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The Core Connection: Engaging Your TVA for Effective Weight Training


Understanding the role of your core, particularly the Transverse Abdominis (TVA), is a great way to maximize the benefits of your weight training routine. Engaging the TVA provides stability and strength, allowing you to perform exercises with proper form and reduce the risk of injuries. In this article, we'll explore why the TVA matters and provide simple techniques to engage it during your lifts.


Why is the TVA Important?

The TVA is a deep-lying abdominal muscle that acts like a natural weightlifting belt or corset. When activated, it wraps around your spine, providing stability and support for your lower back. This engagement creates a strong foundation for all your movements, enabling you to lift heavier weights (or kids... or dogs...) safely.


Techniques for Engaging the TVA:

  1. The Exhale Technique:

    • Before you start any lift, take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand.

    • As you initiate the lift, exhale through pursed lips, imagining you're blowing out candles on a cake. Alternatively, exhale while making a "shshshsh" sound. This action engages your TVA.

Example: Let's say you're performing a squat. Inhale deeply as you lower into the squat position. As you push back up, exhale forcefully to engage your TVA, maintaining stability throughout the movement.


  1. The Cough Method:

    • Stand tall and force a cough. Notice how your belly braced to manage the pressure of the coughing action. That is core engagement!

    • Hold this contraction throughout your lift, maintaining a consistent engagement of your TVA & exhaling slowly.

Example: When performing a dumbbell row, stand with a slight bend in your knees and hinge at your hips. Before lifting the weights, engage your core muscles, and maintain this engagement as you lift and lower the weights. If you're not sure you have engaged them properly, perform a little cough! Remember after you've engaged your core, KEEP BREATHING!


  1. The Pelvic Floor Connection:

    • Engage your pelvic floor muscles by imagining you're stopping the flow of urine midstream.

    • This action naturally activates the TVA.

Example: Prior to a deadlift, perform the pelvic floor connection, and then initiate the lift while keeping this engagement intact.


Engaging your TVA is like building a solid foundation for a house; it ensures stability and strength for all your weight training exercises. By incorporating these simple techniques into your routine, you'll not only enhance your performance but also reduce the risk of injuries. Remember, practice makes perfect, so be patient with yourself as you work on mastering these engagement techniques.


If you'd like help mastering your core engagement, reach out. I help clients in person & online to improve core activation & get stronger!


Happy lifting!

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