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Transverse abdominis exercises can help target your inner core muscles.
Your core is the link between your lower and upper body. A strong core will make it easy for you to carry on most of your daily activities, including standing, sitting, picking things up, bending over, and exercising.
Your core muscles are deep within your back and abdominals, connecting to your pelvis or spine. Your core muscles include the transversus abdominis, oblique, and pelvic floor muscles.
Given that the core comprises many muscles, any abdominal or core exercises you include in your training could target a particular group of muscles but not all your core muscles.
That means we must be selective with our exercises if we intend to target a particular muscle.
Why transverse abdominis exercises
The ultimate goal of many fitness enthusiasts when it comes to building abs is to have six-pack abs. The most notable muscle many fitness enthusiasts concentrate on, in most cases, is the rectus abdominis, which is the top layer of your abdominal muscles, aka “six-pack” abs.
That means many forget or are not aware of the transversus abdominis.
The transversus abdominis is the innermost abdominal muscle, sometimes referred to as the “natural corset” of the body.
Building and strengthening the transversus abdominis is one of the routes to a solid core, reduced back pain, and your body’s ability to function as expected. That means incorporating transverse abdominis exercises into your fitness and abs training regimen
What are the best transverse abdominis exercises?
It is not very easy to isolate a particular muscle during your workout. But it is still possible to target any muscle with carefully selected exercises and how you perform them.
Because the transverse abdominis contracts when it pulls inward, the most effective exercises that can target and work the muscle are those stabilization exercises that involve holding your body in one position for some time. Such stabilization exercises may also require you to draw your abdominal muscles in or engage your core before going through a movement. (3, 4)
Best transverse abdominis exercises that can help target and strengthen your inner core muscles
Here are some of the best transverse abdominis exercises that can target your inner core muscles to help you build a stronger and solid core. Incorporate these into your abs exercises for a healthy lifestyle
Planks are good transverse abdominis exercises, but you can make them more beneficial by adding weights.
Adding weights or resistance to planks can help take your muscles through a full range of motion for better results.
You will need a dumbbell or weight plate for the exercise.
Steps to follow
- To do the weighted plank exercise, get into the plank pose. To do this, lie on your stomach and bend your arms by your sides. Place your hands under your shoulders and ensure your palms are flat on the floor.
- Lift your torso by pressing your palms into the floor and straightening your elbows. Your body should rest on your fully stretched arms and toes. Ensure your body, from your head to your feet, are in a straight line.
- Have a partner carefully plate the weight on your lower back.
- Hold the position for about 30 seconds or more and come out of the pose
Stability Ball Wrist Roll
Stability ball wrist rolls are one of the best transverse abdominis exercises for targeting your inner core muscles.
You will need an exercise ball for the movement.
Steps to follow
- Get into the forearm plank pose by resting your elbows on the exercise ball instead of the floor.
- Put your elbows under your shoulders and your palms together. Ensure your body is in a straight
- Using your wrist, slowly roll the ball in a circular motion.
- Aim to do a minimum of ten rows clockwise and another ten anticlockwise for a set and two sets to complete a session
Hand to Toe Touches
The hand-to-toe touches are one of the best transverse abdominis exercises that can also target your obliques and rectus abdominis.
The three muscles work together to help you lift things, bend, twist, and carry items. They are very vital for the day-to-day functioning of your body.
It is a bodyweight exercise, so you don’t need gym equipment. But you can use an exercise mat for comfort.
Steps to follow
- Lie on the exercise mat with your hands by your sides and bend your knees
- Lift your feet straight up and stretch your legs to make them perpendicular to the floor. Ensure there is a slight bend at your knees.
- Stretch your arms fully and point your fingers to your toes
- Brace your abs and raise your upper body and torso, and try to touch your toes with your fingertips. Note that there is no need to touch your toes with your fingers when you do the movement.
- Slowly return your upper back, torso, and arms to your starting position, but leave your legs pointing upwards.
- Repeat 10-15 reps for a set and up to 3 sets per session.
The dead bug is another effective exercise for strengthening your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques.
The dead bugs are transverse abdominis exercises for beginners that teach your core to brace while your legs and arms are in motion. It can also help protect your lower back from potential injury.
You can use the dead bugs transverse abdominis exercises to activate your core before your workout.
Ideally, you will need an exercise mat for the exercise.
Steps to follow
- Lie face up with your shoulders and lower back on the floor
- Extend your hands above you and toward the ceiling. Let your fists face each other.
- Lift your legs and form a 90-degree angle with your hips, knees, and feet.
- Take a deep breath and slowly lower your left arm and right leg. Stop just before the two (arm and leg) touch the floor.
- Breathe in and return your arm and leg to their starting positions in a slow and controlled manner.
- Repeat the process with the opposite arm and leg
- That will complete one rep
Hollow Body Holds
Hollow hods are good transverse abdominis exercises for testing your core strength.
It is a simple exercise but a very effective core training movement when done correctly.
Hollow body hold is one of the popular training exercises that can prepare you for many gymnastics moves, including the headstand.
- Lie on the floor with your legs together. Position your arms straight above your head.
- Engage your core and raise your legs about 12-18 inches from the floor.
- Lift your shoulders slowly from the floor, leaving only your lower back and hips touching the floor. Ensure you keep your back neutral and your chin slightly tucked in. Your body should form the shape of a banana if you get the form correct.
- Remain in the pose for 10-30 seconds, or longer if you can. Ensure your core stays engaged.
The abdominal vacuum is an isometric contraction of the transversus abdominis. The exercise can help you to take charge of your core muscles and prepare you for explosive lifts.
Add the abdominal vacuum to your ab workouts to help carve your midsection if you want the best transverse abdominis exercises for a smaller waist.
It is a simple but effective technique that can help give you the sculpted midsection you’ve been dreaming of.
Note: you must combine the exercise with other abs exercises, body composition exercises, and a healthy diet.
You can perform the exercise while standing, kneeling, lying, or seated.
Steps to follow
- To do the transverse abdominis exercises, stand upright with your hands on your hips.
- Exhale and push all air out of your lungs.
- Expand your chest, pull your stomach in as far as possible, and hold. In your mind’s eye, visualize your navel trying to move in to touch your backbone or spine.
- Hold the pose for as long as possible and release to complete a rep.
Single Leg Lowering
The Single leg lowerings are simple but effective transverse abdominis exercises for your abs
Steps to follow
- Lie with your back on the floor, hands by your sides, and extend your legs.
- Brace your core and raise your legs to form a 90-degree angle with your upper body. Ensure your feet are touching.
- Hold one leg and slowly lower the other leg and stop just before it touches the floor
- Then, without moving your back from the floor or bending your knee, swing your legs very quickly to change their positions.
- Repeat for up to a minute to complete a rep. Pause for 20 seconds and repeat
- Aim for 3 sets per session
The bird dog is a simple core exercise and one of the best transverse abdominis exercises for beginners that can strengthen your abdominal muscles, butt, lower back, and thighs.
Aside from beginners, the bird dog is suitable for older adults. It can help prevent injury, improve posture align your spine, and increase your range of motion.
Steps to follow
- Go on all fours into the tabletop position. Your hands must be under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Keep your knees a hip-width apart and your hands about shoulder-width apart and firmly on the ground
- Engage your abdominal muscles by maintaining a neutral spine.
- Raise one arm and point it straight ahead. At the same time, raise the opposite leg and extend it behind you. Your extended arm and leg should form a straight line. Your hips and shoulders must be parallel to the floor and your back must be straight. Ensure your abs stay engaged throughout.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds and return your hand and knee to the tabletop position.
- Switch sides and repeat the process
- Aim to complete 10 reps in total or 5 reps on each side.
Benefits of transverse abdominis exercises
The most important stabilizer of the core is the transverse abdominis. Thus incorporating transverse abdominis exercises, which can help strengthen your inner core muscles, in your abs and fitness training regimen has many benefits. Such benefits include
- Maintaining proper spine support
- Decreasing back pain
- improving the functioning of the pelvic floor
- Improving your posture
- Reducing the risk of injury
How to Activate the Transverse Abdominus
There are 2 effective ways to activate the transverse abdominis muscles to help improve the stabilization of your core.
Bracing is the isometric contraction of the muscles. It involves contracting your abdominal muscles and tightly holding them without any movement for 6 to 10 seconds. You then release and repeat many times
Bracing will contract the entire core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, and is generally the most effective of the 2 methods.
Hollowing involves sucking in and compressing your abdomen.
To perform the hollow, contract your abdomen and pull your navel in as far as possible towards your spine. Hold the position for 6-10 seconds, release and repeat.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Transverse abdominis exercises can help you target and build a solid core which can help improve your quality of life.
To get the most out of the transverse abdominis exercises, master the technique of bracing your core and be mindful of your breathing. Incorporate these into your training and you will see the change
- Joshua H You, Suhn-Yeop Kim, Duck-Won Oh, Seung-Chul Chon. 2014. The effect of a novel core stabilization technique on managing patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled, experimenter-blinded study. PMID: 24249843 DOI: 10.1177/0269215513506231. National Library of Medicine