Just about every man hopes to achieve a sculpted 6-pack, but very few are able to achieve this impressive feat. This article isn’t going to rehash the same, tired advice that you’ve heard before: lose body fat to make your abs show. Instead, I’m going to show you the seldom-exercised muscle that can unlock your potential for a ripped core.
When you think of 6-pack abs, you’re actually picturing a muscle called the rectus abdominis. The real issue that people have when trying to improve their physique is that they only focus on this one muscle. To truly craft an impressive set of abs, you’ll need to work out a muscle called the transversus abdominis.
What is the Transversus Abdominis?
Chances are you’ve never heard of this muscle. While it may not be as prominent as the rectus abdominis or obliques, it may actually be the most important muscle in the abdomen. This muscle is located much deeper than other muscles and it wraps around the core like a corset.
The transversus abdominis is responsible for some of the most vital functions of any muscle in the body. Its primary function is to provide support and stability for the core. From your spine to your abs, it’s the transversus abdominis that really determines strength.
In addition, it cinches in the abdomen. Men with the most impressive physiques tend to have extremely narrow and tight cores. This is because they have dedicated time and effort to strengthening the transversus abdominis. The perfect example was Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, as he managed to have a narrow stomach despite his massive musculature.
Why is It Important for Getting a 6-Packet?
As I stated above, most people make the mistake of focusing on the rectus abdominis to develop the coveted 6-pack. If your core work consists only of sit-ups and leg raises, you’re definitely ignoring the transversus abdominis.
In these cases, it is common for one’s abs to be strong but look average. You may find that your abs appear to be “floating” in soft-looking flesh. By training the transversus abdominis, you’ll taper your midsection and make your abs much more prominent.
How to Strengthen the Transversus Abdominis
Training other core muscles, like the rectus abdominis and obliques, is a fairly straightforward procedure. You simply provide resistance (or allow gravity to do the work for you) and contract the muscle. But contracting the transversus abdominis is a much trickier proposition. After all, how can you contract a muscle that wraps all the way around your body?
Luckily, there are many ways to give your transversus abdominis a great workout. There are two main types of exercises that work the muscle: stabilization and contraction.
As the transversus abdominis serves the purpose of stabilizing the body, any exercise which requires balance and structural support will do the trick. Exercises like planks, for example, are perfect choices to strengthen this important muscle. Another great choice is the “hollow body” hold. To perform this exercise, simply lie flat on your back with your arms extended above your head. Lift your feet, arms, head, and shoulders a few inches off the ground to activate the transversus abdominis.
Unlike other muscles, the transversus abdominis can’t be worked by crunching in one direction. Instead, you’ll need to pull in your abdomen. The best way to do this is a technique called the “stomach vacuum.”
To perform the stomach vacuum, sit or kneel with your back straight. Exhale completely; you can’t have any air in your lungs for this to work. After you’ve exhaled, suck your abs in as much as possible. You should feel an intense pull on your stomach.
Working the Transversus Abdominis is Not a Magic Pill
Exercising this muscle is a powerful way to forge a well-defined set of abs. However, you can’t ignore the fundamentals of core work. Train the other core muscles (rectus abdominis, obliques, and serratus) and work on lowering body fat in order to truly bring out your 6-pack.
That being said, working this key abdominal muscle will give you results that you won’t believe. It’s a highly effective way to not only achieve a lean, aesthetic physique, but also become stronger and healthier.
Given the fact that the transversus abdominis can make you stronger, more stable, and make your 6-pack pop, why wouldn’t you start training it?
Image Credits: Getty Images, Pixabay