Stomach Muscles

(Abs, Abdominals)

Stomach MusclesStomach Muscles

User's Manual
Stomach Exercises
Stomach Stretches
Amazing Facts
Related Links

A wall, consisting of 3 layers of muscle on the sides of the torso, and one layer of muscle in the anterior center of the torso. The muscle layers are...

  • Rectus abdominis
    Visible as a "six pack"
    Bends the upper body toward the leg
  • External oblique
    Twists the torso and bends the upper body toward the legs
  • Internal oblique
    Twist the torso and bend the upper body toward the legs
  • Transversus abdominis

All layers of the abdominal muscles support and protect the abdominal contents, and aid breathing by compressing the abdominal cavity during exhalation (blowing air). The boarders of the 6-pack are formed by tendinous intersections, where tendons connected to all layers of the abdominal muscles converge.

Superior attachments

  • Ribs
  • Lower sternum

Inferior attachments

  • Pelvis

User's Manual

Routine exercise is a must for everyone in order to make their bodies resistant to injury.

When exercising...

  • Warm up with an exercise that breaks a slight sweat, raises the body temperature and makes muscles more flexible and responsive to stretching. Your exercise should work all the muscles you intend to use during your workout so for weight training use a cardio machine that requires force from the legs and arms. If one isn't available try jogging to target your legs, and pushups and pull-ups assisted by a bench to target your arm back and chest muscles.
  • Stretch every muscle you warmed up. Each stretch should be done twice and held for at least 30 seconds each. Never bounce when you stretch (it accomplishes nothing). (see stretching)

Be smart. If you're starting an exercise program you need to ease into it. Most people feel absolutely great the first day of a weight lifting program, so it's easy to strain your muscles without noticing it, until the following day when you're crying for your mommy. The first few weeks you should be very conservative on the weights no matter how many cute girls are watching. If you're starting to run, do not bust out 5 miles the first day because you feel terrific. Running uses a lot more muscles than you think. If you are in fairly good shape try the following "easing in" program...

  • Week 1: 1 mile 3 days a week
  • Week 2: 1.5 miles 3 days a week
  • Week 3: 2 miles 3 days a week
  • Week 4: 2.5 miles 3 days a week
  • Week 5: 3 miles 3 days a week

If you're joining a running club or cross country or track team, take several weeks prior to the first day of practice to run 3 days a week, while steadily and conservatively building up the distance you can comfortably run.

If you ever feel a pain during lifting, even if it's slight, stop the exercise immediately and avoid exercises using that muscle until the pain is completely gone. Mild injuries can become disabling without early rest or treatment.

For muscle soreness heat the area to loosen the muscle, stretch to prevent tightness, then fill a resealable storage bag with a mixture of ice and water and apply it to the area to reduce swelling.

For muscle pulls, when muscle fibers are stretched beyond their limit give yourself a few days of rest. For those sports requiring fast running and acceleration using the legs such as running, basketball and soccer muscle pulls typically occur in the hamstrings and calves. For those sports with rotational movements like golf, softball, baseball, swimming and tennis, pulls generally occur in the back neck and shoulders.

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Stomach Exercises

Main target: abdominals (stomach muscles).

Down the center:
Rectus abdominis
Usually referred to as upper, mid and lower abs

On the side:
External oblique
Internal oblique
Transversus abdominis
Obliques are named because of the slanted (or oblique) angle of their muscle fibers

These exercises can seem like a pain in the ass, until your abs become stronger. Then you might just become addicted.

Repetitions: 15 to 20 repetitions at a time with rest in between. Do as many sets as you can do with good form, possibly 4. You might try a few reps completing half the motion at the end of a set when you can no longer complete the full motion. Once again, these are all toning exercises and require high repetition. The abdominal muscles do not need a day of rest between workouts. You can perform these exercises daily to achieve the best toning results. Practice healthy nutrition by avoiding fatty high calorie foods and do regular aerobic exercise if you want your abs to become ripped.

There are a million and one different exercises for your abdominals so you should never get bored. Concentrate on the technique and area of the abs that you're working on. Do not rest in between repetitions.

Good Ol' Fashion Crunches
Main Target: upper abs.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bend at your knees.
  • Place your arms across your chest or clasp hands behind your neck.
  • Slowly raise your shoulders toward your knees during a two-count, keeping your lower back firmly against the ground.
  • Count to two again as you lower your shoulders back to the ground under control.
  • Never pull with your hands behind your neck. This forces your neck vertebrae into a bad position. They should simply rest behind your neck to add weight to your upper body.
  • Keep your lower back firmly against the ground to avoid using your back and concentrate the tension within the abdominals.
  • During the exercise, focus on the contraction of the abdominal muscles.


Decline Crunches
Main Target: upper abs and back.

  • Lie back on a decline bench, knees bent and feet locked behind ankle pads.
  • Place your arms across your chest or clasp hands behind your neck.
  • Slowly raise your shoulders toward your knees.
  • Lower your shoulders back down without touching them to the bench.
  • Never pull with your hands behind your neck. This forces your neck vertebrae into a bad position. They should simply rest behind your neck or across your chest to add weight to your upper body.
  • Repeat.


Bar Rollout
Main Target: front abs

  • Grab a barbell with 10 lbs weights on each side and affix collars.
  • Kneel and grab bar with overhand shoulder-width grip.
  • Roll the bar to the starting position: directly below your shoulders
  • Slowly roll the bar forward as far as you can without falling to the ground.
  • Focus on using your abs to roll the bar back to the starting position.
  • Repeat.


One legged Crunches
Main Target: obliques. This exercise is nice and easy on your back.

  • Lie on your back with your right leg straight and your left leg bent with the left foot resting on the floor.
  • Raise your right leg a foot off the ground.
  • Do a crunchy with your upper body while bending your right leg, bringing your right knee to your midsection.
  • Do as many repetitions as you can. Then repeat with the left leg.
  • Do not twist.


Lying Leg Raises
Main Target: lower abs.

  • Lie back on a bench grabbing hold of the the barbell supports or the bench behind your head.
  • Start with legs straight pressed together and 4 inches off the ground.
  • Raise legs together in a pike position until your hips are almost bent at 90û.
  • Lower under control to starting position and repeat.


Hanging Leg Raises
Main Target: lower abs.

Cycling or weight lifting gloves make this exercise more comfortable when using a pull-up bar.

  • Hang from a pull-up bar or from a leg raise station where you rest on your forearms.
  • Your legs must be able to hang straight down without touching the ground.
  • Raise your legs in the pike position until they extend horizontally in front of you.
  • Lower them under control and repeat.

If you're too tall to hang your legs straight down, try bending your knees when you lower them, or try frog kicks (see below) instead.

If you're really burly, you can incorporate hanging leg raises into your pull-up routine. Raise your legs as you pull your chin above the bar.

Hanging Leg Arks
Main Target: lower abs and obliques.

  • Place a stool in front of the leg raise station (or imagine one there).
  • Hang your legs from the leg raise station resting on your forearms.
  • Keep shoulders down and head facing forward, with elbows at right angles and back firmly against the back pad.
  • Sometimes the handles are in a less than ideal location, so you might want to just rest on your forearms with your hands extending past the handles.
  • Lift legs together, looping them over the stool to one side and then back over to the side you started on, keeping them straight at all times.
  • Repeat.

The Frog Kick
Main Target: lower and mid abs, and forearm flexors.

  • Hang from a pull-up bar using an overhand grip.
  • Draw your knees up to your chest.
  • Hold briefly.
  • Lower knees until they hang straight down, and immediately repeat.

Some people have trouble with swinging during this exercise. Avoid any problems by incorporating a slight swing into the exercise: When knees are pressed into the chest your torso should slightly swing backward. Before it returns to the center, extend your knees toward the floor. This should swing your torso slightly forward. Immediately press your knees to your chest again, during the back swing, and repeat extension and flexion in synch with the forward and backward swing (see diagram).

This bent knee exercise is helpful for those people whose feet may touch the floor when hanging their legs straight down from a pull-up bar.

If you're really burly, you can incorporate frog kicks into your pull-up routine. Pressing your knees to your chest as you pull your chin above the bar.


Sideways Frog Kick
Main Target: obliques.

  • Hang from a pull-up bar.
  • Bend your knees as far as possible and twist your hips to the right.
  • Do a crunch bringing your knees up while keeping them to the right side.
  • Lower your knees to the starting position under control and repeat.
  • When finished, switch to your left side and repeat the exercise.

Side Raises
Main Target: obliques

  • Grab 2 benches
  • Lie sideways with your hip resting on one bench and your feet locked under the other bench.
  • Lower your torso as far as you can.(This brings you to the starting position.)
  • Raise your torso as high as you can.
  • Pause.
  • Than lower under control and repeat.
  • When finished, switch sides and repeat the exercise.



Side Bends
Main Target: obliques.

  • Stand with feet a shoulder width and a half apart.
  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand at your side.
  • Keep your legs and the hand holding the dumbbell straight.
  • Bend your torso directly to the side the dumbbell is on.
  • Slowly rise back to an erect posture and repeat.
  • Once finished, grab the dumbbell with the other hand, and repeat the exercise on the opposite side.


Trunk Twists

  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Hold a broomstick resting across your shoulders.
  • Rotate the upper body smoothly to bring the right shoulder to the front and the left shoulder to the back.
  • Hold and crunch 2 to 3 inches for a couple seconds.
  • Rotate the upper body smoothly to bring your left shoulder to the front and right shoulder to the back.
  • Hold and crunch 2 to 3 inches for a couple seconds.
  • Repeat.

Stomach Stretches

Back Arch

  • Lie with your belly on the floor.
  • Bring your hands to the sides of your shoulders as if you were going to do pushups.
  • Ease your chest off the floor, keeping your hips and lower abdomen firmly pressed against the floor.
  • Feel the stretch in the front of your torso.


Side Bends

  • Stand erect, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Place your left hand on your left hip.
  • Bend slowly to the left side, raising your right arm over your head.
  • Do not lean forward or backward.
  • Feel the stretch along your right side.
  • Come back to the vertical position and then bend to the right side raising your left arm over your head.

Scratching post

  • Stand facing a wall (or horizontal bar at a height above your head) with your feet planted an arm length away from the wall.
  • Raise your arms and place your palms against the wall (or grab the bar).
  • Without moving your hands, lower your upper torso toward the wall.
  • Feel the stretch in your chest, upper abdomen and upper arms (triceps).

Swimmer streamline stretch

  • Stand erect, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Raise your arms above your head and clasp your hands together.
  • Press your hands toward the sky straightening your arms.
  • Feel the stretch in your torso.

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  • Anatomy Topics

Related Info

Next Page of Muscular System Tour



Get 6-pack Abs
Change just a few aspects of your diet & exercise to achieve a flat stomach

Amazing Facts

  • You have all the muscle fibers you will ever have at birth. Once damaged they can't be replaced.
  • Arnold Shwarzenaeger has just about as many muscle fibers as you do. They're just thicker.
  • A single muscle cell of the sartorius muscle in the thigh can be more than 12 inches long.
  • There are more than 600 voluntary muscles in the body.
  • If all your muscles could pull in one direction you could create a force of 25 tons.
  • Muscles account of 40% of your body weight.

Related Links

Strength Building Exercise

Other skeletal muscles
Facial muscles
Pectoral muscles
Rectus abdominis
External oblique
Internal oblique
Transversus abdominis


Thigh muscles
Lower leg muscles
Latissimus dorsi
Erector spinae muscles
Correct Posture