Whether or not you compete in a figure, bikini or physique competition, a small waist is always aesthetically appealing. It contributes to that “x” factor or the hour glass figure associated with a svelte womanly physique.
Due to genetics and bone structure, you cannot control the width of your waist from left to right (narrow iliac crest or hip width) but, you can train for a slimmer waist from front to back.
In my case from the front view, I am as square as a brick. And, in the last season of competing, I found myself waist deep in a dilemma… my midsection from front to back was really developed…. more so than I wanted! Leading up to a figure competition last season, I was told I had a “very developed core.” My abs developed “out” more than they had developed “in.” Having a naturally square body type with a “very developed core” left me far from the smaller waisted, X factor look I wanted and was so important when competing in a figure or bikini competition.
Some Ab Anatomy
As shown in the ab anatomy image above, there are the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis (deepest). When your external obliques and rectus abdominis gain size, your waist can appear wider or rounder than you may desire. The key is to control the deeper abdominal layers to achieve a smaller waist line.
Transverse Abdominal Muscle
The transverse abdominal muscle (TVA) is the deepest of the ab muscles and is also known as the corset muscle because it creates hoop tension around the waist pulling in what would otherwise be protruding out. It not only helps that waist line look trimmer but, it helps to stabilize the low back and pelvis as well.
The #1 Best Transverse Abdominal Exercise
Any core exercise that pulls in the belly button is most likely activating the TVA muscles but the best TVA exercise is known as the abdominal drawing-in maneuver (ADIM). Get a load of Frank Zane over here who made the vacuum pose famous. He is utilizing the TVA muscles to achieve this posture.
How to do an ADIM:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat.
- Exhale and raise your diaphragm, pull your belly button in and toward your spine.
- Try to get your belly button all the way to your back. Hold for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat. Start with 5-10 sets and work over time up to holding sets longer.
Tips: Place an object over your belly button and attempt to lower the object as much as you can. The ADIM exercise is different from flexing your abs because your stomach stays the same size and just tightens when flexing. When performing the ADIM exercise, you want to pull in and reduce the size of your waist.
Check out this video on how to activate your transverse abs for a stronger core and slimmer looking waist:
Once you have mastered the supine ADIM, try it on all fours working against gravity. Check out this video showing a quadruped ADIM progression. First master the ADIM on all fours before moving on to lifting the arms and legs up.
Strong TVA’s create sexy waistlines and stable cores!
… but don’t forget to be good in the kitchen… you won’t be able to see any inkling of the results from these ADIM exercises if your snacking on Twinkies all day!
Featured image by Kai York