Training your abdominals is not only a great way to achieve that flat stomach you’ve set as a goal but also to build up your core strength. This creates the foundation for your body’s strength and mobility. Having a strong core can not only help with back pain but set you up to have great posture.

Although you may have a particular image of how you want your abs to look, remember that a lot more than working out affects it. Your body type and even your pelvis bone width will also play a factor in the shape of your midsection.

There are often new workout trends and even novelty gym equipment being pushed on us. But before we follow these trends and jumping into crunches, it’s essential to understand your ab muscles, so you can really target them. Honing in on the specific group will allow you to maximize your workouts and encourage you to give each muscle a workout.

Let’s look at your anatomy. Here are the four ab muscles:

Rectus Abdominis: These are the muscles people think of when they talk about ‘six-packs.’ Made of two paired sheets of muscles, the rectus abdominis runs from your ribs to your pelvis.

External Obliques: This pair of muscles are located on the sides of the torso. They run diagonally downward from the lower ribs to the pelvis and form a V shape.

Internal Obliques: The internal obliques are located below the external oblique muscles, and the two are at right angles with each other.

Transversus Abdominis: This is the deepest layer, and it wraps around your torso horizontally.

To target all four muscles, it’s essential to do more than just a traditional sit-up. Sit-ups can actually target more of the hip flexors, especially if you put weight on your feet during this workout.

Try to add planks and plank variations like side planks and crawl-outs to work on stabilization. Rotation exercises like Russian twists and bicycle crunches will target those obliques.

Just remember when you are performing these routines to maintain proper form and focus on contracting. This is how you’ll really get these muscles engaged and toned!