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Have you ever heard about the transverse abdominis muscle (TVA)? No, I’m not talking about the rectus abdominis which made up the six-pack abs. TVA is not visible since it is under the other muscles of the abdomen. However, it is a vital core muscle that stabilizes the lower back and lumbar spine. This way weak transverse abdominis may lead to back pain and injury when you workout.
Transverse abdominis function
This muscle is rather significant. It is located between your ribs and pelvic floor going at the front and back part of the torso. It is similar to a corset that surrounds the lower part of the back and the internal organs. When it is tightened, it pushes back the internal organs and makes your tummy flat. And since, this core muscle is activated in almost every move you make.
What are the typical symptoms of weak TVA?
People with a big belly, besides the fat, have a salient stomach because of the weak and lengthened TVA. This can happen because of lack of exercise, pregnancy, or weight gain. And, it looks not only bad, but also have adverse effects on health. For example, it causes lower back pain, breathing problems. Hence, strengthening the TWA is really important.
How to engage transverse abdominis?
If you do the typical abdominal exercises like crunches, sit-ups or others, you strengthen your TWA just a little bit since those moves target other parts of the abs. Hence, it is recommended to do different types of exercises for better targeting.
There are two ways to activate your TWA by bracing or hollowing. Both of them are isometric and static techniques.
What do you do when someone wants to punch in your stomach? From reflex, you tighten your entire abdomen. Bracing is something similar. The movement is minimal at the beginning, and then your ab is tightened. That is what you should imitate when you want to strengthen your TVA via bracing.
Here is a video with useful examples for abdominal bracing.
The other way to target your TVA is by using the hollowing technique. It starts by laying on the ground. Then, you tighten your stomach and pull your belly button back as possible. The aim is to make your abdomen as small as possible and hold it squeezed for about 10 seconds.
Here is a tutorial.
Transverse abdominis exercises
Various planks are the best to target your TVA. If you have ever done a plank correctly, you felt your entire abdomen is in contraction. As if there was a tight corset around your lower torso. But, correct execution is vital. With the traditional plank, you can target all part of this muscle, while with side plan the sides and your external and internal obliques.
Check out the following picture to learn the proper form.
To sum up
I hope you now understand why this deep core muscle is so essential for health and functional strength. We are willing to focus on those visible muscles that build the six-pack abs, but you should pay attention to the hidden parts as well. By the way, a strong transversus abdominis also helps to have a flat tummy. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.