How to Exercise the Transverse Abdominal Muscle
Do you find yourself constantly looking for a magical way to lose abdominal fat? Maybe you're sick of your friends teasing you about the "beer" gut, or you just gave birth and find yourself left with some extra "baby" weight around the waist. Suddenly finding yourself without the trim fit body that you once had can really bring on the blues. Before you know it, you are on your laptop searching for "how to lose abdominal fat" or "best stomach exercises." After all, you want a flat stomach fast so that you can be confident again!
There is much information to be found on how to lose abdominal fat, flatten your stomach, or get six pack abs. Obtaining the stomach or abs of your dreams is not far out of reach. With the right program, it can be done no matter how much abdominal fat you may need to shed. There are all kinds of abdominal exercises to choose from. Certain ones will target particular or a combination of abdominal or core muscles:
- Rectus abdominis. This muscle is the most popular. Running along the front wall of your abdomen, it is known as your "six-pack abs." They are used primarily for flexion, bending, and stability.
- External obliques. This muscle is located along the sides and front of your abdomen. They are used mostly for flexion and rotation.
- Internal obliques. On both sides, this muscle is located underneath the external obliques and running in the opposite direction. They are also used for flexion and rotation.
- Transverse abdominis. Providing you with protection and stability, this muscle is located underneath both the external and internal obliques, along the front and sides of the abdominal wall. It also wraps around your spine and is the deepest of the abdominal muscle group.
Target the Transverse Abdominis
We are going to concentrate on the transverse abdominis, or TVA, as it is your secret ingredient. This muscle is your body's natural corset. Though you can't see it the same way you can see the rectus abdominis and obliques, the transverse abdominis holds everything in.
Imagine an old rubber band that's been used and re-used. It eventually gets weak and is no longer useful for holding things. That old rubberband is like your TVA, especially as you age or experience pregnancy. If this layer of muscle is weak, your belly will literally "hang out." Failure to achieve your dream mid-section is usually due to improper training of this deep muscle. A weak TVA may also lead to lower back pain. The transversus abdominis works with the pelvic floor muscles to stabilize the lower (lumbar) back and pelvis.
These exercises will strengthen and pull your transverse abdominis inward, to create a slimmer midsection and build your core strength for smoother, injury-free movement.
The Best Exercise to Strengthen the TVA
The vacuum. All you have to do is exhale as much as you can, suck your belly in as far as it will go, and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Make sure you are pulling your abs in as if they were meeting your back.
Transverse Abdominal Exercises for Beginners
How to Do Flutter Kicks
- Lie flat on your back on the floor or a mat. Your legs should be fully extended with a slight bend in the knees. With your hands behind your head, lift your shoulders off the floor. Keep your neck in alignment with your spine (don't pull your neck forward).
- To begin the flutter kick exercise, quickly move your legs up and down alternating left and right with small scissor-like kicks. Keep your abdominal muscles tight or contracted, pulling them in towards the ground, as they should be doing the majority of the work.
- Once you've reached exhaustion, lower your legs to the floor. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat for 1 to 3 more rounds.
How to Do Superman
- Lie flat on your stomach on the floor or a mat. Your legs should be fully extended behind you, and your arms should be fully extended in front of you. Both legs and arms should be shoulder width apart.
- Raise legs and arms approximately 6 to 15 inches off the ground (however much you feel comfortable with and without straining). Repeat slowly for approximately 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Once you've reached exhaustion, lower your legs and arms to the floor. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat for 1 to 3 more rounds.
- An alternative way to do this exercise is to raise the left arm and right leg, hold, and then switch sides.
Intermediate Transverse Abdominal Exercises
How to Do Bicycles for Flat Abs
- Lie flat on your back on the floor or a mat. Your legs should be fully extended with one leg at a 90-degree angle and the other at a 45-degree angle. With your hands behind your head, lift your shoulders off the floor. Keep your neck in alignment with your spine (don't pull your neck forward).
- To begin the bicycle exercise, quickly move your legs as if you are pedaling. Alternate left and right, continually moving the 90-degree leg to a 45-degree and vice versa.
- Once you've reached exhaustion, lower your legs to the floor. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds and repeat for 1 to 3 more rounds.
How to Do Full Extensions with a Medicine Ball
- Lie flat on your back on the floor or a mat. Your legs should be fully extended. Extend your arms behind your head while holding a medicine ball. Lift both your legs and your hands (with your medicine ball) off the ground approximately 6 inches. Make sure to keep your neck in alignment with your spine (don't pull your neck forward).
- To begin the full extension with medicine ball exercise, slowly bring your knees up to your chest in a crunch position. At the same, bring the medicine ball forward towards your knees while lifting your shoulders off the floor. Once your knees have met the ball, extend back to starting position while still keeping your feet and hands off the floor approximately 6 inches. Also, make sure you keep your abs tight or contracted throughout the exercise. This completes one repetition. Repeat until exhaustion.
- Once you've reached exhaustion, lower your legs to the floor. Release the ball and sit up. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds and repeat for 1 to 3 more rounds.
How to Do a Pushup to Plank Row
- Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Make sure the dumbbells are light enough for you to pull (row) for approximately 10 to 15 repetitions. Going lighter to begin is always better as it is easier to adjust by increasing the weight.
- After the dumbbells are in place, assume a pushup position while placing your hands on the dumbbells, arms extended, and chest aligned with the dumbbells. Your feet should be extended behind you and approximately shoulder width apart (or slightly wider). Make sure your spine should be straight with no humps or dips.
- To begin the pushup to plank row exercise, stabilize your body by shifting your weight to the left side. Once you are stabilized, pull the right dumbbell with your right arm up and elbow towards the ceiling in a controlled manner. Also, keep your hips locked in place, pulling abs tight or contracted to stabilize your core. Slowly lower the dumbbell to the floor and stabilize your body. Repeat on the other side. With both arms extended and hands on dumbbells, do a normal pushup while still holding the dumbbells. This concludes one repetition. Continue until you have completed 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Once you've reached exhaustion, lower your knees to the floor and sit up. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes and repeat for 1 to 2 more rounds.
How to Do a Plank with Medicine Ball Knee-Tuck
- Place a medicine ball on the floor. Get into a plank or pushup position with feet near the medicine ball and arms extended.
- To begin the plank with medicine ball knee tuck exercise, put left foot on medicine ball while stabilizing your core by tightening or contracting your abs. Once you are stabilized, pull the right knee into your chest quickly and then extend the same leg back out towards the medicine ball. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the same leg. Then repeat this cycle with the left knee towards your chest and the right foot on the medicine ball.
- Once you've reached exhaustion, take your foot off the medicine ball and lower your knees to the floor and sit up. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes and repeat for 1 to 2 more rounds.
POLL: Abdominal Training
How often do you specifically train your abdominal muscles?
Transverse Abdominal Exercises for All Levels
The best ab exercise for transverse abdominal is the vacuum. It can be done by all levels and literally anywhere at anytime. You can do it while sitting up or lying down. It can be done in bed, at the office, or while driving your car. All you have to do is exhale as much as you can, suck your belly in as far as it will go, and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Make sure you are pulling your abs in as if they were meeting your back.
You may also kill two birds with one stone in this workout by exercising your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that stop the urine flow) at the same time. Pull your pelvic floor muscles upward at the same time you are pulling your abdominal muscles inward.
This is one of the best ab exercises of all time. At first, you may only be able to do three repetitions. Build on that by doing them two to three times per day. Increase the repetitions weekly as well as the time for each repetition. Before you know it, you will have tight abs and a smaller waist.
These exercises will strengthen your transverse abdominal muscle and should help slim your waistline. However, there are still two other factors that will help you melt body fat off your six-pack abs. Without them, you may have strong abs but you may not be able to see your full potential.
- First, diet is an essential part of developing your abs. Make sure to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Ab Ripper X is one of the best abdominal workouts around. It's tough, but it builds strength by using the movements of your hips and chest.
- Dead-lifts, squats, and leg-raises are great ways to exercise your abs. Here is how to do them safely.
- Do full-body workouts that include cardio to melt body fat. Thirty minutes of fast-paced walking or doing medium intensity cardio exercises on an elliptical, recumbent bike, or stair climber will help you shed the unwanted fat. Including diet and cardio with your abdominal training will help you get a flat stomach fast.
- Incorporating weights into your routine may help you get to your goal faster. These are the best exercises with dumbbells to help tone your abs.
- If you like using machines at the gym, here is a great series of exercises for abs including an ab pulldown.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
How many times per week do I have to do transverse exercises to see results?
You should do resistance exercise at least three days per week with at least 20-30 minutes of cardio six days per week. As for as abdominal exercises, the best practice for strong abs would be at least two to three times per week.Helpful 6