Transverse Abdominal Exercises

Transverse Abdominal Exercises

The transversus abdominis muscles are deep abdominal muscles that stabilize your spine. They are as important, if not more so, than the other abdominal muscles. They are worked differently than the rectus abdominis and oblique abdominal muscles. Common exercises like crunches and sit-ups mainly work the rectus abdominis muscles that contribute to a six-pack. Other exercises should be done to target the transverse abdominal muscles. Three days a week of core exercises is good to build abdominal strength. At least one day should include transverse-specific exercises.

Lying Exercises
Planks, side planks and prone iso-abs are some basic core exercises that work the transversus abdominis. These are good exercises to start with if you are new to exercise or have not been targeting your core. Planks are done by holding a lifted push-up position. Get onto your hands and toes with your body facing the floor. Your hands are under your shoulders and your feet are hip-width apart. Your back is flat and your abs are engaged. Simply hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Alternating by lifting one leg at a time increases the difficulty of this exercise.

Ball Exercises
Ball bridges, ball roll-outs and ball jacknifes are beginner and intermediate ab exercises that challenge your transverse abdominal muscles. If you're a beginner, do ball roll-outs on your knees. Place a ball in front of you and kneel. Place your forearms flat on the top of the ball and roll the ball forward until you can lean on it and make a straight line from your knees to your head and the ball under your chest. The ball should be a few feet from your knees. Roll the ball forward as you extend your arms. Exhale as you do so. Inhale and roll the ball back under your chest. Start with two sets of 10 reps and work up to three sets.

Ball bridges are done by lying face up on a ball. Put the ball under your shoulders and neck with your feet flat on the floor directly under your knees. Your upper body is parallel to the floor. Place your hands on your hips. Without allowing the ball to roll forward, dip your hips down about halfway to the floor. Exhale and squeeze your abs and glutes as you lift back up to parallel to the floor. That is one repetition. Do the same number of sets as for the ball roll-outs.

Ball jacknifes are a more difficult exercise and should be done only after other exercises are mastered.

Seated Exercises
Transversus abdominis exercises that can be done seated include exercise include pelvic tilts and the drawing-in maneuver. These exercises are best for seniors, pregnant women or anyone who is having difficulty engaging their abdominal muscles. To do the pelvic tilt, sit up straight in a chair and place your back against the back of the seat. Your lower back should naturally curve while your hips and shoulders are flat against the chair's back. Tilt your pelvis by tucking your hips and engaging your ab muscles. Push your lower back flat against the chair and hold for five seconds. Release and allow your lower back to curve again. Do 10 repetitions.