Core Connection 4 – The Key to a Flat Stomach



It’s hard to believe the fourth video in the Core Connections video series is already here. I'm surprised because I’ve been so eager to share these connections with you for so long and the series is finally complete! That and the fact that it’s also mid-October already; how did that happen!?

The focus of today's video is your deep abdominal support belt, also known as your transverse abdominis, or TA.

Activating and strengthening your TA can help you:

  • Avoid back pain
  • Stabilize the spine so you can lift more weight safely (children, groceries, barbells, etc.)
  • Avoid hurting yourself during slips, or stumbles
  • Have the appearance of a flatter stomach

Your TA is your innermost abdominal muscle. It connects to your spine and wraps around to the front of your body. It also attaches to your lower 6 ribs and to the top of your entire pelvis.

Your TA stabilizes your spine and pelvis, and lifts and supports your internal organs. When it engages, it lightly flattens and spreads across the low belly.

Your TA is another connection that responds well to imagery. In this video, I use the image of a smile. But there are many more images that work well to help you connect with your TA.

If this video resonates with you, or if there is another image for finding your TA that you like, I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below the video.

I hope you've enjoyed the Core Connections video series; I had a blast making it and look forward to doing more videos like this!

See you in the studio,



I’m here to help you get stronger and more flexible through alignment-based restorative exercise so you can enjoy all the activities you love in life. You can work with me in two convenient ways: digitally through the Pilates Tonic Online membership or personally with in-person Restorative Movement Sessions.

14 Responses

  1. Sydney, This video series has been great! You have such a gift for presenting this instruction in a visual, memorable way. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much! Just got a new client this week. While I’m doing the assessment and warm up, she’s chomping at the bit to get on the reformer. She’d had some experience in studios and with Pilates videos. She commented that her legs were strong and she needed heavier springs – at this point I tried to educate. Also blows out her belly and kept referring to her “scoop”. I continued to try and educate her. Your article and video could not have come at a better time. I’m going to pass this on to her. Thank you so much!

  3. I sometimes tell my clients to suck on their thumb and feel how the pelvic floor muscles pull up….or have them contract the same muscles that stop the flow of urinination…also I have the client in a supine bent knee position and have them place their index and middle fingers deep beside their ais and lift their pelvic floor making sure the outer layer of the abs don’t contract…they should feel their ta…..
    thanks for the great articles….Happy Day

  4. What if you actually feel back pain accompany this contraction? I lllooove the imagery here, but I’m finding that I feel TA contractions (especially when on the floor with leg lifts) are accompanied by some back pain.

    1. Hi Cory, If you’re feeling back pain when connecting your TA try using less intensity, or effort, when making the connection. Also, Make sure there is no force with your exhale and that your exhale is coming from the back of your throat, with a soft jaw and open teeth. If you’re feeling back pain more with your leg lifts, you want to work on your psoas connection. This video explains the psoas in more detail. And this video shares a tip to help you more easily connect your psoas. Thanks for your question and feedback!

  5. Love your teaching style, you are very talented!
    Should I engage the pelvic floor/kegal exercise while doing this TA exercise?

    1. Thanks for your feedback Crystal! When everything is in working order the pelvic floor will co-activate automatically with the multifidus and TA, so I don’t usually ask for more pelvic floor activation.
      Try it out though and see what you think. Try the exercise in this video then add the TA Smile and see if you feel like you need to add more pelvic floor activation. I’d love to hear how it goes!

  6. This is a great video. I’m currently working with a PT on TA activation. While doing the exercise from this video, on the 2nd exhale while trying to make the TA smile bigger the inside of my right ribs/ breastbone cramped like crazy. I’ve never had a muscle cramp there before. Have you ever experienced this? Did I do the exercise wrong? I really felt like I was doing it right.

    1. Hi Lisa, You may have been giving too much effort, which is super common! On a scale of 1-10, you want your effort level during this exercise to be a 4 or 5. A light exhale from the back of your throat and an open jaw is the most helpful for making this connection. I’d also recommend propping up your head, neck and shoulders, as demonstrated in this video. And finally, here’s another technique for finding the TA using completely different imagery. Thanks for your question and hope this helps!

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