Rectus Abdominis Muscle

February 20, 2018     core | muscle | Anatomy | Torso

The infamous rectus abdominis muscle

There has always been a fascination with the rectus abdominis muscle. It has been popularly called “the six pack muscle”, even though there are technically eight sections created within this muscle. It’s also been popularly debated regarding how it relates to the word core and whether or not strength in this muscle is related to back pain. If you’ve been curious about this muscle, read on. Because, in this post we a look at the muscle along with its attachments and actions.

What does the name rectus abdominis muscle mean?

Rectus is the Latin word for straight. Abdominis of course, refers to the abdomen. The rectus abdominis, specifically, is the straight abdominal muscle that we’re all familiar with.

Where does the rectus abdominis muscle attach?

It’s important to recognize that the origin and insertion of the rectus abdominis can change depending on the movement. Because of the long area it covers and the strength necessary, it’s compartmentalized into little packets. This is what we refer to as the six pack. Technically there are four compartments on each side.


Generally, it’s considered to originate on the pubic symphysis.


It inserts onto the costal cartilages 5, 6, & 7 and the xiphoid process.

The Rectus Abdominis Muscle Attachments

Learn all of your muscles
go to 3d muscle lab

What actions does the rectus abdominis muscle do?

The rectus abdominis acts to flex the trunk and compress the abdominal contents. In the case of these abdominal muscles, stabilization is a key function.

Poses where this muscle contracts


In a posture such as navasana, we see that all of the abdominals will be doing an isometric contraction in order to help stabilize the trunk.


A posture such as parighasana requires lateral flexion of the spine. So, as we lean over our left leg, the left side is contracting.

Poses where this muscle is lengthened

Urdhva Dhanurasana

In a posture such as urdhva dhanurasana we are lengthening all of the abdominal muscles as the rib cage and the pelvis move apart.


In a posture such as parighasana, when we lean over our left leg, the right side of the body is lengthening.

Trigger points

Trigger Points In The Rectus Abdominis Muscle

Trigger Points In The Rectus Abdominis Muscle