The Transverse Abdominis. The body’s natural girdle.

Don’t order the newest gut busting exercise contraption, even if it includes a free butt blaster when you “call now”!  Our divine Maker has already installed a very effective stomach flattener deep in your abdomen, and it is a muscle called the Transverse Abdominis.

The transverse abdominis (TVA) is a wide belt-like muscle that lies horizontally under all of your other abdominal muscles, and runs right across the front of your body.  This muscle lies deep, is not seen from the surface, and it also cannot be directly targeted with exercise equipment.  Because of this, it is usually overlooked by infomercials, and slides under the radar of many exercise programs, which is shocking because this muscle literally has the effect of a stomach flattening girdle when it contracts.

Here is a great way to get a feel for a TVA contraction.  Imagine yourself taking a “before and after” picture for weight loss plan.  When you totally relax your TVA your belly bulges out, making for a fantastic “before” picture.  Strongly contracting your TVA, pulls your belly button to your spine and flattens the stomach. Viola, you have an instant and impressive “after” picture!  This is called a stomach vacuum, and it makes your stomach look much flatter and your waist narrower.

A weak TVA has been linked to back pain, as it is a huge stabilizer of your spine.  Keeping this muscle strong will not only be appealing to the appearance of your waistline, but also will help you maintain a healthy back.  The best part of toning up this muscle is that you can do it as you read this article.  Let me explain how.

To work this muscle, simply suck your belly button to your spine and hold it there strongly.  While still breathing, maintain this contraction for several seconds, and repeat 10-15 times.  Maximal effort!  You can easily do multiple sets of this exercise, resting in-between.  This can literally be performed anywhere, and occur automatically when you take off your shirt or cover-up at the pool.  Suck it in!

Maintaining a TVA contraction is the part of many Yoga and Pilates programs, and is sometimes referred to as the “powerhouse”.  Exercising the TVA, gives it tone, strength, and much needed endurance.  Bodybuilders contract the TVA to make their waist look smaller, which makes everything else look bigger.

Much like the poor posture of rounded shoulders, out of weakness, laziness, or habit, people let their TVA continually relax and their belly bulges out.  While you certainly cannot walk around 24/7 with your gut maximally sucked in, you can maintain a postural contraction of this muscle, which will be appealing to your belly’s appearance, and do wonderful things for protecting your back from injury.

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