How To Properly Engage Your Transverse Abdominis Muscle

By: Robert Lim, PTA

The goal of this article is to show you how to properly engage your Transverse Abdominis Muscle.  The transverse abdominis muscles are your inner abdominal muscles.  They lay behind the rectus abdominis and the oblique muscles. They help to support the back, aid in posture, and help with deep breathing in heavy lifting. The transverse abdominis muscle is often not effectively trained and forgotten about when doing abdominal exercises. However, strengthening the transverse abdominis will help develop your overall core and abdominal muscles.  These muscles give you more power and help reduce back pain when performing the most simple to complex tasks.

JOI illustration of the Transverse AbdominisImage of Man doing Transverse Abdominis Exercises. 

JOI Will Show You How to Properly Engage Your Transverse Abdominis Muscle:

Lie on your back or side with your spine in a neutral posture, (gentle curve in your low back).

Try the following connect cues to produce a deep, isolated contraction of TrA:

· Imagine a line that connects the inside of your two pelvic bones (front of hips).

· Contract your pelvic floor by drawing the muscles from behind your pubic bone to your tail bone and the left and right sides of your pelvic floor together. Then, like a draw string bag or zipping a zipper, gently draw the entire pelvic floor up.


· In side-lying - gently lift your lower belly up away from your pubic bone

No movement of your hips, pelvis or spine should occur as you gently connect to TrA. If you palpate your belly just inside the left and right hip bones, this deep contraction should feel like a light, deep tension under your fingertips, not a contraction that pushes your fingers out.

Hold the contraction for 3 - 5 seconds and then release. Remember to breathe throughout this exercise. Repeat the contraction and hold for 3 sets of 10 repetitions 3 - 4 times per day for 4 weeks. Make sure throughout every contraction you are not holding your breath.  

Related Articles

If you want to learn more about your spine go to:  low back pain and lower back anatomy and low back pain

JOI Physicians and JOI Rehab both offer Telehealth Services.  JOI MD's are currently offering ASAP Injury and Fracture Appointments. For JOI Rehab appointments, please call 904-858-7045.   If you have an acute back injury, we have a Fast Track Spine Program to get you into rehab quickly. 

For more information on different core stabilization you may follow the link to this page.  If you would like to know more about the transverse abdominis or if you would like to book an appointment you may call at 904-JOI-2000, schedule online or click BOOK AN APPOINTMENT  below. 

Back and Neck Specialists

Book an Appointment


Skip to content