External Oblique Muscle: Action, Origin & Insertion

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition and Anatomy courses for over 5 years. He has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from Furman University and a M.S. in Dietetics & Nutrition from Florida International University. He is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C)

'Oblique' is a term than means diagonal or slanting. Therefore, the external obliques are muscles that run diagonally in the body. Learn all about the external obliques, including their origin, insertion, and action, in this lesson. Updated: 09/15/2019

External Obliques

Have you ever been to a gym, weight room, or other type of fitness center? If you have, there is a good chance that you have seen people holding weights in each hand while they do side bends or seen people doing a side plank where they lay on their side and support their body weight with one arm. These people were exercising their external oblique muscles.

The external obliques are wide, thin muscles that run diagonally down each side of the abdomen. These muscles not only get their name because of their diagonal orientation, but also because they are one of the most superficial (or external) abdominal muscles. The external obliques can be visible in very muscular and lean individuals.

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External Obliques: Origin & Insertion

The external obliques originate from the outer part of the fifth through twelfth ribs on each side of the rib cage. From these ribs, the external obliques then travel diagonally down each side and attach to several different locations in the front and pubic regions of the body. Specifically, this muscle attaches to:

  • Iliac crest: the top, outer part of the back hip bone
  • Linea alba: a band of fibrous connective tissue that runs vertically down the middle of the abdomen
  • Pubis: the front part of the pubic bone

External Obliques: Action

The main action of the external obliques is to move the spinal column and back in several different directions. These directions include:

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