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A primer on anatomy - Part 4

Rectus abdominis

The frontal, “six-pack” muscle of the abdominal wall, connecting the pelvis to the lower ribs. It compresses the abdomen, and flexes the trunk. The rectus abdominis is abbreviated to abs.

Exercises that train the rectus abdominis include variations of the crunch.

Obliques

The two muscles at the sides of the abdominal wall — external abdominal oblique, and internal abdominal oblique — connecting the ribs with the pelvis. They compress the abdomen, and flex and rotate the trunk.

Exercises that train this muscle include side bends, and crunches.

Transversus abdominis

Deep muscle of the abdominal wall, beneath the rectus abdominis, and obliques. It compresses the abdomen, and flexes the trunk.

Exercises that train this muscle include variations of the crunch.

Quadratus lumborum

Deep muscle either side of the lower spine that helps form the rear of the abdominal wall. Unlike the other muscles of the abdominal wall, the quadratus lumborum doesn't compress the abdomen; instead, it depresses the ribs. When one side acts alone, it bends the spine to the side; when the two sides act together, they extend the spine.

Exercises that train this muscle include side bends, and back extensions.

Serratus anterior

The muscle on the rib cage underneath and slightly forward of the armpit, which gives a ridged appearance on a lean body. It protracts and rotates the scapula.

Pectoralis major

The large muscle of the chest connecting the chest and clavicle to the humerus. It adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the humerus. The pectorals are abbreviated to pecs.

Exercises that train the pecs include bench presses, and parallel bar dips.

Pectoralis minor

The muscle beneath the pectoralis major, connecting some ribs to the scapula. It protracts the scapula, and elevates the ribs.

Latissimus dorsi

The large, wing-like back muscle that connects the humerus to the lower vertebrae and pelvic girdle. It adducts, extends, and medially rotates the humerus. These muscles are abbreviated to lats.

Exercises that train the latissimus dorsi include the machine pullover, pulldown, and rows.

Rhomboids

The rhomboideus major and rhomboideus minor, which connect some upper vertebrae to the scapula. They retract and rotate the scapula.

Exercises that train the rhomboids include the pulldown, and rows.

Rotator cuff muscles

The rotator cuff is where the tendons of four small muscles in the upper back and shoulder area — supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis — fuse with the tissues of the shoulder joint.

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