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Exercises for The Transverse Abdominals
By Donovan Baldwin
It is unfortunate when you consider how much energy many people put into the attempt to get a flat stomach fast, but a group of
muscles that often gets neglected in stomach exercise routines are the transverse
abdominals. These are the abdominal core muscles that lie below the rectus
Most common abdominal exercises, such as the ever-popular crunch, target the rectus abdominus and the vertical
abdominals, ignoring the transverse abdominals.
Unfortunately, crunches, the "go to" exercise of most abdominal workouts, don't really do anything for the transverse abdominals. In fact, these muscles are possibly the most important to target, however, as they form a connection between the lower back muscles and the rectus abdominus and provide a girdle of potentially powerful muscle for the entire abdomen.
Any workout routine aimed at flattening the stomach must include exercises that target the transverse abdominals.
All your effort trying to get a flat stomach is going to be worthless unless you specifically exercise this major abdominal muscle group. Using the following exercises, you can work out your transverse abdominals and really make progress on getting that flat, hard stomach you've been wanting for so long.
As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.
So, let's discuss exercises that target the transverse abdominals.
Pelvic Tilts for the Transverse Abdominals
Start this stomach exercise lying on your back on a flat surface, such as on the floor or a bench. Using an exercise mat, or towel to cushion your spine, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor close to your buttocks. Raise your pelvis (and only your pelvis) off the floor, hold momentarily, and then lower it back down. Repeat for an entire set (Start with a set of ten if possible.
With time you will be able to do more.
NOTE Do NOT use a standard yoga mat for these exercises unless you pick one designated as "extra-thick". Many yoga mats are only 1/8 inch thick and will not provide the cushioning and "give" you need for these exercises. If you cannot find a good exercise mat in your area, or just don't want to fight traffic and other shoppers, you can find some really good ones at Wai Lana Yoga. Make sure you get the extra thick mats. At the Wai Lana Yoga website, just click the "Yoga" tab, and, on the next page, click the "Yoga and Pilates Mats" tab.
Maintaining a controlled movement is crucial to the success of this transverse abdominal exercise. Maintaining smooth control throughout the movement will allow you to use your abdominal muscles, rather than your body's momentum, to do the work on the exercise. Also, be sure to keep your upper body on the floor throughout.
This stomach flattening exercise is pretty simple but can also be
fairly difficult at first. Essentially, it involves trying to pull the
belly button in towards the spine. This can be tricky, as it involves
using abdominal muscles which you may not be accustomed to activating.
To start the Crunchless Crunch, either lie on your stomach or kneel. You might want to try both ways a few
time and see which helps you perform the exercise better. Relax your
body as much as possible, then try to use only the lower abdominals to
move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If
holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. The goal
is to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it, or you feel
other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you
feel this, let the contraction out.
This exercise, by the way, is well known to those who practice yoga.
This stomach exercise which is well-remembered by anyone who, like me, has ever endured army physical training, also requires lying on the floor...preferably with a thick exercise mat.
Position your hands under your butt, keeping your back pressed against the floor. Slowly raise one leg to a height of about ten
inches, then slowly lower it back to the floor. As your lower one leg, raise the other. Repeat this motion for an entire set. Maintaining
control throughout is important, not allowing momentum to get the better of you. Your upper body should remain on the floor through the
entire move. With a little practice, you will be able to stop the descending foot just above the floor before you start it back up.
An alternative torture that Drill Sergeants liked to call "Hello Dolly" (Those who didn't have a theatrical background called it the "Dolly Parton"), was usually done right after the previous exercise. I don't know what abdominal muscles they targeted, but they HURT!
After doing enough Scissor Kicks to put you in a hospital, the Drill Sergeant would have you keep your legs elevated a few inches above the ground. Then, you had to open and close your legs...over, and over, and over...
Sorry, got carried away...anyway...to continue with the Scissor Kicks...
Your first few times doing them, it may seem like it is easy to knock out several of these, but be cautious and work up.
There are many other exercises which target the transverse abdominals, but these three ought to be enough to get you started. Stomach exercises like these are key to any tummy-flattening plan, and they are especially good for pregnant and post-partum women.
Last word: Don't concentrate on one exercise. Rotate through them or do a couple one day, and others the next time you work out.
Find more exercises for the transverse abdominals at How to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat.
About the Author:
Donovan Baldwin is a freelance
writer residing in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area, and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from
the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However,
his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health, and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine
these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, weight lifting, yoga,
weight loss, the environment, global warming, happiness, self improvement, and life. His
blog on Senior Health and Fitness can be found at Fitness-After-40.ws.