What is the Stomach Vacuum Exercise and How Do You Do It?
The stomach vacuum was a famous move back in the 1970s and 80s by the premier bodybuilders of that era, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane. It allowed them to show off their thin waists and muscular backs. Nowadays, partially due to social media trends, the stomach vacuum exercise is back in the spotlight. Try squeezing this exercise into your workout plans by doing it a few days a week. Your abs, core, and lower back will thank you.
What is the Stomach Vacuum Exercise?
The stomach vacuum exercise is when you exhale all of the air in your lungs, contract your abdominal muscles and then hold the pose for up to 20 seconds. The exercise works the muscles of your lower abdominals and lower back. There are multiple ways to perform it, but all of them are very effective at gaining control over the muscles in your core. Like any exercise, if you do it often enough, you'll be sure to see the benefits in due time.
What are the Benefits of the Stomach Vacuum Exercise?
The more you perform the stomach vacuum, the greater the benefits you will see. You'll start by noticing your waistline decreasing as your muscles become more toned. This is from the 'corset' muscle becoming tighter. If you have minor back pain, there is a chance it can go away since this exercise works the stabilizer muscles of the lumbar region of the spine. This also helps reduce the chance of injury when you are lifting heavy during exercises like squats. The extra stability of the spine won't allow it to bend under higher weight loads, which may normally cause an injury.
What Muscles Does the Stomach Vacuum Exercise Target?
When you perform the stomach vacuums, you are primarily targeting the transverse abdominis, which is in the deepest layer of your abdominal wall. It stretches from the pelvis up to the lower ribs. This is how it got its nickname 'the corset muscle' since it wraps around you horizontally. You'll also involve the pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, and multifidus, although not as much as the transverse abdominis.
How to do the Stomach Vacuum Exercise
There are multiple ways you can do the stomach vacuum exercise. While some methods are harder than others, they all work the same muscles. These are five of the most popular ways to do the stomach vacuum exercise:
1. Standing Up
This is the most commonly attempted version of the stomach vacuum. Begin by standing straight with your hands on your hips. Next, take a deep breath and begin to exhale slowly. As you exhale, start to pull in and contract your lower abdominal muscles. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, and breathe normally while you do so. Repeat this 2-3 more times.
2. Laying Down
Laying down is just as common of a way to perform this exercise as standing up. Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Make sure your spine is straight as well. Take in a deep breath, exhale, and start to contract your lower abs. Keep breathing while you keep your abs contracted. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and repeat the exercise 2-3 more times.
3. Laying Face Down
If you practice yoga, start this position in a superman pose. If you're not familiar, lay on your stomach with your legs straight behind you and your arms extended straight in front of you, palms facing down. As expected, inhale as deeply as possible, slowly exhale, and contract your abdominals inwards. Remain in this pose for 20-30 seconds, then try 2-3 more times.
4. Kneeling Down
Slightly more difficult than laying face down, the kneeling stomach vacuum requires you to work against gravity. Start by kneeling on the ground with a neutral spine. Your hands should be below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Inhale deeply and then being to slowly exhale. As you exhale, pull in your stomach and imagine it going to the ceiling. Hold this pose while continuing to breathe for 20-30 seconds. Repeat at least 2-3 more times.
5. Sitting Down
This is the most difficult way to perform the stomach vacuum exercise since it requires the help of extra stabilizer muscles. Take a seat in a chair, place your feet flat on the ground, sit up straight, and rest your palms on top of your thighs. Take in a deep breath, start to exhale, and pull in our lower abs. Continue to breathe and hold the pose for 20-30 seconds, then repeat it 2-3 additional times.
Once you master all five of these ways to do the stomach vacuum, you'll know which one is your favorite and gives you the best workout.
Stomach Vacuum Exercise Tips
While stomach vacuums are a relatively simple exercise, there are a few tricks to making sure you are doing them correctly.
- Pretend that your belly button is being pulled towards your spine when you contract your abs.
- Don't forget to breathe; otherwise, it won't properly work your muscles.
- Keep your back straight, or it will work the wrong muscles.
- Slowly contract your abdominals instead of performing a quick sucking motion.
- Increase how long you hold your abdominal contraction every week.
- If your goal is 6-pack abs, you still need to follow a proper diet, not just exercise alone.
Follow all of these tips, and you'll see improved ab and lower back strength and endurance in no time.
Stomach Vacuuming Your Way to a Strong Core
Once you have the stomach vacuum exercise down to a science and fit it into your workout routine, you'll be sure to see results. Try doing it 2-3 days a week for 3-4 sets, and you'll get a stronger lower back and tighter abs. If you need anything else to boost your workouts like supplements, vitamins, or even fitness plans, TigerFitness.com can help. Browse around our site right now and let us help you take your workout to the next level!