October 12, 2021 9 min read

The transverse abdominis (TVA) has been called the "body's corset" and is one of many muscles in your core.

It is deep inside your abdominal cavity, under the internal oblique and wraps horizontally around your torso acting like a corset to pull in your waistline. It is part of what makes up the girdle-like structure of the core.

The transverse abdominis is activated when you doactivities that require  postural support. Before we dive deeper into the specifics, let's define what this particular muscle does for you.

What is the Transverse Abdominis?

The transverse abdominis is a muscle located under the obliques and abdominal rectus (six-pack). It functions as a natural girdle or corset to support your back, stomach, and lower spine.

This 3d illustration shows a view of the transverse abdominis muscles on xray musculature

The transverse abdominis helps with everyday activities such as sitting up straight, coughing, sneezing, laughing, bending over, lifting something heavy, and maintaining correct posture. The transverse abdominus also supports your trunk during functional movements like pushing off hands or feet while running or crouching. Strengthening this deep abdominal muscle can improve postural correction and reduce the risk of injury.

The transverse abdominis muscle is not visible from the outside unless there is a layer of fat over this muscle, or you lose body fat and stand very lean and muscular (6-pack abs). The transverse abdominis muscle runs deep in your core and usually cannot be seen through your clothes.

Why is Transverse Abdominis Essential for Core Strength?

The TVA acts as a natural corset to support the spine and corrects faulty posture. In addition, it stabilizes the pelvis, flattens your abdomen, and provides transverse stability. In some people, transversus abdominis may become flat or weak from injury or illness or be naturally very toned due to having a very active lifestyle.

The transverse abdominis muscle wraps horizontally around your torso like a corset, pulling in your waistline. The transverse abdominal muscles are involved in most core exercises you do, for example, crunches and sit-ups. Because most transverse ab exercises work the transverse abdominis (deepest of all core muscles). They need to be performed carefully and with the proper technique, or else you will hurt yourself.

How Can I Activate My Transverse Abdominis During Exercise?

To get more flat, six-pack abs that show, you need to do transverses abdominus exercises because these core muscles sit under the six-pack muscles (rectus abdominous) and need to be toned to enhance what you already have.

When the transverses abdominis becomes weak, thetransverse muscles that connect your ribs, pelvis, and the hip  become weak.

The transverse abdominis muscle is a deep core muscle that wraps around your hips and is attached to your lower ribs, pelvic bone, and iliac crest of the hipbone.

The transverse abdominis is a belt of muscle under your obliques that cinches down, pulling you inwards instead of outwards like transverses abdominus exercises. It is possible to train the transverse abdominis without weights by doing specific yoga positions.

If you want to know how to activate your transverses abdominus during a workout, take a look at these seven specific exercises that can help strengthen this deep abdominal muscle.

1. Heel Slides

  • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and contract transverses abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off your spine). 
  • Then, breathe out and slide one leg a few inches away from the other without arching your lower back or moving it during inhalation/exhalation.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and repeat ten times per side. 
  • Make sure that when sliding the legs apart, they don't leave the body's midline, so you are still bracing with transverse abdominis. Legs can move up to a few inches in the clip.

2. Knee Lifts

  • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and contract transverses abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off your spine).
  • Then, breathe out and lift one knee towards the ceiling without moving it during inhalation/exhalation.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and repeat ten times per side.
  • When performing this exercise, ensure that you don't rotate or arch your lower back throughout the motion. Your leg should be approximately 6-12 inches off the ground.

3. Straight Leg Reaches

  • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and contract transverses abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off your spine).
  • Breathe out and lift one leg towards the ceiling without moving it during inhalation/exhalation.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and repeat ten times per side.
  • When performing this exercise, ensure that you don't rotate or arch your lower back throughout the motion. It would help if you extended the leg out straight.

4. Opposite Arm & Leg Reaches

  • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and contract transverses abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off your spine).
  • Then, breathe out and reach one arm up towards the ceiling while simultaneously reaching one leg out straight without moving them during inhalation/exhalation.
  • Hold for 5 seconds and repeat ten times per side.
  • When performing this exercise, ensure that you don't rotate or arch your lower back throughout the motion. Your arm should be approximately 6-12 inches from the torso.

5. Knee Circles

  • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and contract transverses abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off your spine).
  • Then, breathe out and circle one knee in a clockwise motion without moving it during inhalation/exhalation.
  • Hold for 5 seconds per each rotation x 10 rotations. When performing this exercise, make sure that you don't rotate or arch your back throughout the motion.
  • Your leg should go from straight up towards the ceiling to being bent 90 degrees.

6. Straight Leg Circles

  • Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and contract transverses abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off your spine).
  • Breathe out and circle one leg in a clockwise motion without moving it during inhalation/exhalation.
  • Hold for 5 seconds per each rotation x 10 rotations. When performing this exercise, make sure that you don't rotate or arch your back throughout the motion.
  • Your leg should go from straight up towards the ceiling to being bent 90 degrees.

7. Pelvic Tilts

  • Lay supine (on back) with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep both arms at your sides, breathe in and tuck transverses the abdominus (the muscles you would use if you were trying to pull your belly button off of your spine).
  • Breathe out and arch back as far as possible, hold for 2-3 seconds, keeping transverses contracted during this entire time.
  • Breathe in again while returning to starting position with transverses still contracted.
  • Do about 50 of these bilaterally (one set on each side), ensuring transverses are contracting throughout.
  • With the pelvis tilted back, it's easy for lumbar lordosis to creep into the movement, so be careful not to overdo lower back arching.
  • Make it more challenging by placing hands behind your head, behind your butt, or lifting one leg off the ground while performing the pelvic tilt.

Yoga Poses to Strengthen Transverse Abdominis

Yoga poses are also helpful in strengthening the transverse abdominal muscles. While some yoga poses are good for strengthening transverses abdominal muscles and others work well as stretching exercises, there are a few yoga poses that do both – these would be the best to strengthen stretch your transverses abdominal muscles.

1. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Start on all fours and lift your left knee off the ground. Extend your right leg behind you into a lunge, placing the top of your foot onto the mat and keeping your hips square. Reach back with both hands and take hold of your right ankle or foot, flexing your front foot.

Make sure that you keep both hips level, so one does not drop lower than the other side as you lean forward to deepen this transverse ab strengthening stretch as much as possible without allowing yourself to tip over backward as you go down. Hold for 8-10 breaths before switching legs. This transverse strengthener stretches transverses muscles, shoulder and back muscles.

2. Turtle Pose (Kurmasana)

It is one of the transversus abdominis strengtheners that work as transverse abdominal strengthening exercises for lower back pain. It transversely works on transverse abs, thighs, shoulders, and arms.

Start by sitting up straight with your legs stretched out in front of you. If you find it challenging to sit up straight without hunching over, make sure to sit on a blanket or pillow, so there is enough padding between your bum and the floor (if you are not sitting on a cushion, then tuck a rolled-up towel under your hips).

Lean back onto your forearms with palms down towards the ground. Make sure that both elbows are shoulder-width apart and bend your knees at 90-degree angles.

Tighten your transverse abdominis muscles and pull your belly button up towards the spine to start transversus activate muscle exercises before stretching transverses. Now lower down towards the ground, keeping your elbows in place. Suppose this transverse ab strengthening stretch is too difficult.

In that case, you can perform it sitting upright or leaning slightly forward onto a pillow or a yoga block instead of resting on your forearms, making it easier to tip over backward when going down while transversely working on transverse abdominal muscles. Hold for 8-10 breaths before releasing back into the child's pose.

Why Should You Strengthen Your Transverse Abdominis Muscles?

When the transversus abdominis is strengthened, the spine and abdominal cavity are stabilized while bending and twisting. This protects you from sprains and other injuries: The transverse abs provide support for your lumbar vertebrae and pelvis while preventing hyperextension of your lower back during rotation.

The transversus abdominis is considered the "corset" of your stomach. It's a sheet-like muscle that wraps around your waist from front to back, and because it lies deep beneath the obliques, you can't see it.

It stabilizes your pelvis and spine, which prevents stress on intervertebral disks and helps prevent lower back pain. Additionally, It also compresses the abdomen, giving you a flatter tummy.

Last but not least transverse abdominis supports your internal organs and holds them in place, preventing them from sagging. Besides these benefits, transverse abdominis is essential for postural alignment and is needed to control breathing patterns during exercise or even activities of daily living.

The transverse abdominis is the deepest of the abdominal muscles. It transverses from one transverse process oflumbar vertebrae to another transverse process in front. Thus, it acts to compress your abdomen, support your lower back and pelvis, and assist in forced exhalation.

The transversus abdominis muscle functions similarly to a weight belt. While not very noticeable when activated, it pushes in towards your stomach and provides transversal compression, which increases intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). This means that with enough transverse activation, you can lift much more weight while reducing injury risk.

Tips on Using Transversus Abdominis Muscles

There are different transversus abdominis strengthening exercises that you can do, which will help toimprove transverse abdominis  muscle endurance. You should do all transversus abdominis muscle strengthening exercises in 10-30 reps with 30 second rests between each set.

Transversus abdominis muscles can be strengthened using transversus abdominis (a transverse abdominal strengthening exercise), transversus abdominis plane (TAP blocking), Transverse Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), and many more transverse strengthening exercises.

Breathe normally while performing transversus activate muscle exercises. Exhale during contractions and inhale at the end of transversus exercises. Do transversus abdominis strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days.

Do transversus muscles activation before each workout. You should not hold transversus abdominis muscles contraction for more than 3 seconds.

Stretches for transverse abdominis include transverse abdominis stretch, transverse abdominal strengthening exercises for lower back pain, transverse ab strengthening exercises. Transversus ab stretch can be done using transverse ab stretch band or transversal hip shift.

Do transverse abdominal muscle strengthening exercises three times a week for best results. However, if possible, try to perform transverse abdominal muscle strengthening exercises every day or every other day for better results.

You can make transverse abdominal muscles strengthening exercise more effective when combined with cardiovascular activities.

Wrapping Up

Transverse abdominis exercises transverses abdominus is a deep abdominal muscle that runs side to side below the rectus abdominis, also known as six-pack abs. Strengthening transverse abdominis for core strength will help flatten your stomach, strengthen transverse abominus muscles and give you washboard abs or a six-pack.

So, if you want a flat tummy, these transverses abdominus exercises transverses abdominus is the key. Just practice transverses abdominus exercises 5-10 times every day, and in just two weeks, you'll have slabs of rock-hard abs. To maximize results, we recommend getting our Ripped Stack right now!


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