Maybe you’ve recently heard people talking about the stomach vacuum exercise (also referred to as ‘stomach vacuuming’) to help flatten the tummy. When we first heard about it, we immediately thought of someone getting liposuction, but we were pretty sure they weren’t talking about plastic surgery.
It may not be the most talked-about trend in fitness, but if it’s an exercise that can help flatten our abs, we’re in. Before we begin, let’s get this out of the way: stomach vacuuming has nothing to do with attaching a vacuum hose to your belly or plastic surgery. It’s actually quite simple. We investigated so you don’t have to. Besides, what girl isn’t eager to check out a new ab-flattening trend?
What is Stomach Vacuuming?
If you’re expecting to have to pull out your credit card and order some awkward stomach vacuum device, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief now. Not only does stomach vacuuming not include an actual vacuum, it’s pretty easy to do.
Have you ever been to a yoga class and heard the instructor say ‘engage your core,’ or ‘breathe through your core’? The stomach vacuum exercise, also known as ‘abdominal hollowing’ is a whole lot like that.
Stomach vacuuming belongs to a family of exercises known as an ‘isometric exercise.’ And no, it has nothing to do with geometry. Basically, isometric exercises have you contract your muscles in a certain way for a specific period of time to help strengthen them. It’s a pretty common practice, and anyone who has stepped foot in a pilates, yoga, or barre class has certainly done their fair share.
The concept behind the stomach vacuum exercise is it targets the deeper abdominal muscles, called the transverse abdominals. These muscles act like a girdle to the waist, which are responsible for holding your stomach in tight.
How To Do Stomach Vacuums
The great thing about this exercise, besides its purported ability to make your stomach flatter, is that you can do it from literally anywhere, in any position. In fact, it might be something you already do without even realizing it is a true exercise. The basic idea is to contract your stomach muscles and hold them tight to help train my stomach muscles to stay flat.
Step 1: Get into a comfortable position. Laying on your back, standing, or sitting is easiest at first, but you can eventually evolve to doing this on your hands and knees for an added challenge. Inhale as much air as possible and then exhale as much as possible, while sucking your stomach in as much as possible (like a vacuum).
Step 2: Blow out all your air, and hold this contracted position for at least 20 seconds (while, get this, attempting to breathe normally) and repeat for several sets. The longer you hold, the more challenging it is. You can work your way up over time.
Stomach Vacuum Results: Does it Actually Work?
Could the stomach vacuum be the answer to your poochy problems? No doubt, this exercise does work the transverse abdominals. You can feel the muscles working as you do it. And, if you are not used to working the transverse abdominals, you may even feel sore afterwards. However, don’t count on it fixing all your tummy troubles.
As we mentioned earlier, the process of sucking in your stomach and flexing your abdominal muscles for a few seconds is called an isometric contraction. During an isometric exercise, the muscles do not noticeably change in length and actually require little to no movement at all. It can, however, help you improve your posture and increase strength.
Isometric training (like a wall sit or plank exercise) definitely has its place, but only to a certain point. Your body will adapt and you’ll eventually need something more to continue making improvements.
In addition, stomach vacuuming won’t fix belly fat. Most people with bulging bellies are fighting two different battles – a battle with weak abdominal muscles along with poor posture and another battle with food. You can do all the stomach vacuuming you want, but don’t expect visible results if you continue to be a food vacuum. If you don’t change your eating habits you will not only keep the fat around your belly, it will be harder to hold your stomach in with a stuffed gut.
Lastly, stomach vacuuming is not the best exercise for everyone. Like all isometric exercises, stomach vacuuming can be dangerous for some people because it increases blood pressure more than other traditional exercises.
The Bottom Line: Fit or Flop?
Working your transverse abdominals is essential to having nice abs, but so is reducing body fat. Used alone, stomach vacuuming would flop. However, combine this exercise with a lean diet, cardio, and resistance program, and you will likely find stomach vacuuming to be a good fit!
Try These: Top 10 Tummy Tightening Exercises
Stomach vacuuming isn’t the only exercise to work your transverse abdominals. Here is a list of some of the best top 10 tummy tightening exercises.
2. Side Plank
3. Ab Roller
4. Diagonal Knee Plank (Slow Cross Body Mountain Climbers)