Work This Muscle for Tighter Looking Abs

Transverse Abdominus

Have you been doing hundreds of reps of situps and still can’t seem to get the flat, tight abs that you want? It may be time to give up the crunch for a different ab exercise.

There are four different ab muscles that make up what we generally call our core. The internal and external obliques which are the abs on the side of our bodies. There’s the popular rectus abdominus muscles that are the individual ab muscles of the sought after six pack. And then there is the one behind them all, the forgotten transverse abdominus. Although this ab muscle is not worked as often as the others, it just as important to creating that tight six pack look.

Transverse Abdominis Picture

People tend focus on the reps, and count how many crunches they can do, believing this will create the abs that they want. True, this method can lead to size and the extra reps can help burn calories, but if you really want to pull it all together you need to work your transverse abdominal.

This muscle wraps around your entire core. It helps keep your abdomen tight and strong.  Achieving that ab strength is actually really simple. It hinges on one simple ab exercise.

This move is often referred to as the vacuum exercise. It’s called that because, when performed correctly, it looks like the air is getting taken from your body, as if a vacuum is sucking it out of you. And at times it can feel like that. But once you get past that initial feeling (remember that you can breathe in at any time!), you relax into the exercise and learn to control the motion.

To perform this ab exercise in it’s simplest form follow the instructions below:

First, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent.

From this position, exhale fully and when you feel you have no air left to breathe, suck your navel in towards your spine and hold for up to ten seconds.

Then release gently. Take a couple of breaths and then repeat.

Focus on contracting your abs and generating a tight core. Although this is not an exercise that uses weight, you’ll still feel your core getting worked after a few repetitions.

Throw this exercise into any routine a couple of times a week. Once it gets too easy, try the cat vomit exercise and work the muscle from a different angle.

Be more mindful about your abs and start engaging the forgotten transverse abdominal muscle. You’ll be happy you remembered to!

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We're Alex & Tim Ruben. Former Division 1 college football athletes turned NASM Certified Personal Trainers specializing in HIIT and fat loss. We’re here to teach you everything you need to know about getting and staying fit in less than 20 minutes a day!