Though the six-pack is a common abdominal focus for many women, the transverse abdominis can actually help your body to be agile, stronger and more powerful. The transverse abdominis, the deepest-lying abdominal muscle, acts as a corset around your midsection and is a significant component of the core. When it is strengthened properly, this muscle keeps your pelvis in proper alignment, leading to strong and balanced legs and feet. Scissor kicks are effective at strengthening the transverse abdominis.
Lie on your back on an exercise mat and extend your legs out in front of you. Support your pelvis by placing your hands under your buttocks, palms facing down. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine.
Engage your glutes and raise both legs off of the floor by approximately 6 inches. Keep both legs straight. Press your lower back into the floor.
Kick your legs; one leg rises by 2 to 3 inches while the other lowers by the same amount. Switch the position and maintain a continual movement so that the legs are fluttering. You should feel the work in your abdominal muscles. Continue the kicks for 30 to 60 seconds.
Perform a variation by moving the legs in a horizontal motion rather than vertical. Raise the legs 6 inches off of the floor. Bring the legs together and cross the right leg over the left and then the left leg over the right. Continue to alternate for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Keep the range of motion small, only raising and lowering the legs by 2 to 3 inches.
- Beginners should start slow and focus on form rather than time duration. Gradually increase the amount of time that you perform the scissor kicks as you become stronger.
- Maintain the abdominal engagement during the exercise to protect the lower back.
- Discontinue the exercise and consult a physician if you feel pain in your lower back, pelvis or hips.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.