When you think of your abs you probably just think of that elusive 6-pack, but in truth it is so much more than that. Your core is an intricate set of muscles that extends to and impacts on almost every part of your body. Here are the main muscle groups that make up your core:
The rectus abdominis (often referred to as the 6-pack) is a flat slab of muscle which extends from the pelvis to the sternum. It is made up of thin bands of connective tissue, which is what gives it the rippled 6-pack appearance. It has three core functions, to flex your trunk, provide abdominal pressure and stabilize your pelvis.
Your external obliques begin at your lower 8 ribs and run diagonally to the midsection of your body along the pelvis and at the pubic area. They are responsible for laterally flexing your trunk and help the rectus abdominis to compress the abdomen.
This muscle group has the same function as the external obliques, just from a different position. The internal obliques run underneath your external obliques from the hip bone to the lower ribs, and they also assist with flexing the trunk and compressing the abdomen.
This is your deepest layer of core muscle and is sometimes referred to as the transversus. It is nestled beneath the internal obliques and wraps around the entire abdominal area. Originating in the lower ribs, it wraps around and attaches to the linea alba, compressing the abdomen.
Almost no other functional movement or muscle group in the body can operate at it’s full potential without a strong and stable core, which is so much more than the single sheet of muscle that is the 6-pack.
So next time you are in the gym, forget about the crunches or the isolated ab machine and focus on some of the big, total body exercises that will activate and strengthen your entire core (including your back muscles!).
Some great examples include exercises like:
- Front Plank
- Side Plank