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Abdominal Muscles & Exercises to Target Each One

I will never get over how much I love anatomy. It is the perfect blend of science and art!

The “core” isn’t a scientific term, but it is often used to describe the major muscular structures of the abdomen including the muscles of the back, pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles, and diaphragm.

When we repeatedly do flexion/extension at the spine and forget to rotate and use diagonal movements, we miss the angles that best emphasize the line of pull for each abdominal muscle!

Because we often need to do bending, twisting, and lifting motions, we need stability and support for the entire range of motion.

Many abdominal muscles are active in these types of activities (they don't work in isolation) and I listed a few exercises that emphasize each one.

If you find yourself only doing sagittal plane exercises, deliberately mix it up and challenge yourself!

Produce and resist force! 💪🏼

Rectus Abdominis (Sagittal Plane Movements)

  • Crunch

  • Sit-Up

  • In-and-Out (Cocoons)

  • Reverse Curl Up

  • Leg Drop

  • Jackknife/V-Up

  • Pike Toe Touch

  • Deadbug

  • Exercise Ball Pull-In

  • Hanging Leg Raise

Transverse Abdominis (Transverse Plane Movements)

  • Russian Twists

  • Cable Core Rotations

  • Plank with Core Rotation

Internal Oblique (Diagonal Plane Movements)

  • Ab Bicycle

  • Jackknife Using Alternating Leg

  • Woodchop

  • Supine Knees to Chest

  • Crab Toe-Touch

External Oblique (Diagonal Plane Movements)

  • Spider Crunch

  • Plank with Step Through

  • Cable Core Rotations

  • Supine Alternate Heel Touches

You can do difficult things!

With my love,


Dr. Monique Middlekauff is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). She has been a certified personal trainer with the NSCA, ACSM, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) for over 10 years.

She is a certified Higher Education Teaching Specialist (HETs) and has instructed courses ranging from introductory to graduate level including Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, Exercise Physiology Lab, Resistance Training, Fitness Foundations, Aging and Exercise, and Skeletal Mechanics.

She is a former NCAA DI volleyball athlete and loves to exercise outdoors. Monique is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and is an Exercise is Medicine Level 3 credentialed provider. Monique works for a major health system in Idaho as the manager of a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic.

Her goal is to pursue health and overall wellbeing through evidence-based practice. Physical wellness comes in many forms, and she seeks to celebrate where you are, and challenge you to be better!


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