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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
May 04, 2023 1 Comment
The transverse abdominis muscle is the deepest muscle in the abdomen. It won't give you the much desired six pack look but this unsung hero of the abdominal muscles, acts as a natural lifting belt keeping our internal organs protected and giving support to the pelvic and lumbar region. Perhaps even more importantly, the transverse abdominis muscle is recruited every time we move our limbs. This post covers 23 of the best transverse abdominis exercises and stretches that will strengthen your core.
The transverse abdominis is a lesser-known muscle found in the front side abdominal wall under the internal oblique muscle. This muscle is referred to as the transverse abdominal muscle, transversus abdominis muscle, transversalis muscle and abbreviated as the TVA.
Transverse abdominis muscle gets its name from the direction of its muscle fibers, as they are laid out in a horizontal fashion in the abdominal region. These flat muscles have more than one origin, arising from the front two-thirds of the iliac crest and lateral third of the inguinal ligament and iliac fascia, thoracolumbar fascia and finally the inner surface of the lower six costal cartilage of the lower six ribs.
To save you time and an anatomy lesson, the transverse abdominis ends in the midline of the abdomen. If you’re not familiar with some of these body parts you can think of the transverse abdominis as a muscle under your obliques that stretches from your ribs to your pelvis.
The transverse abdominis is an essential muscle in the core that provides stabilization to the spine and pelvis so that movement of the limbs is possible by supporting the torso thus maintaining abdominal wall tension. This muscle also protects internal organs and holds them in place. Sometimes mentioned as the “corset muscle” the transverse abdominis supports our body’s core by wrapping around our sides. Transverse rotation is a part of daily life as we twist and turn constantly a strong and healthy transverse abdominis is paramount.
How to activate the transverse abdominis muscle?
Transverse abdominis muscle activation isn’t straight forward because of the deep location in the abdomen. To get an idea of how to activate it you can lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take your hands and feel the area of the lower abdomen by your pelvic bone. From here you can contract your transverse abdominis slowly draw in the area of your lower abdomen. Try to breathe normally in this position as you keep your muscles contracted.
Another method of activating and engaging the transverse abdominis is by bracing your core. To do this take a deep breath then tighten your abdomen region like you are bracing for impact. You should be able to continue to breathe normally with your muscles contracted.
WHAT EXERCISES WORK THE TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS?
The transverse abdominis muscle can be exercised in a number of ways including breathing exercises, transverse plane exercises, core exercises and even leg exercises that engage the core. As an added bonus, moves such as the dead bug exercise are able to hit your deepest core muscles, while keeping your lower back safe. Having strong core muscles can help prevent injuries, make you look better and perform better.
Here are the 19 best transverse abdominis exercises that will help to strengthen your core. These exercises can be performed daily as almost all of them are bodyweight transverse ab exercises. As always you should consult with your doctor before beginning any new fitness routines.
However, if you're in good health and you're up for a challenge try to run through each of these exercises twice. For all exercises shoot for 10 repetitions for each leg if single leg exercise or 20 repetitions if it you don't have to switch sides. If it is a timed exercise try for 30-60 seconds.
Ready, set, go!
More Resources On Building Abs:
To keep your transverse abdominis muscle healthy and free from cramps or trigger points stretching is necessary. This muscle is involved in moving our limbs so keeping it warmed up and properly stretched can help avoid potential muscle strains. Just like any other muscle, stretching increases blood and oxygen circulation to the muscle tissue.
Try these four transverse abdominis stretches to get you prepared for whatever life has ready to throw at you.
Here we have more abdominal stretches for before and after your workouts.
The transverse abdominis muscle plays a major role in most movements our bodies make. It’s important to train this muscle just as you would any other major muscle. We often get hung up on focusing on our visible abs and obliques forgetting about the real workhorse hiding underneath.
How do you do TVA breathing?
Breathing exercises such as diaphragmetic breathing are extremely beneficial for the transverse abdominis. An excellent way of strengthening the TVA is through deep breathing techniques. Follow the steps below to target the transverse abdominis without doing any planks or crunches!
Transverse abdominis pain can be the result of muscle strain. Trigger points can also develop in the muscle which can be treated with myofascial release. Another cause can be from the elongation of the muscle during pregnancy which can lead to lower back and core muscle problems. The common symptoms of transverse abdominis pain are:
How do you know if you have a weak transverse abdominis?
A strong core allows you to perform daily activities with reduced risk of injury. To gauge your core’s strength, you can do a few easy self-tests to determine if you transverse abdominis. Try to do some exercises like glute bridges or leg raises and if you have any pain in the lower back area you might have weak transverse abdominis muscles.
Here are four signs that your core might be weak:
Why is it important to have a strong transverse abdominis?
Being the deepest layer of abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis plays an major role in preventing our bodies from moving in improper ways. It’s important to have a strong transverse abdominis because if this muscle is weak then it can’t properly support the pelvis and spine thus leading to lower back pain. By keeping your pelvis in a neutral position and your lumbar spine supported, a strong transverse abdominis muscle can actually prevent back pain.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of the often forgotten transverse abdominis muscle now. Time to start focusing on the ab muscle you can't see. You will have to put in the hard work and consistent effort to strengthen your entire core not just the beach muscles. A stronger core equates to a stronger you!
Interested in more great core strengthening exercises? Be sure to check out the 11 Best Rectus Abdominis Exercises & Stretches!
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September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023
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