There are six different abdominal muscles of the anterior abdominal wall;
The rectus abdominus, two external oblique muscles on each side, two internal oblique muscles on each side and the transverse abdominus muscle.
These muscles extend from various places on the ribs to various places on the pelvis and provide movement and support to the trunk.
The rectus abdominus is the muscle that is generally referred to as a “six pack”. Although many refer to this as the lower ab and upper ab it is actually one long muscle.
It is located between the ribs and the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis. The main purpose of this muscle is to move the body between the rib cage and the pelvis.
There are 2 external oblique muscles located on each side of the rectus abdominus. These muscles allow your body to twist, but to the opposite side of whichever muscle is contracting. So, to twist to the left, you are contracting the right external oblique muscle.
There are also 2 internal oblique muscles located just inside the hip bones. These muscles are also used to aid in twisting the body, however, they work opposite of the external obliques.
For instance, to turn the body to the right, you would be contracting the right internal oblique muscle but the left external oblique muscle.
This is the deepest muscle layer and it’s main role is to stabilize the trunk and to maintain abdominal pressure. This is the most overlooked abdominal muscle when people are doing ab exercises. It is one of the most critical muscles as it helps to strengthen the core and reduce or minimize lower back pain.
Now that you have the right understanding of your ab muscles and the muscles anatomy, you will want to create an exercise routine that will work all of these muscles. Some common abdominal exercises are the best to start with.
Go to the abdominal exercises page for a list and links of some common ab exercises. The list is by stomach muscle group.
If you are not sure what exercises to include to work all your ab muscles the best thing would be to purchase a workout DVD that has ab exercises as they will generally include all the muscles.
Here's an article on a study of common abdominal exercises and their effectiveness on the abdominal muscles.
Get lean muscle mass through strength training. Gaining lean muscles can help boost your metabolism to burn more calories.
After a good workout, make sure to stretch those muscles. Stretching is often skipped by many when they workout. Don't skip this important workout.
What's your exercise personality? Check out this article to find out.