us:

Improve Breathing Efficiency

Strong abdominal muscles contribute to better control over breathing, which is particularly beneficial for athletes and singers. The ability to regulate your breath more effectively can improve endurance and performance in various physical activities.

Prevent Injury

A strong core helps in maintaining proper body alignment and posture, reducing the risk of injuries related to muscle strains and joint issues. It also stabilizes the spine, preventing lower back injuries.

Improve Digestion

The muscles of the core play a role in the functioning of the digestive system. Strong abs can help digestion by promoting better intestinal motility and reducing issues like bloating and constipation.

Enhance Circulation

Core exercises can improve blood circulation, which helps in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs. Better circulation can enhance overall health and aid in quicker recovery post-exercise.

Better Stability and Coordination

Core strength improves overall body stability and coordination, essential for performing complex movements in sports and daily activities. This can lead to better performance and reduced risk of falls and accidents.

Reduce Stress Levels

Engaging in exercises that strengthen your core can also provide mental benefits. It can reduce stress levels, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being by promoting a sense of physical confidence and control.

Abdominal muscles play a huge role in our health. Next time you go to the gym, don’t just think of achieving six-pack abs and sport a perfect beach body. You should have a more defined goal. Work on your abdominal muscles for a healthier version of yourself.


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Barroso, M.(n.d.). 5 Everyday Benefits of Stronger Abs. Retrieved from
HBN INDIA. (2017). Benefits Of Stronger Abs.

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