How many stomach muscles are there?
If you don’t know, you probably aren’t getting the most out of your stomach workout. I base this on a simple principle if you don’t know what and where a muscle is how can you exercise it? This principle doesn’t even include what a muscle does.
There are four dominant stomach muscles: the Rectus Abdominus, the Internal Oblique, the External Oblique, and the Transverse Abdominus stomach muscles. Some people include the Hip Flexer but that is actually a support muscle to the stomach.
Of the four muscles, the “Red-headed stepchild” is the Transverse Abdominus and gets almost no dialog time in most exercise classes so I’m going to start with it.
The Transverse Abdominus muscle is normally not much discussed, it is between the ribs and the hips. Currently, there are, in my opinion not very successful, “stomach reducing” strap that are eight to twelve inches in width and about two and a half feet in length. They are made of rubber and wrapped around your entire mid-section. The way that they are supposed to work is by causing the person wearing it to sweat profusely from the area being wrapped and thus lose weight. (Actually, the only way that you can, scientifically, lose weight from any area of the body is to burn calories. You can lose water weight with sweat but that weight is reintroduced to the body as soon as you drink fluids so it doesn’t count in a professional weight loss program. But I digress.) The Transverse abdominis muscle looks like the weight loss strap.
The fibers of the Transverse Abdominis muscle run horizontal and provide posture support and strength to the body's core. Additionally, the Transverse Abdominus muscle help support the organs in the core of the body.
Because of the design of the muscle, a concentrated workout that zeroes in on them will help burn “Love Handles”.
Rectus Abdominus :
Personally, I like the name of this muscle because it reminds me of a dinosaur. The Rectus Abdominus muscle, when they are in shape, Transverse commonly called a “Six Pack”. The Rectus Abdominus is located in the front of the body between the pubic bone and the sternum. This muscle is used when lifting heavy objects, giving childbirth, doing a bowel movement and coughing. Strengthen this muscle also improves athletics that requires jumping.
Exercising these muscles will get rid of sagging fat that hangs over belts.
The Internal Oblique Muscle
The Internal Oblique muscle is a muscle that is found at each side of the body, just lateral to the abdomen. The word “Oblique” means “diagonal” or “Slanted”, which is a reference to the slanted direction that the muscle fibers of this muscle run up the sides of the body.
Here are some actions that muscle supports:
Flexion of the trunk: Bending the trunk forward, such as when you bend over to pick something off the floor
Lateral rotation of the trunk: Turning the trunk to either side, such as when you turn around to look at someone behind you.
Lateral flexion of the trunk: Bending the trunk to either side, such as when you perform side bends.
Additionally, the internal oblique assists with forced exhalation, such as when you blow out birthday candles.
The External Oblique Muscles:
The external Oblique muscle is one of the outermost abdominal muscles, extending from the lower half of the ribs around and down to the pelvis. The external oblique muscles cover the sides of the abdominal area. Not only do these muscles help rotate the trunk they also help pull the chest, as a whole, downward, which compresses the abdominal cavity. The external oblique muscles also support the rotation of the spine.
Now that you know how many stomach muscles there are and what they do let’s discuss how to exercise them.
In my upcoming articles, I will be prescribing a series of stomach exercises to maximize the strength and tone of each muscle.