‘Why’ It’s So Important to Work Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles
The Consequence of NOT Training Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles
What Are Your Transverse Abdominal Muscles
When people start out training their abdominal muscles, commonly known as a ‘Six Pack’, they get fixated on training their outer abs, known as the rectus abdominis, and the vertical abdominal muscles. But no-one ever considers, that’s even if they know about the third and more important abdominal muscle, which must be trained in conjunction with the rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscle, and that’s the ‘Transverse Abdominal Muscles‘.
The transverse abdominal muscles are a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the human abdomen, and the transverse abdominis muscle is the deepest ab muscle layer. It begins at the pubic bone and ends at the sternum. It’s a very important muscle that helps to stabilize the spine, and very often gets forgotten even by the most experienced trainer.
Unfortunately, even the trusted sit-up or crunches can’t touch these babies, but they are so important when it comes to supporting the back, and preventing injuries. A well exercised set of transverse abdominal muscles also supports the overlying rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscles, even helping to give that chiseled look to the abs.
The reason people neglect their transverse abdominal muscles and concentrate on the rectus abdominis and the vertical abdominal muscles is, because you can’t see the transverse abdominal muscles, they lie underneath the abdominal muscles that show (See Image).
But exercising your abs shouldn’t be for aesthetic appearance alone, you should be exercising for core strength and neglecting your transverse abdominal muscles only weakens the overall effect, opening you up to injuries.
If you are into flattening or strengthening your central core muscles then you must seriously contemplate doing your transverse abdominal muscles.
The following exercises will help you to exercise your transverse abdominal muscles, helping to strengthen and flatten your tummy… Remember to warm up well, before you begin your training.
Lay flat on your back on a firm, flat surface, such as the floor or a bench and use a mat or towel to help cushion and protect your spine. Bend your knees, but make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor.
Make yourself comfortable and start by raising your pelvis, it’s important that you only raise your pelvis off the floor, pause for a count of 3, pulling your belly button in towards your spine during the exercise.
Now lower your pelvis back to your starting position. Repeat this for 10 raps (equals 1 set) doing three sets in all. It’s extremely important that you maintain controlled throughout the movement, because you want this exercise to work your abdominal muscles, rather than your body’s momentum, to do the work on the exercise.
Also, make sure to keep your upper body flat on the floor throughout the whole exercise.
This second exercise is fairly simple, but some people can find it a bit difficult to start with. Basically, it entails you to pull-in your belly button towards your spine. At first you may find this difficult to do, because you are using muscles, which you may not have used before.
To start with, either lie on your stomach, or you can kneel if you wish. You might want to try both ways and see, which helps you feel the exercise better.
Relax your body as much as possible, now using only the lower abdominal draw in your belly button towards your spine as far as possible and hold for ten seconds. If you find this easy, try holding your stomach in for a longer period.
The goal here is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominis. When you feel this, let the contraction out.
This stomach exercise also requires you to lie flat on your back on a flat floor, use a towel to help cushion and protect your spine. Position your hands under your butt; this also helps to support the lower spine.
Keeping your back pressed against the floor, suck in your belly button and slowly raise one leg to a height of about ten inches, and then slowly lowering it back to the floor. As your lower one leg, raise the other.
Repeat this motion for an entire set (10 reps) each leg. As with the other exercises above its crucial that you maintain control throughout the movement, and not allowing momentum to get the better of you. Your upper body should remain flat on the floor at all times.
As you can imagine from the name this exercise resembles the well-known abdominal plank exercise. First lie flat on your stomach, raise your upper body to allow your arms to be placed, elbows and Palm’s down on the ground. Now rise onto the toes of both feet, keeping your body rigid, vertical to the ground.
Now suck in your belly button and raise one leg off the ground as high as possible, hold for the count of 3 lowering back to the ground. As you lower your leg raise the opposite leg off the ground and hold for a count of 3, and then lower back to the ground.
Repeat this for 10 reps x 3 sets. This is a particularly difficult exercise to do and you may find that you can only do one set to begin with, that’s fine, increase as you find the exercise easier to do.
There are plenty of other exercises, which target the transverse abdominals, but these 4 above should be enough for you to get on with. Stomach exercises, like these above, are key to strengthening your core and obtaining a flat tummy, and they are especially good for pregnant and postpartum women.
Best of luck…John
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