Mysterious Transversus. Part I

Mysterious Transversus

 What you need to know about your deepest abdominal muscle.

The abs/core/waistline/belly is the number one trouble spot for almost everyone. If I ever delivered a personal training session without focussed abdominal work I likely wouldn’t be hired back.

Why? Because almost every person I encounter wants a flat stomach and believes that a killer abdominal workout is the way to get there, however they do not understand the true function of the core muscles. It’s all a big mystery to most, and even many personal trainers do not have a full understanding.

Here is what you need to know for a gorgeous and functional midsection.


Deep Abs

Last week I hosted an amazing educational core training event for my fitness team. We brought in an expert physiotherapist who specializes in the pelvic and abdominal areas. We enjoyed an in-depth look at the deep abdominal muscles. And I really mean in depth…she brought an ultrasound machine and we were able to see the real-time actions of the deep core muscles.

We spent most of the time looking at the Transversus Abdominis (TVA) because of it’s importance in flattening the abs and stabilizing the spine.

Here are the first 7 things you MUST know about the transversus abdominis muscle for optimal performance and a great physique:

Where to find TVA

  1.  The walls of the abdomen have no bony reinforcements. They are made of three flat layered sheet-like muscles, the TVA makes up part of the lateral or side wall.
  2. TVA is a flat muscle.
  3. TVA are paired, one on each side.
  4.  They are deep. Don’t bother lifting up your shirt and looking for them in the mirror. They are buried under the three other abdominal muscles (Internal and external obliques and the fascia of the rectus abdominis), and likely  some of that excess unwanted tissue (fat).
  5. TVA starts (origin) at the back near the spine and ends (insertion) in the front by blending fibres with the other deep abdominal muscles in a common flat tendon-like sheet.
  6.  The muscle fibres run horizontally (hence the name transversus) from back to front around the waist. (Note: Your 6-pack muscles run vertically from chest to pelvis)
  7.  To feel TVA place two fingertips on your front hip bones, then move two finger widths in and two finger widths down. If you poke a relaxed TVA it will feel soft and mushy, a contracted TVA feels taught.

Can you find yours? Can you feel your TVA turn on and off? Stay tuned for Part II: Activation of the deep abdominal muscles.

Happy Training, 



Author: Shari Zisk

Shari Zisk B.A., has been a fitness professional for over 20 years. She was born, raised and spent most of her fitness career in British Columbia, Canada. She now lives in the United States splitting time between Los Angeles and Atlanta. Shari writes full time about how to sweat, nourish and glow!

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