How to Exercise Transverse Abdominal Muscles
POLL: Abdominal Training
How often do you specifically train your abdominal muscles?
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 at 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 or core exercises to choose from. Certain ones will target particular or a combination of abdominal 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 and also wraps around your spine. It is the deepest of all the abdominal muscles.
We are going to concentrate on the transverse abdominis or your "T ABS," as it is your secret ingredient. Your T ABS are your body's natural corset. Though you may not see these muscles as you can the rectus abdominis and obliques, the T ABS hold 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 T ABS, especially as you age or experience pregnancy. If the T ABS are weak, your belly will literally "hang out." Failure to achieve your dream mid-section is usually due to improper training of these muscles. However, particular exercises will strengthen and pull your T ABS inward, creating a slimmer mid-section.
- 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 you 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.
- 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 left leg and right arm approximately 6 to 15 inches off the ground (however much you feel comfortable with and without straining). Alternate legs and arms slowly for approximately 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.
- 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.
- 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 you 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 reach exhaustion, lower your legs to the floor. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds and repeat for 1 to 3 more rounds.
Full Extensions with 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 medicine ball) off the ground approximately 6 inches. Make sure to keep you 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 into your chest. 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.
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.
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 chest and right foot on 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.
The best ab exercise for transverse abdominals 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 suck your belly in as far as you can and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Make sure you are pulling your abs in as 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.
Exercises for the transverse abdominals will definitely strengthen those muscles, as well as help the appearance of your waistline be smaller. 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 a major key in see your abs. Make sure to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
- Second, 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 T ABS training will help you get a flat stomach fast.
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About the author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of whom is autistic. She is a 19-year cancer survivor.