The effect of core exercises on transdiaphragmatic pressure

Lisa M. Strongoli, Christopher L. Gomez, J. Richard Coast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Abdominal exercises, such as sit ups and leg lifts, are used to enhance strength of the core muscles. An overlooked aspect of abdominal exercises is the compression the abdomen, leading to increased diaphragmatic work. We hypothesized that core exercises would produce a variety of transdiaphragmatic pressures. We also sought to determine if some of the easy exercises would produce pressures sufficient for a training stimulus to the diaphragm. We evaluated the effect of 13 different abdominal exercises, ranging in difficulty, on transdiaphragmatic pressure (Pdi), an index of diaphragmatic activity. Six healthy subjects, aged 22 to 53, participated. Each subject was instrumented with two balloon-tipped catheters to obtain gastric and esophageal pressures, from which Pdi was calculated. Prior to initiating the exercises, each subject performed a maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) maneuver. Resting Pdi was also measured. The exercises were performed from least to most difficult, with five repetitions each. There was a significant difference between the exercises and the MIP Pdi, as well as between the exercises and resting Pdi (p < 0.001). The exercises stratified into three Pdi levels. Seven of the exercises yielded Pdi ≥50% of the Pdi during the MIP maneuver, which may provide a training stimulus to the diaphragm if used as a regular exercise. The Pdi measurements also provide insight into diaphragm recruitment during different core exercises, and may aid in the design of exercises to improve diaphragm strength and endurance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-274
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Sports Science and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Abdominal exercise
  • Diaphragm activation
  • Esophageal pressure
  • Gastric pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of core exercises on transdiaphragmatic pressure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this