Is there a difference (in terms of which muscles are activated) if you pull your belly up and in as opposed to just pulling it in? In other words does the “up” do something different?

I use “up and in” because these actions help coordinate the pelvic floor elevation along with the transverses abdomius (TA) which is what we are trying to get back, since this is how the muscles should fire normally but have often stopped doing so due to childbirth, poor posture, etc.

As far as our abdominal muscles go, there is a clear difference between the transversus abdominus and the rectus abdominus and their functions.

In a nut shell, contraction of the rectus abdominus does definitely increase our intra abdominal pressure and press down on the pelvic floor. The transversus abdominus, however, tightens around our thoracolumbar region acting more like a vacuum or a compression stocking. If you perform a 2-step Kegel and tighten your sphincter muscles and then elevate your pelvic floor, you will feel your TA draw in with the elevation of your pelvic floor. Put your hand on your belly button and you will feel it draw away from your hand when you do the lift and hold. Once you become proficient at contracting your TA before overhead lifting, reaching, etc, you will feel the same connection to your pelvic floor. It will elevate as you engage your TA muscle.

Bottom line, you never want to see your belly pooch out when you contract the muscles. If you do, it’s the rectus abdominus being engaged. Instead, you always want to see your belly draw in when you contract muscles. When you do, you will know that you have activated your transversus abdominus.

Published by Tasha


  1. Is it safe to use your video during pregnancy? I have an anterior vaginal wall relaxation. I am currently 26 weeks into 2nd pregnancy.

  2. Do the hab-it exercises work post hysterectomy for prolapse, (rectocele)?

  3. Jill,
    The hab-it dvd is safe to do throughout your pregnancy with appropriate guidance. Since I cannot be with all of you while you are performing the exercises, I have written up a pregnancy exercise program. We haven’t uploaded this on our website yet (It is coming soon with videos to follow as well), but if you email me directly at, I will email you the pdf file.


  4. Robbie,
    Yes, we have had several post-hysterectomy users and the dvd is a great tool. Not only will it help to strengthen your pelvic floor, but it will also help to stabilize your lower back, pelvis, and hips and prevent future instability/pain/dysfunction.


  5. Hi Tasha,

    just wondering about your thoughts on compression garments immediately post partum to help heal diastasis recti? do you feel it would help heal the connective tissue? Would the compression increase intra-abdominal pressure and create issues for the pelvic floor? I feel it should be coupled with exercise of course…


  6. Kim, you are right on when you say it has to be coupled with exercise. The perfect exercise for diastasis recti is activation of your TA, which is of course, a focus for pelvic floor recovery as well.

    My nod to the compression garment would depend on the pressure it creates. you will have to try them out to see, but you want more pressure down low around your hip bones, with gradually less pressure extending up towards your ribs. Initially wearing the appropriate compression all day is fine, but when you are ready (within weeks), you want to begin to spend some time without the compression to work voluntary TA activation. You don’t want to get caught in a cycle of TA weakness because of the constant assistance.

    Let me know if I have been clear enough on this answer.

  7. I just want to share my experience w/ a compression garment. After my first baby, I had about a 3 fingerwidth diastasis. Someone recommended I try an abdominal binder. I didn’t try it until about 8 weeks postpartum. After the first day wearing it, I felt like my diastasis was much improved. The second day wearing it, I went for a walk. It was during that walk that I felt something “bulge” and when I got home discovered my prolapse. I truly think that if I had never worn the garment, I would have never prolapsed. I could be wrong. I really wish I had heard of the Hab-it DVD and this blog to help with strenghtening the TA back then! I am constantly finding good information in past posts. After my second baby, I still had a diastasis. I may always have it to some degree, but stopping crunches and working on TA activation has really helped. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.