The Transverse Abdominis, also known as the TVA, is the muscle layer that is the innermost section of the abdomen, located behind your obliques and abdominal cavity. It is composed of muscle fibers that form at the inguinal ligament and rise up to the iliac crest, behind the lower ribs, ending behind the middle of one’s abdomen. Its main purpose in the body is to help strengthen the core and provide stability for one’s thoracic (chest) and pelvic area.
With its location on the body being noted, I next would like to discuss why it is important to train this muscle group properly and effectively. The TVA is the muscle that is located behind your abdominal muscles that most people refer to as a 6-pack and it is responsible for preventing your abdomen from protruding. The TVA, when strengthened and trained properly, will pull your abdominal muscles inwards, acting like corset – that’s a piece of clothing that wraps tightly around the waist to make the stomach look smaller – and helps prevent that gut look we see in some steroid users who have thick abdominal muscles.
A flat belly with proper transverse abdominis training is often the main goal of most who train this core muscle, as aside from a proper diet and low body fat, training your TVA will help make your stomach and waistline pull inwards and make you look smaller and thinner around the abdominal area.
Exercises to Train the TVA
Although there are many different exercises you can perform for abs, not all will have an impact on your TVA and pulling your abdomen inwards giving you that leaner and tighter stomach look. However, there are some exercise you can incorporate into your workout to help with this muscle training, with a few being:
For this exercise, which can performed bending over or standing upright, one will draw in his/her stomach inwards, towards the spine, as if you are trying to make your bellybutton reach the back of your body, and by holding this position for few seconds before releasing and repeating.
For this exercise, you will lay on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and feet located about 1-2 feet behind your buttocks. Next, you will place your hands on your abdomen, while keeping your back on the ground. Draw your lower abdomen into your body, as if you are trying to make it touch the floor you are laying on. This will tighten your stomach muscles.
Next, while still holding your stomach inwards and tighten, raise your middle off the ground until only your feet and your upper back/shoulders are on the ground. Keep squeezing the keeping the tension on your abs and hold this position for 10-20 seconds, while still breathing normally and not holding your breath. Release, rest for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 5 repetitions.
Start once again with your back on the floor, with lower back flattened to the ground. If this is difficult you can put your hands flat under the glutes. Straighten out legs, and using a controlled movement, kick up and down, each leg alternatively. The straighter the leg, the harder the abdominals are working.
These are just a few exercises to help with training the TVA, but they are also the most effective exercises. It is also important to note that one should not train this muscle group every day in order to see results. Instead, aim to train your TVA 1-2x a week, just as you would train any other muscle group. Hope this gives you better insights on how to not only train your TVA and what it is, but also how to achieve a tighter and smaller stomach. Enjoy your workouts!