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How to Strengthen the Transversus Abdominis

by
author image Paula Quinene
Paula Quinene is an Expert/Talent, Writer and Content Evaluator for Demand Media, with more than 1,500 articles published primarily in health, fitness and nutrition. She has been an avid weight trainer and runner since 1988. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor's in exercise science from the University of Oregon and continues to train clients as an ACSM-Certified Health Fitness Specialist.
How to Strengthen the Transversus Abdominis
A woman is exercising on a stability ball. Photo Credit Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images

The transverse abdominis muscle is the muscle you want to exercise if you are after a toned and tight abdominal area. This muscle is the body's natural girdle, running in the horizontal direction from one side of your abdomen to the other, holding your abdominal organs in place. Your transverse abdominis does not move your rib cage and pelvis toward each other in a crunching action. Instead, when you suck your navel toward your spine you are contracting your transverse abdominis.

Swiss Ball Contractions

Step 1

Sit on a Swiss exercise ball then walk your legs out, positioning your shoulder blades directly on top of the ball. Lift your pelvis up so it is in line with your body and hold it in this position.

Step 2

Suck your navel toward your spine to engage your transverse abdominis. Straighten your arms out to either side.

Step 3

Slowly lean toward the left until your left shoulder blade is off of the ball, contracting your abdominals tightly to maintain balance. Hold this position for five seconds then return to the center position.

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Step 4

Slowly lean toward the right until your right shoulder blade is off of the ball, contracting your abdominals tightly to maintain your balance. Hold this position for five seconds then return to the center position.

Step 5

Continue to alternate sides, completing 10 total repetitions. Perform three sets.

Abdominal Presses

Step 1

Lie flat on your back on an exercise bench, bending your legs so the bottoms of your feet are flat on the bench.

Step 2

Draw your navel toward the exercise bench, contracting your transverse abdominis as hard as you can while still breathing normally.

Step 3

Hold the contraction for five seconds then relax for five seconds. Repeat for three sets of 10 repetitions.

All-Fours

Step 1

Position your hands and knees on the floor, ensuring your palms are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips; place a cushion beneath your knees for comfort.

Step 2

Contract your transverse abdominis to pull your navel and your abdominal organs up against your back, barely rounding your spine.

Step 3

Hold the contraction for five seconds then relax for five seconds. Repeat for three sets of 10 repetitions.

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References

  • Anatomy & Physiology; Gary Thibodeau, Ph.D., et al.
  • Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
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