woman stretching in a yoga class

This Muscle Will Get You Through Long Hours in Front of a Computer

If you’re anything like us, the thought of going back to work or school amid a pandemic is enough to make your back ache. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: sitting in an upright position for hours on end, eyes glued to a screen is not fun nor is it healthy. If you’re working a part- or full-time job that has you tied to a desk, chances are you could potentially even hinder your fitness progress.

At Fitness World, we encourage our community to see challenges as opportunities for expansion and today, we’ll show you how to make the best of this situation. The solution we suggest is a lot more enjoyable than a Zoom class or meeting and it has everything to do with your abs — the Transverse Abdominus (TVA) to be more precise.

What is the TVA?

Everyone wants a six-pack, but few people know that the TVA is the hidden muscle behind achieving sought-after washboard abs. The deepest of the abdominal group, the TVA is responsible for activating the core and stabilizing the lower back, as well as the pelvis whenever we move.

Take a quick pause right now to feel the transverse muscle.

Lie on your back, place your hands on your belly and take a deep breath. At the end of your next exhale, intentionally draw your belly in a little deeper and look for a gentle contraction. That’s it.

How can the TVA Make Online Learning or Working Easier on Your Body?

It helps to think about the TVA as the body’s natural corset, which wraps the entire circumference of your torso, from the top of your pelvis to the lower part of your ribcage. This means that strengthening your TVA will improve your posture, and eliminate back tension, so you can power through classes without pain.

In addition to good posture, training this muscle will reduce “’email apnea,” a term used to describe that moment when you unconsciously hold your breath while working. It happens more often than you think and while subtle, this habit is enough to disrupt oxygen flow and rev up your stress hormones.

Working your TVA forces you to engage in belly-based, diaphragmatic breaths. It’s a mental and physical switch that will make it easier to catch yourself next time you’re experiencing “email apnea.”

How To Train Your TVA?

The short answer: take full breaths and perform activation movements that focus on hollowing out your belly and drawing your belly button in toward your spine.

If it sounds easy, that’s because it is. Here are three key exercises that will wake up these deep core muscles for better posture and more toned abs:

  1. Good-ole-fashion planks.

Instead of going through the motion, get set into your plank by concentrating on drawing your belly button towards your back and rotating your pelvis. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds and repeat at least 10 times.

  1. Hollow-body holds.

Sit on your mat looking straight ahead, extend your legs and raise your arms above your head, close to your ears. Engage your abs, press your low back into the floor, and lift your legs off the ground. To maintain this posture, tense your whole body, pointing your toes and squeezing every muscle from head to toe. Your body should be shaped like a banana. Hold for 30 seconds and increase the time as you grow stronger.

  1. Deadlift variations.

Any type of deadlift will actually activate your TVA, but for maximum results, try unilateral deadlifts like the single-leg version. Grab your dumbbells and start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge at your hips, the knees should be slightly bent and make sure to keep your back flat while pushing your butt all the way back. To stand back up, push through your heels and pause at the top. Complete three rounds of 15-20 reps.

Work With an Expert and Learn All the Secrets

Take a break from studying or working to train your body and clear your mind. Sign up for a Fitness World membership and choose from a wide variety of classes. You can also work with one of our friendly personal trainers. Not only can we guarantee you’ll have fun, but you’ll also learn more tips and tricks to stay fit while juggling a hectic school and work schedule.

And because accountability plays a huge role in achieving your fitness goals, we invite you to join our Instagram community and get your daily dose of motivation.