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The transverse abdominis (TVA) is a muscle that is similar to Saran wrap, as it wraps from your front to your back and pulls your abs inward. The TVA also assists with forced expiration, urination, and defecation, but from an exercise standpoint, it's important because it supports and stabilizes the spine.
Below are a few key exercises to assist in flattening your abs through transverse ab exercises. The exercises below are:
- Plank Pose
- Stomach Vacuum
- Pelvis Lift
- Lifting Weights
This exercise is an isometric exercise that requires you to simply hold the position for a period of time. You can perform the plank on your forearms or hands, similar to holding a pushup position. Make sure your back is straight and your head is not dipping down. You may also raise one leg into the air to increase the intensity of this exercise or bring your knee to your elbow to really increase the intensity.
This exercise is also known as abdominal vacuum or ab vacuum and can be performed sitting, standing, or, as I prefer it, lying down. With this exercise, your goal is to pull your belly button into and towards your spine, and then hold. While lying down, try to perform this exercise without raising your chest or contracting your rectus abdominis muscle, if you can.
This exercise can also be performed while standing or kneeling. However remember to bring your belly button to your spine, don't just suck in.
Bridging or Pelvis Lift
Although this exercise targets the gluteal muscles, the movement and pause at the end do target the transverse muscle. Begin this movement by lying on your back with your feet pulled in, so your knees are comfortably bent. Then raise your hips up while keeping your hands, head, upper back, and shoulders on the floor. Pause for 10 - 15 seconds when you reach the top, and repeat.
Now, if you remember, I mentioned at the beginning that the TVA muscle supports and stabilizes the spine. It does this with the assistance of the obliques and rectus muscles. So another great way to target the TVA muscle is to lift weights while standing and not sitting on a machine. Also, the weight needs to be heavy enough to support muscle, joint, and bone growth, however, keep in mind your limits.
These three lifts are good for lifting while standing and help with contracting the muscles that deal with stabilization and support.
- Standing dumbbell press
These are just three examples, but you can see how they would also target the transverse abdominal muscle throughout the movements
Hope you enjoyed this article and always remember to work within your limits and enjoy the exercise you are doing.
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.
© 2013 Sean Evans