Science Explains Why People Have Different Numbers of Abs

Some people have six packs, while others have eight packs, and some even have four or two packs.

Katrina Paulson

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Photo by Szabolcs Toth on Unsplash

I came of age when defined six-pack abs were all the rage. This was during the dawn of the internet when billboards, magazines, and shows were full of skinny people showing off their “washboard” abs. If you don’t know, the slang term “washboard” refers to the popular 19th and 20th-century tool used for washing clothes. In this case, the ridges represent the crisscross lines across our abdominals, often creating two columns of three squares — hence “six-pack.”

Anyway, in terms of fitness, having a well-defined six-pack is generally considered a mark of superb physicality. The more defined these little squares on our stomachs are, the more impressive. While having a six-pack is the standard, some people have an eight-pack! Does that mean the latter is stronger? And what about people with two or four-packs? Are they weaker? Let’s find out.

Anatomy

First, let’s review some brief anatomy of our abdominals, or as we often refer to them, our abs. A group of five muscles comprise our abdominal wall, which runs from our ribs to our pelvis. Specifically, the pyramidalis, rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, and transversus abdominis. Together, these muscles help hold our organs in place, support our bodies as we move, protect our spine, and aid our flexibility.

The external and internal obliques and transversus abdominis are flat muscles that stack on each other and run from our lower sides to our lower middle. Your obliques work together, allowing you to twist and turn your torso, while the transversus abdominis are the deepest abdominal muscle, stabilizing your torso and helping to maintain your internal abdominal pressure.

Unlike the previous three, the pyramidalis and rectus abdominus run vertically. The pyramidalis is shaped like a small triangle and resides deep in your pelvis, helping your transversus abdominis maintain abdominal pressure. But it’s the rectus abdominis muscle that creates the infamous six-pack.

The rectus abdominis is your longest abdominal muscle and is responsible for keeping…

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Katrina Paulson

I wonder about humanity, questions with no answers, and new discoveries. Then I write about them here and on substack! https://curiousadventure.substack.com