It is important to know the Abdomen anatomy, not only to know how to train your abs but also to protect your viscera. Many consider a flat stomach an aesthetic requirement , thus placing the abdominal muscles at the top of the list, since no other area gives the body that athletic appearance.
But the fundamental role of the abdominal muscles is, first of all, related to health and their functional aspect.
First, the abdominal muscles support and protect some of the most important organs in our body, such as:
- the stomach
- The liver
- the intestines.
Their function is to act as a natural anatomical belt that fixes the pelvis, stabilizes posture and supports the viscera.
These muscles also play an essential action in ensuring the bond between the torso and legs and intervene in the flexion and rotation of the spine.
Abdomen anatomy: learn to recognize your abs
The abdominal walls, which extend from the chest to the pelvis and close the abdominal cavity, are in their maximum thickness made up of the muscles of the abdomen.
These muscles are divided into anterolateral and posterior, that is, they occupy the anterior, lateral and posterior portions of the trunk.
Anterolateral muscles are represented by:
- rectus abdomen
- pyramidal muscle
- external oblique
- internal oblique
- transverse abdomen.
The posterior muscles are represented by:
- square of the loins
- great psoas
- small psoas
Abdomen anatomy: the rectus abdominis muscle
It originates from the 5th to the 6th costal cartilage and from the xiphoid process of the sternum. It is inserted at the bottom, at the level of the pelvis, in the pubic crest.
It is called equal muscle element , because there is a right portion and a left portion.
The rectums are separated only by the alba line (or midline), consisting of a thin band of connective tissue, which extends longitudinally from under the sternum to the bones of the pelvis.
Abdomen anatomy high and low abs they don’t exist
It is important to dispel the myth of the high and low abs .
Many people try to train them with different exercises, but the rectus of the abdomen is a single muscle , there are no exercises for high or low abdominals.
Some exercises can train the upper muscles more effectively and others the lower part of the rectus abdomen, but when you have a burning sensation during the exercises, it is only the recruitment of the fibers that are working.
Action of the rectus abdominal
The abdominal rectum has the task of lowering the ribs and flexing the chest on the pelvis: it is therefore an expirator and flexor of the chest.
Its contraction, with the increase of intra-abdominal pressure, favors urination , defecation , vomiting and facilitates childbirth .
Hence, it is he who can form the famous and highly coveted ” turtle “.
Abdomen anatomy: Pyramidal muscle
It is a small muscle, flattened and elongated, positioned immediately in front of the rectus abdomen.
It takes its name from its pyramidal shape.
Pyramidal muscle action
This muscle allows to stretch the alba line, a structure placed in the center of the rectus abdomen.
Abdomen anatomy: oblique abdominals
They are two: the internal oblique muscle and the external oblique muscle .
The external obliques are placed laterally to the rectus abdomen and are also visible on the surface. They originate from the external faces (surface) of the coasts, from the 5th to the 12th, which intertwine with the bundles of the large toothed muscle.
The direction of its fibers is from top to bottom and from back to front.
They also enter the pelvis, more specifically on the iliac crest.
The internal obliques are located below the external ones, originate from the bony prominences of the pelvis, the antero-superior iliac spines, and open like a fan.
Action of the obliques
They help to twist the torso and to flex the torso laterally.
It is often said that these two muscles must be worked to have a thin waist , but it is not true!
Abdomen anatomy: transverse muscle
The transverse muscle of the abdomen, so called for the transverse direction of its muscle bundles, is covered by the internal oblique muscle.
It extends from the spine to the alba line.
It originates from the last 6 rib cartilages, from the thoracolumbar fascia that covers the deep muscles of the back, from the iliac crest of the pelvis and from the inguinal ligament, running horizontally and going to insert into the abdominal aponeurosis, forming the posterior sheath of the rectus abdomen .
It starts from the back of the torso, where it attaches to all the vertebrae , and covers the whole abdomen horizontally.
By means of its bundles inserted on the ribs, they bring them closer to the midline, towards the center of the body, and thus contributes to narrowing the chest by promoting exhalation. It increases abdominal pressure and sends the diaphragm upwards, being its direct antagonist.
Its main function is to act on the abdominal viscera, participating in various actions, including:
- He retched
It also contracts during efforts such as:
- to lift
- to push.
When he works he does not move, he simply contracts on himself without moving other muscles .
Consequently, it is the transverse muscle that you need to work to have a thin waist
Abdomen anatomy: square muscle of the loins
The square of the loins is a flattened and quadrilateral muscle placed on the sides of the lumbar spine, between the iliac crest of the pelvis and the twelfth rib.
Its action is to stabilize the pelvic belt and the spine.
It is a muscle that is defined as “postural” due to its involvement in maintaining postural attitudes.
It also intervenes in the inclination of the vertebral column .
Abdomen anatomy: large psoas
It fits on the medial surface of the small trochanter of the femur.
It is the flexor muscle of the thigh.
Abdomen anatomy: Small psoas
It fits on the iliopubic eminence of the hip bone.
It stretches the iliac fascia and flexes the trunk, helps to tilt the lumbar spine laterally, also stretches the lata fascia (muscle located in the antero-lateral region of the thigh).
Abdomen anatomy: iliac muscle
It fits on the lower surface of the small trochanter of the femur.
Participate in trunk flexion in addition to flexing the thigh on the pelvis.
Abdomen anatomy: what is the abdominal core
The core is a set of muscles all related to each other, which form the center of gravity of the body .
It is the muscular corset of the body , it is the point where the movement starts.
For this, having the core trained is equivalent to having a strong and resistant body , which moves easily.
What are the core muscles
The muscles that make up the core are the deep muscles that protect and support the spine :
- rectus abdomen
- square of the loins
- large buttock
- middle gluteus.
Because it is important to have a trained core
A trained core means:
- Flat stomach
- open chest
- correct physiological curves : cervical, dorsal and lumbar
- reduced implementation of dysfunctional postural attitudes
- good functioning of internal organs
- possibility of making explosive efforts , involving energy and power all over the body
- excellent balance
- ability to move quickly and easily.
The consequences of a weak core
If your core is not trained, the first to suffer is the spine, which may take non-physiological positions.
The hypotonia of the abdominal muscles , which help support the lumbar spine, may result in a non-physiological accentuation of the lumbar curve , logical premise of future back pain.
Weak abdominal muscles: the consequences
Abdominally trained abdominal muscles could cause weakness of the abdominal wall, a predisposing factor for the formation of abdominal hernias (the escape of a bowel or part of it).
An excessive weakening of the abdominal wall could also trigger a malfunction of the digestive system .
In particular, the intestine may become “sluggish”: constipation problems may arise and an unpleasant sensation of swelling in the abdomen is often felt.
Furthermore, the weakness of these structures could in some cases favor the formation of an abdominal diastasis .
Abdomen anatomy: What is abdominal diastasis
Abdominal diastasis consists in a removal of the muscle surfaces of the right and left portion of the rectus abdominal muscle, which widen excessively moving away from the midline.
There are various causes: the first is pregnancy, for its ability to determine a rapid and important increase in the abdominal volume that relaxes the rectus muscle in an important way.
How to properly train your abs
The type of training for the abdominals is a long-debated issue, which must however be related to the subject’s posture.
Each abdominal exercise must be thought taking into account the postural attitudes already present in the person.
A tonic and hypertrophic abdomen will bring the pelvis in retroversion, flattening the lumbar lordosis.
Hypotonic abdominal muscles, on the other hand, will be muscles that will not be able to control the pelvis, which will rotate anteriorly, therefore in anteversion, pulled by the hip flexors which will shorten more and more, also bringing back problems (low back pain ).
There will therefore be an increase in hyperlordosis and consequent compensation such as hyperkyphosis.
Abdominal exercises: recommendations
The proposed exercises must take into account postural alterations, in particular pelvis rotations , analyzing the curves of the spine (vertebral column).
In addition, the breathing that must be performed while performing these exercises is of fundamental importance .
The abdominal muscles are muscles that participate in breathing, especially during the exhalation phase, therefore they can be defined as “expiratory muscles”.
During the abdominal contraction, it is important never to retain the air but you must carry out a long and deep exhalation throughout the contraction phase and then recover (inhale) during the return phase (relaxation).
5 effective exercises to tone the abdominal wall
1- Crunch on fitball
Departure in hyperextension position of the torso (shoulders and back on the fitball with the support of the legs only. Keep the position of the pelvis stable and flex the torso upwards respecting the angle of 30 °.
Exhale for a long time throughout the forward crunch. Inhale in the return phase.
When you perform the crunch , it is important that you stop at a 30 ° flexion of the trunk because, going beyond this limit, you go mainly to recruit the hip flexors, thus losing the greater stress of the abdominal muscles.
The advice is to perform the exercise on a fitball starting from a position of hyperextension of the trunk and stopping at 30 ° degrees of flexion.
Keep your pelvis position stable and only flex your chest upward.
By adding the instability given by the ball , you also train muscle proprioception and core stability.
Recommended series: 3 x 15 with 30 seconds of recovery between series.
2 – Reverse crunch
Reverse crunch is an exercise that works the rectus abdomen .
In the execution phase of the exercise, the quadriceps are also stressed as secondary muscles.
Lying with your back to the floor (supine decubitus), legs bent and raised at an angle of 90 ° thighs-torso, arms stretched out with the palms of the hands on the floor.
Bring your knees towards your shoulders by lifting the lower back (lower back) from the floor and slowly return to the initial position, controlling your descent.
Breathe in when your back is flat on the floor, breathe out during movement.
Avoid starting the momentum movement with the legs and closing the thighs on the torso: the initial angle must remain throughout the execution.
Do not arch your back during the return phase.
Recommended series : 3 x 15 with 30 seconds of recovery between series.
3 – Oblique crunches
It is an exercise that involves the rectum and the oblique abdomens.
Back to the ground and legs that form a 90 ° angle legs-bust, hands behind the head.
Contracting the belly, rise with the shoulders, bring the elbow towards the opposite knee and return to the floor. After the repetitions, change sides.
Inhale when your back is on the floor , exhale on the way up.
Recommended for beginners and those with back problems
Positioning the legs on a bench or chair prevents the arching of the back, thus isolating only the abdominal muscles.
Easy exercise suitable for everyone, it is recommended for beginners and those with back problems.
Recommended series : 3 x 15 right + left with 20 seconds of recovery between sets.
4 – Plank on fitball
It is an exercise that mainly affects the core muscles .
It is performed by placing the forearms on the fitball and keeping the elbows in line with the shoulders, resting only the tip of the feet on the ground.
Take a plank position by keeping a straight line from head to toe, stabilizing and supporting the body’s muscles in a static position in the best possible way, avoiding any movement (isometric contraction).
You will need to properly support your back through the contraction and control of the core muscles (core stability). Breathing in this type of exercise is continuous.
Avoid free diving, bend your knees, arch your back or lift / rotate your pelvis.
Recommended series : 3 x 60 ”with 30 seconds of recovery between series.
5 – Side plank
It is a particularly effective exercise for slimming the hips .
Lie on one side of the body (lateral decubitus), with the legs straight (one above the other) and the forearm perpendicular to the body.
The head must be well aligned with the axis of the spine, looking forward.
By contracting your abs, slowly lift yourself up to balance on your feet, elbow and forearm, keeping your side and abdomen taut without arching your back, avoiding any movement (core stability).
Breathing throughout the exercise phase must be continuous.
Recommended series : 3 x 40 “right side + 40” left side with a recovery between the 20 “series.
6 – Russian twist
Start sitting on the ground resting on your buttocks. Inhale and, exhaling, bend your knees and lift your legs off the ground.
From this position, keep your torso at about 45 ° from the ground without ever losing the corner.
The execution of the exercise consists in performing torsions of the torso left and right quickly, keeping the back straight and the arms with the elbows slightly bent, without moving the legs.
Cross your hands together to make a fist. During the whole execution it is important to keep the abdomen contracted, bringing the belly inward.
The exercise can also be performed with an overload , holding a dumbbell in your hands, a medicine ball or a 4 or 6 kg kettlebell .
The mistakes to avoid in the Russian twist: touch the ground with your feet, move your pelvis and legs and lose the angle between your torso and the floor.
Recommended series : 3 x 30 ″ with a recovery of 30 ″ between the series.
External Link: Abdomen