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Muscles of the abdominal wall

Learning objectives

After going through this study unit, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and name the muscles of the abdominal wall and learn how they are arranged.
  2. State the attachments and innervation patterns for these muscles.
  3. Understand the anatomical relationships between muscles of the abdominal wall.

Watch videos

Ever tried doing a plank exercise for longer than 10 seconds? Then you surely must’ve felt your abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles are divided into the anterolateral and posterior groups, thus comprising the anterolateral and posterior abdominal walls.

  • The anterolateral muscles are those that compose the front and the sides of our abdomen. There are five muscles in this group (deep to superficial): transversus abdominis, internal abdominal oblique, rectus abdominis, external abdominal oblique, and pyramidalis muscles.
  • The posterior abdominal muscles are those that compose the back portion of your abdomen. The posterior group consists of one true posterior wall muscle, the quadratus lumborum, as well as the iliopsoas muscle group which continues into the lower limb.

These muscles not only compose the walls of the abdomen, but they also support the abdominal viscera and participate in the formation of important anatomical passageways that allow structures from the abdomen and pelvis to reach the perineum and lower limb (e.g. superficial inguinal ring).

This video tutorial will help you learn the anatomy of these muscles. 

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Browse atlas

Examine each muscle with our atlas gallery:


Muscles of the abdominal wall
Anterolateral abdominal muscles Transversus abdominis, internal abdominal oblique (cremaster muscle), rectus abdominis, external abdominal oblique, pyramidalis
Innervation: Lower intercostal nerves (T7-T11), subcostal nerve (T12), iliohypogastric nerve (L1), ilioinguinal nerve (L1), genital branch of genitofemoral nerve (L1-L2) (cremaster muscle)
Posterior abdominal muscle Quadratus lumborum, Iliopsoas, psoas minor
Innervation: Subcostal nerve (T12), anterior rami of spinal nerves L1-L4
Important structures related to these muscles Rectus sheath, linea alba, inguinal ligament, inguinal canal, deep inguinal ring, superficial inguinal ring, inguinal falx (conjoint tendon)

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