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The Skinny On: Deep Abs

Did you know that the Transversus Abdominis (don’t be intimidated by the religious sounding Latin) is the most important muscle for stabilizing when lifting, walking, or just being you? Unfortunately, it also tends to be super weak. So if you rarely exercise, sit for prolonged periods of time, have poor posture, have low back pain or all of the above, you need to strengthen your deep abs. If you want the skinny on your deep abs,

The Transversus Abdominis, or the TVA as I like to abbreviate it, is the deepest of your four abdominal muscles and it sits right on top of your viscera, your guts. Essentially, it fills in the space between your lowest rib (the 12th) and your pelvis, connecting your pubic bone to your 6th rib. It has lateral fibers that wrap around your waist – hence the term transversus.

The TVA shares fibers with the diaphragm. So when you force breath out of your lungs and pull your low belly toward your spine, you’re activating your TVA. When engaged, the TVA decreases the diameter of your waist (always a bonus!), flattens your belly (double bonus!!) and creates a bit more space between the vertebrae in your low back. It’s kind of like a muscular corset.

The TVA tends to be lazy, so you have to remind it to work. The act of pulling your navel to your spine as you exhale will activate your transversus. While exhaling, also create the sensation of "zipping" up your abs, from your pubic bone up to your belly button. This should give you the sensation that your lower abs are smiling. So don’t just pull your abs to your spine, smile them to your spine.

Fit's Tip: While working out, take advantage of every exhale to work your TVA.


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