by STEVEN MILNER IIST VTCT Qualified
Ladies, ever wonder why you never seem to get that flat stomach when you’re relaxed? No matter how effectively you work your abs typically you will be working them in just one direction, up and down, or, more properly along the length of the rectus abdominus. But what about the abdominals that go from side to side? Can we exercise those? Well, yes you can, the transverse abdominals (TA) flatten the tummy from side to side, so read on because I’ve got some information to share with you about working your Transverse Abdominals.
The TA complex belong to a group of core muscles that lie below the rectus abdominus and are often neglected in standard ab routines. Typically most abdominal exercises target the vertical rectus abdominus largely ignoring the horizontal transverse abdominals. Even crunches, the staple of most abdominal workouts, do nothing for the transverse abdominals. This group of muscles connect to both the lower back and the rectus abdominus to form a powerful support for the entire abdomen. Any routine aimed at flattening the stomach should include the transverse abdominals as a focus. Using the following exercises, you can target your transverse abdominals and really make progress towards that flat tummy.
Transverse Abdominal Crunch
Lie face up on a mat and plant your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart, maintain contact between the mat and the small of your back. With the fingers of both hands find the tips of your hip bones on either side of your tummy. Move your fingers inwards slightly towards your centre line just off the hip bone, don’t worry your hip bones are easy to find even if you’re carrying a lot of fat. Now this is an easy exercise to master once you know how to “feel” the transverse muscle working, here’s how, press down slightly with your fingers and cough! You will feel the transverse abdominal wall tighten and jump beneath your fingers. To use the exercise, first cough to initiate the contraction and then hold for a count of ten and relax, repeat for sets.
Lie on your back on a flat surface, such as a mat or a bench. Roll a towel to cushion the small of your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Raise your pelvis off the floor, hold momentarily, and lower under control. Repeat for sets. Maintaining a controlled movement is crucial to this exercise, use your abdominal muscles not your body’s momentum to do the work. Be sure to keep your upper body on the floor throughout to target the transverse complex.
This exercise is fairly simple but can be difficult to master. In a nutshell we’re going to try to pull our belly button in towards our spine, this involves muscles which you may not be accustomed to working, it can take time to make the mind muscle connection. Start by either lying on your stomach or supporting yourself on hands and knees. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. Relax your body as much as possible; use only the lower abdominals to try to move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. You should aim to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it anymore, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, release the contraction and relax.
Again start by lying on a mat or bench, place your hands under your backside and try to keep the small of your back pressed down. Start by slowly raising one leg to a height of about ten inches, then slowly lower it back to the floor, as your lower one leg, raise the other. Repeat this movement for reps and sets. Keep disciplined, focus, don’t let momentum rob you. Your upper body should remain on the floor through the entire move.
Transverse abdominals aren’t show muscles but if you want a flatter tummy vitalising these muscles will take you a lot closer to your goals. Exercises like these are key to any tummy flattening plan, and they are especially good for pregnant and postnatal women.
I wrote this post originally for my bodybuilding blog but it applies equally well to both men and women who want to feel better in their clothes and themselves.