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Your abdominals, commonly called abs, consist of several
muscle groups, all located in the midsection, just below your chest
to your pubic bone. These include: rectus abdominis which is made up
of upper, middle, and lower abs; transverse abdominis; and the
obliques. The upper, middle and lower abs start near the middle of
your sternum and runs vertically to the lower part of the pelvis;
they are responsible for flexing the vertebral column or helping you
curl your trunk as you would when doing crunches or sitting up in
bed. The transverse abdominal muscles run horizontally and are the
deepest muscular layer of the abs; they run around your body like a
girdle and help compress and support internal organs. The obliques
are the muscles that make up your waist and consist of two smaller
groups: the external obliques and the internal obliques. The
external obliques are the muscles of the upper and outside part of
your waistline; they start just under your chest, on your lower
eight ribs, and are responsible for helping you twist and bend
sideways. The internal obliques are located beneath the external
obliques; they also helps you twist. It is important to have strong
abdominals for most all motions, including common day-to-day
activities. In addition, most low-back pain is attributed to weak
Upper and Middle Abdominals
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet
together flat on the floor and about 10-15 inches from your
- Your hands should either be crossed on your chest, by your
side, or cupped behind your ears.
- Without moving your lower body, curl your upper torso up
and in toward your knees, until your shoulder blades are as
high off the ground as you can get them. Only your shoulder
blades should lift--not your back.
- As you come to the highest point tighten and flex your
abdominals for a brief second.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
- Don't jerk yourself up to achieve the exercise. Slowly
bring yourself up using your abdominals only.
- Don't let your lower back raise off the floor. Go as far
up as you feel your abdominals become tight and hold for a
- Don't move quickly. You must do this exercise very slowly
and resist on the way back.