One of the most useful core exercises you can do is the stomach vacuum.
Contrary to its name, a stomach vacuum is neither a medical operation nor a chore. In reality, the physical therapy and bodybuilding industries have been using this particular sort of abdominal contraction for years.
While stomach cleaning can aid with core strengthening, you'll want to ensure that you're performing it properly. Here I’ll describe the stomach vacuum exercise, including how to perform it, the muscles used, and any potential advantages and disadvantages.
What is the Stomach Vacuum Exercise?
The deepest abdominal muscle in your body, the transversus abdominis, is contracted isometrically during the stomach vacuum exercise. This exercise is also known as the abdominal drawing in movement, stomach vacuuming, and stomach hollowing (ADIM).
Your abdomen is wrapped around horizontally (transversely) by the transversus abdominis, somewhat like a corset. Its primary functions include safeguarding the spine, assisting with expulsive forces, and supporting internal organs and viscera (e.g., expiration, urination, defecation)
Since the transversus abdominis is located deep within the body, some people may find it challenging to contract it or even to become aware of it.
How is the stomach vacuum exercise performed?
Choose the stomach vacuum workout method that works best for you from the numerous available options.
Option 1: Reclining (Supine)
The stomach vacuum exercise is most recognized and most extensively researched in this form. For this, you must be lying flat.
1. Knees bent, feet flat, spine neutral while you lay on the ground.
2. Alternately, place two fingers on the tops of your hipbones. Then, reposition them one inch (2.54 cm) downward and inward. To feel your transversus abdominis contract, do this.
3. With your lips pursed, inhale deeply through your nose, and then slowly exhale out of your mouth. Pretend you're slowly releasing air from a tire. Pull in your lower abs as you exhale. On your fingertips, you should feel the transversus abdominis contract. Consider pulling your belly button towards the rear of your spine as a helpful indication. While doing this, don't forget to clench your abdominal muscles.
4. Holding your belly in, continue to breathe normally. You shouldn't be holding your breath, as doing so indicates that you are "sucking in" rather than constricting your transversus abdominis. Attempt to maintain this stance for at least 20 to 30 seconds. 3 or more times.
Option 2: Standing Up
Another common variation of the stomach vacuum is to perform it while standing.
1. Hands on the hips as you maintain a straight posture.
2. Inhale deeply through your nose, then slowly let it out through your mouth while keeping your lips pursed. Slowly tense your abdominal muscles as you exhale to bring your lower abs in.
3. Hold the position for at least 20 to 30 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat 2-3 times.
As a reminder to contract their abdominals, some people find it beneficial to place their palm across their lower abs.
Option 3: Kneeling (quadruped)
This entails getting down on "all fours" and is known as a kneeling stomach vacuum. Working against gravity makes it a little more difficult.
1. Begin on all fours with your wrists beneath your shoulders and your knees stacked under your hips. Ensure that your back is neutral and flat.
2. To assist you become acclimated to this position, you can choose to slightly push your stomach in and out.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth while pursing your lips. Draw in your lower abs gradually as you exhale (imagine your belly button being pulled towards your spine). You may also picture your belly being dragged upward in this position.
4. Maintain this position for 20–30 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat 2-3 times.
Option 4: Prone Position (Face Down)
The prone or face-down variant of the stomach vacuum is another variation.
1. Lay on the ground on your stomach with your legs straight and your arms out in front of you, palms down.
2. Draw your lower abs in and tighten them as you inhale deeply and gently exhale through your mouth while keeping your lips pursed. This variant is a little trickier than others.
3. Breathe normally and maintain this posture for 20–30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Option 5: Sitting
Due to how your body is positioned and the various supporting muscles that are used, the seated stomach vacuum is one of the most challenging variations.
1. With your feet flat on the floor and your palms resting on your thighs, sit up straight in a chair.
2. Constrict your lower abs and draw your belly button toward your spine as you inhale deeply and gently exhale through your mouth with your lips pursed.
3. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds while attempting to breathe normally. Repeat 2-3 times.
What Muscles Do Stomach Vacuums Target?
The transversus abdominis, a portion of your core and the deepest muscle in your abdominal wall, is the primary target of the stomach vacuum.
Your diaphragm, internal and external obliques, pelvic floor muscles, and multifidus are all somewhat targeted as well.
As you perform stomach vacuums, make an effort to tighten the muscles in your pelvic floor, which support your pelvic organs and aid in maintaining continence for feces and urine as well as sexual function.
Benefits of Doing Stomach Vacuums
It could reduce back pain. Lower likelihood of back discomfort is associated with having a strong core, including the transversus abdominis.
Reduces the chance of back injuries. When lifting large objects, learning how to effectively contract your core can help to prevent damage.
Your waist may appear slimmer as a result. Strong transversus abdominis can have a "cinching" effect that makes your waist appear smaller since it wraps around your waist. However, it won't reduce belly fat.
It aids in your practice of transversus abdominis contraction. During other core workouts, some people find it difficult to tighten their deep abdominal muscles. Regular stomach vacuum practice can help you become more accustomed to these muscles and improve your ability to contract them.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
The deep transversus abdominis muscle can be activated with the stomach vacuum exercise. There could be some disadvantages, though.
Online videos abound that teach individuals how to "suck in" their stomachs, which is far simpler than performing a stomach vacuum. Simply sucking in your stomach will not cause the transversus abdominis to contract, rendering the maneuver ineffective.
Additionally, a lot of people think that using the stomach vacuum can help them get visible abs. While a strong transversus abdominis can aid in the creation of a slim waist, stomach fat cannot be eliminated without a calorie deficit achieved by diet and exercise.
You cannot get a "six-pack" from it either. You'll need to exercise the rectus abdominis, the most superficial abdominal muscle, and have a low body fat percentage, which may or may not be good for you.
In the end, when done correctly, the stomach vacuum exercise can be beneficial. It must, however, be combined with a comprehensive fitness program.
Tips For Doing It
Before you begin stomach vacuuming, take into account these useful suggestions:
• Avoid sucking in. In order to perform a stomach vacuum, you must slowly pull your abdominal muscles inside while keeping your breathing regular. You cannot move by quickly sucking in your stomach; it is ineffective.
• Don't slouch over. The rectus abdominis contracts more forcefully than the transversus abdominis when you lean forward or tilt your pelvis.
• Don't forget to breathe. If your transversus abdominis is contracted sufficiently, you should be able to breathe while maintaining this position.
• Use your hands. You may determine whether you are contracting your transversus abdominis by placing your hands or finger tips on your lower abs, about an inch in and down from your hip bones.
• Keep your other muscles in mind. You may strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by stomach cleaning. Pay close attention to these muscles as you inhale deeply.
The transversus abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle, is the target of the popular exercise known as the stomach vacuum.
Despite its strange name, this exercise can strengthen the transversus abdominis, which is challenging for many individuals to do.
When executing stomach vacuums, slowly pull your lower abdominal muscles inward to ensure that your transversus abdominis is being appropriately contracted. Draw your belly button closer your spine for a helpful cue.
Although efficient, stomach vacuums won't magically reduce belly fat or give you a six-pack. Instead, you may incorporate this exercise into your existing healthy lifestyle to support and protect your spine by strengthening your core and learning to move more functionally.