Transverse Abdominis Exercises

Because the Transverse Abdominis TA is known as the corset muscle, it is the one we want to hit up to get those pre-mommy tummies back. We need train all four of our abdominal muscles (TA, rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique), but the TA is essential for getting a flatter tummy and kick the “bread loaf” or “ab doming”.

The TA runs horizontally across the front of the abdomen and acts like a corset. The main job of the TA is to stabilize the spine and pelvis before you move your arms or legs. These guys need to work all day, every day. Every time you take a step, climb a stair, reach overhead, cough or laugh so hard you cry, these lovely little muscles are kicking in. It’s not just about the 30 minutes of exercise we do, but the other 23.5 hours of the day.

The problem is that we are not taught how to correctly and selectively strengthen the TA.  So let’s do just that!  Watch our Ab Rehab Workout.

Transverse Abdominis: the foundation

TA and pelvic floor
The transverse abdominis supports your baby during pregnancy. The fibers act just like a corset, pulling the core in from all angles (front and back). They are the most important of the muscle groups of the abdomen. The pelvic floor and TA keep your belly from dropping to your toes. The TA and PF, together with the uterus, work to push your baby out during delivery. Having those muscles be as strong and flexible as possible during labor while greatly ease your baby’s entry into the world and you’ll be grateful for that.

Core muscles are not only important in labor and delivery, but also, they are important in the pregnant woman’s changing center of gravity, postural changes and muscle imbalances. Keeping the core muscles pliable and strong will decrease common pregnancy discomforts. The TA is responsible for stabilizing your spine and pelvis . So doesn’t it make sense to focus a few ab exercises to strengthen them?

The transverse is activated throughout the day, sometimes without our noticing. Anytime we step off a curb or trip, the TA is activated unintentionally. As you are holding you’re your toddler or sitting at your desk, you should focus on contracting the transverse abdominis.

Just how do we contract the transverse abdominis?

Transverse Abdominal Contraction

In order to fully engage your abdominals, and in particular your transverse abdominis (TA), you have to pull your navel in toward your spine “hugging your baby”, without shifting the pelvis. This engages the TA, and also works on the other muscles that run along your spine. Pulling your navel toward your spine is not the same thing as sucking in your gut. What do you when you suck in your gut? You hold your breath, you tuck your hips. You don’t want to do that. A great cue is to think about “hugging you baby” or saying “ssssssss” as you exhale. Core stability takes time and consistency. It’s not a form of traditional training, be patient!

Transverse Abs: Bent Knee Fallouts (incorrect + correct)

Transverse Abs: Dead Bug

Transverse Abs: the crunch

When performing a crunch the usual focus is on the rectus abdominis, which is great, but it will not flatten your belly. The TVA or TA (transverse abdominis) is what will help you flatten your belly. The TA is a thick layer of muscle that runs from hip to hip. The transverse abdominal muscle wraps around the torso from front to back and the muscle fibers of the TA run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt. *Note for my Prego Moms out there – the muscle action is the same during pregnancy, there is just a baby under your muscles!

The transverse abdominis is often overlooked, under cued and under recruited.

The fact is you cannot get a flat stomach without training your inner core.  Period.  Therefore any abdominal exercise, like a crunch, will only flatten the belly if the TA is activated.

The best core exercise recruits not only the TA, but the pelvic floor as well!

Ab Rehab Program

A series of core-specific workouts (found in our Diastasis Recti and 30 Day Restore programs) combined with the cues for scar tissue, fascia, c-section, etc. (found in Ab Rehab guide) will help you train your core from the inside out by strengthening the transverse abdominis (or TA).

Transverse Abdominis exercises approximate the recti bellies and strengthens the integrity of the linea alba, which in turn helps to get rid of the muffin top, mommy belly, or whatever ugly name you have for it.  It also helps to close an abdominal separation or gap, otherwise known as diastasis recti!

Not only will you learn how to cue the TA, you will strengthen the TA, creating a healthy core.  It will teach you how to use these inner core muscles, how to do arm and leg exercises while keeping the belly tissues safe and slowly add traditional exercises as the condition gets better.


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