Pilates For Beginners (part two): the transverse abdominis

Happy Friday Beauties!

And welcome to part two of the Pilates For Beginners series.

If you’re just joining us you’ll want to check out:

Intro: Pilates…what it IS and IS NOT

Part One: neutral spine + basic hip mechanics

Today we’re talking all about the abs. Specifically, the transverse abdominis. You’ll often hear me refer to this muscle as the “TA.”

More often than not, when we think about working our abs we think about the “6 pack” muscles. We think that getting strong abs means flat abs and that flat abs equals a strong core.

Thinking of the abs in this way is like baking a cake and only adding the flour. That wouldn’t make much of a cake.

In the same way, only working on the “6 pack muscles” won’t make much of a strong core.

There are a handful of muscles that make up the core, and many would argue (myself included) that a strong core goes far beyond the abodminals because you can’t really separate the body into pieces, it all works together for strength, balance and function.

But to break it down, today we’re going to focus on the abdominals, and in particular the TA.

Why the TA? Because if you’re new to Pilates you may have never considered how this muscle works and how it can help you achieve core stability and abdominal strength. By learning to effectively engage this muscle, you will see results in a much shorter amount of time. It’s actually pretty incredible.

What is the TA?

The TA is deep core muscle that is primarily responsible for stabilization. The TA is an anterior and lateral muscle layer which means it is located on the front and side of the abdomen. Together, with the surrounding abdominal muscles it works to support the spine, pelvis and organs.


The TA fills the space from your 6th rib down to your pelvis. When you wrap your hands around your waist and cough or laugh, you may be able to feel the TA activate.

How to engage the TA…

I will go into more detail on this topic in today’s video. But a common image I use is to picture the TA like a corset around the waist. It draws in from 360 degrees to support the spine and pelvis. Of course, this image brings other muscles into play but it a great way to connect to your core and ensure that you are including the TA in your abdominal exercises.

If you are going through your ab routine and notice that you are pushing your belly forward or bulging out, you are most likely missing the TA connection. Doing ab work without the TA is not making the most of your time.


Focusing on this deep core muscle and learning to engage it throughout your workouts will bring better and fast results. The “6 pack” muscles will still get their work, don’t worry. But the good new is, when properly engaging your abdominals you only need to do a few repetitions to get good, quality work.

The TA is also an extremely important muscle to consider before, during and after pregnancy.

Gone are the days of 100 haphazard sit-ups. Working with precision, concentration and understanding of how your body works will  bring better results in a shorter amount of time.

Today’s workout is centered around engaging the TA in a variety of different exercises.


If you’re finding this series helpful I’d love for you to share it with your friends! You can easily pin the photos by clicking the “pin it” button on each image. Sign up for the program here!

Pilates For Beginners with @balanced_life_ is revealing the secret to strong abs. Gone are the days of 100 crunches! <— CLICK TO TWEET.



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7 thoughts on “Pilates For Beginners (part two): the transverse abdominis”

  1. These videos are really great! This should be required watching before any of the other series! Thank you. I felt the work before, but now it’s much tougher and I am sure more effective. I am enjoying them and want to recommend all my friends.

  2. Hi Robin! I’m really enjoying these videos! However, I’m not sure I know if I’m engaging my TA muscles. My “regular” abs feel tight and I know I’m working those but not sure I’m fully engaging the TA muscles.

  3. I am also a bit confused about how to engage the TA, some ppl said that you need ot pick up the pelvic floor to engage the TA, othres said that we need to cough in order to feel it I am confuse !!!!!!! also can you please tell if we do all the exersices in neutral spine ?????
    thank you very much,

    I really enjoy your videos your videos because of yuo I am looking for to work out every day : )

  4. katenicholls16

    Hi Robin,
    So glad to be doing these. Very helpful. Can really feel the work. As I am just starting out I am finding the breathing difficult and find myself inhaling when you are saying exhale!
    Do you advise doing each video for a week as that is how long there was between each video originally?
    For the first time in a long time I look forward to doing these.

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying these workouts, Kate! Great question. Now that all of these workouts are released and you have access to them, you can do them whenever you would like and however long you would like (depending on how long it takes you to get comfortable with them). I would recommend doing all of the beginner workouts in a week (i.e. Workout 1 on Monday, Workout 2 on Tuesday, and so on…) so that you can put the skills you learn in each workout into practice throughout all the videos! Repeat this weekly schedule as many times as necessary until you feel comfortable. We’re cheering you on, Kate! 🙂

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