Goodbye Spanks. Goodbye belly binders! Hellllllloooo to the muscle I never knew was there.
Most people don’t realize that your abs aren’t just the abs you see…the six pack is pretty much just a vanity muscle.
A vanity muscle we all love.
But fascinatingly enough, endless crunches can actually build bulk to your midsection. Why?
The Rectus Abdominis is a muscle that actually builds outward. Think washboard abs. Depending on your body fat percentage, did you know that your 6 pack can actually make you LOOK FATTER?
I know. I know. What the heck?
Ok, so think of it this way. A muscle is a muscle is a muscle. Yes, I meant to repeat it that many times. If you are working a muscle, you will have results eventually, slow or fast, but all dependent upon your eating lifestyle. <—notice: not diet. eating lifestyle.
So the higher your percentage of body fat, the more these abs are hiding. That’s why it’s always said, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” “you are what you eat,” and so on. When you are really making a physical effort to change your abdominal appearance by doing endless crunches, but your body fat is still higher than it should be, it can actually create bulk. Why? Well these washboard abs are hiding under that layer of fat.
Ever see a body builder that is so HUGE and muscular that his belly is actually sticking all the way out? It is possible to build this muscle too big.
SOOO if your body fat isn’t quite where you want it to be, there is HOPE!
There is a muscle that many people neglect entirely, because it is “out of sight, out of mind.” Yet it is one of the most important muscles in your body. It is the “corset” of muscles. Some have even referred to it as your “built in spanx!!!” It is the number one muscle you should start challenging.
The Transverse Abdominal Muscle!!!!
This muscle is located under the rectus abdominis. It is the deepest, innermost layer of all ab muscles.
So what does this muscle do?
- Well for one, it does the exact OPPOSITE of the rector abdominis. This muscle is a muscle that builds inward.
- It is your body’s natural lifting belt! It is what stabilizes your spine AND pelvis during lifting exercises, and even everyday movements.
- It is a muscle that runs horizontally across your abdomen. Any time you move your arms or legs, this muscle is right there assisting you, but it also is necessary to breath. It compresses your major organs, protecting them when you exhale.
- Its main job is to activate your core muscle system during body movement.
- BUT it also protects your NECK when you are doing core exercises by making sure your spine is in a neutral position. This is why your fitness instructors are always saying, “pull that belly button into your spine.”
- It is responsible for your overall posture, stabilization, and muscle balance.
- Ever get lower back pain? Many times, it can be from not engaging your tva.
Why you NEED to work this muscle?
The more you engage this muscle in day to day life, the stronger your entire body will be. Beginning any exercise with a strong TVA is a must. Rather than stressing your back and joints, it will move force more effectively and efficiently THROUGH the muscles. By engaging this muscle during a lifting exercise, you are actually reducing the vertical pressure on your spine, up to 40%.
Is your body fat relatively low, where you see some or maybe even a defined 6 pack? But you still have the infamous “POOCH?”
That is because so many people focus on crunches and exercises that are only working the rector abdominis. This muscle is crucial to flattening your belly, and by learning to engage and exercise it, you will say farewell to the “FOOPA.”
How do you begin to train your TVA?
In anything you do, you have the opportunity to engage your TVA. The most popular of movements, is the “vacuum.” Once you master this move, which is hard for those not used to “drawing their bellies inward,” you can really practice it anywhere at any time. I found this YOUTUBE video that explains it pretty easily.
Check out this great video by clicking HERE. Warning. This guy has some SERIOUS TVA muscles and it made me a little sick, but you will get the point.
Make sure you practice in front of a mirror, to make sure you are doing it correctly.
Once you feel you can do this with confidence, I challenge you to do it often. Try doing the vacuum while sitting in traffic, or watching tv. Start with 3 sets, holding for 5 seconds each, and increase this as your muscle strengthens.
I GAURENTEE YOU WILL SEE YOUR WAIST SHRINK AND YOUR BELLY FLATTEN.
Pair this with cleaner eating, minimal sugar intake, and plenty of water and you will see a total transformation.
To read a past post, helping to create a healthy by second nature lifestyle, click here.
If you’re not quite sure where to start in regards to food choices and eating cleaner, click here to see my typical grocery list.