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What is the Best Exercise for the Transverse Abdominals?

By Lynne Shaw

Your transverse abdominis muscle is important to the health of your spine, organs and postural stability. It is your deepest abdominal muscle and responsible for minimizing the circumference of your waist. You can learn one main muscle contraction to keep it strong, and then apply that to different positions.

Wall Abdominal Compressions

Wall abdominal compressions can help you become aware of your transverse abdominis muscle. Lean your back against a wall and step your feet forward enough to slightly bend your knees and slide your back down the wall about 6 inches. Straighten your spine and shoulders. Place your palms on your stomach. Inhale and relax your abdomen forward. Exhale, leaving your hands on your stomach, and compress your stomach inward and away from your hands. Feel this abdominal compression secure your spine to the wall. Continue to coordinate your breathing and compressions eight to 15 times.

Kneeling Abdominal Compressions

You may prefer the kneeling position. Kneel down and sit your buttocks on your heels. Place your hands on top of your thighs. Straighten your spine. Do not arch your lower back. Inhale and relax your abdominal wall outward. Exhale and compress your abdomen and ribs in toward your spine. Exhale and relax. Inhale and compress. Repeat the coordinated breathing with abdominal compressions eight to 15 times.

All Fours

The same exercise can be done on all fours. Kneel on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Keep your head neutral and your spine straight. Inhale and relax your stomach downward. Exhale and contract your transverse abdominis muscle upward toward your spine. Continue to inhale and relax, exhale and compress eight to 15 times. After learning this abdominal compression technique on all fours, you can multitask your body by performing other exercises like back extensions. Stay on all fours and keep your stomach compressed for spine support. Raise your right arm and your left leg to parallel the ground. Inhale and raise your leg and arm up and down three times. Exhale as you do three more repetitions. Continue to inhale for three and exhale for three. Do 15 repetitions on each side. You are working opposing muscle groups -- back extensors and transverse abdominis.

Pilates Belly Scoops

Lie on your back with your arms stretched straight up by your ears and your legs straight together. Inhale and relax your abdomen. Exhale and compress your abdomen in toward your spine. Continue eight to 15 times. Next, as you exhale slowly, reach your arms forward toward your thighs and roll up your torso off the mat. Don't hunch your shoulders. A gentle "C" curve of the spine is correct. Inhale as you roll back down. Exhale as you roll up and watch your abdomen compress downward. This motion will work your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

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