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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.


Join The Conversation
Tati500 Tati500 9 years
PS I think I'll give Pilates a try
Tati500 Tati500 9 years
I love to excersice but I stiil get lower bak pain to the point where if Im laying down sometimes it's almost inpossible to get up
pip2 pip2 10 years
I love fit sugar I love to exercise but i alwau=ys feel like i am doing it wrong.
My-Opinion My-Opinion 10 years
Love this!!!
N-e-e-c-a-l-l-e N-e-e-c-a-l-l-e 10 years
I am loving fitsugar!
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 10 years
I love this!! FitSugar, you totally rock! I've been wondering of other ways to strengthen these muscles to help my back. This is a great one. Thank you so much. :)
EcannDallas EcannDallas 10 years
women's center of gravity is situated right at the TVA/deep abs so when these muscles are strong all activities become less stressful on the knees and back, and will help your endurance while exercising!
Fitness Fitness 10 years
To work your TVA/deep abs you gotta pull your belly in - like when you are zipping up your jeans in the morning, before they get all stretched out. As well as pulling your abs in to your spine, you want to feel them lift up toward you head. So try to create the sensation of "zipping" with your abs. Pull 'em up and in. Hope that helps you feel ab-alicious.
bluejeanie bluejeanie 10 years
another thing that's good is tilting your pelvis so your back is forced to be straight.
findblancomeow findblancomeow 10 years
i am not sure that i understand what fit means by "pulling" and "zipping"... :S
cravinsugar cravinsugar 10 years
This is a good tip. I have have a terrible lower back and feel like a slug after sitting at work all day. Now I can feel like I am workin it!
daltan daltan 10 years
i like this tip!
purplesugar purplesugar 10 years
me too blonde...I'll try to do this more while I'm at work.
BlondeSugar BlondeSugar 10 years
This is great info. I have such bad posture when I am sitting down. I need to suck my abs in more now
JessNess JessNess 10 years
THe one thing I really learned from Pilates was to always keep your core engaged so no matter what Im doing I always keep my abs sucked in
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