You have done everything you can to carve your midsection – crunches, torso twists, and leg raises – but it’s just not working out. You have started core exercises to go with your abs workout routine but that flab seems stubborn as a mule. So, then one question comes to mind – what can you do about that soft-looking body fat? Stomach vacuum is what you’re looking for.
The first logical step is to adjust your diet. You may already know that burning fat off of certain body parts is harder. Spot fat reducing is not possible neither recommended because while you are in that process, you lose fat from all over your body, which sort of acts against the whole idea. That’s how fat-burning exercises work.
Most people seem to have that one spot where most of their fat is stored. This usually means that it is the most stubborn part of the body and it will need a lot of efforts and a stricter diet to succeed. This part is usually around the waist and lower portion of the abdominal musculature. So, what can you really do?
You can embrace the popular stomach vacuum exercise!
Understanding the Stomach Vacuum Exercise
If you have reached a plateau in your mid-section progress, you can explore the stomach vacuum exercise. It is basically a yoga technique used as a massage for the internal organs. To learn and appreciate how it can help you, it is important to know a bit of its history.
Origin of Stomach Vacuum Exercise
During the golden era of bodybuilding – starting late 60s – bodybuilders noticed that doing the vacuum, combined with certain bodybuilding poses, gave a much more ripped look to their torso. Sucking the abdominal wall in really helped enhance the small waist and give a v-taped look. This gave rise to a trend which was soon followed by almost everyone in the bodybuilding community of that period.
However, it should be noted that the vacuum exercise was made popular by golden era bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, and especially Frank Zane, who also invented the famous ‘vacuum pose’.
Fast forward to the 21st century, it is still a well-known fact that the stomach vacuum has several benefits when it comes to toning the inner abdominal muscles. Consistent practicing of this exercise will lead to a more ‘tucked in’ belly besides toning the muscles in that area.
Following are the two muscle groups that are primarily involved when you do the stomach vacuum:
- Transverse abdominal – the deep abdominal muscle
As per the position of the body during the exercise, the two muscle groups can be focused on by switching positions. For example, if you do this exercise sitting down on the floor, the diaphragm will be engaged more than the transverse abdominal muscle.
Other position variations
On the other hand, if you do it while lying down on your back, it will allow you to achieve greater motion, as gravity will help you suck in the abdominal wall with better strength.
Doing the vacuum exercise in a four-legged position allows you to heavily engage the inner abdominal muscles. This position is also recommended for intermediate users.
Executing a Stomach Vacuum Exercise
Mean Muscles recommends you to start this exercise in a lying position, as gravity will help you really feel the movement of the abdominal wall, inner abdominal muscles, and the diaphragm. Following are the steps involved –
- Lay down on your back with your legs slightly apart so that you feel comfortable and relaxed
- Inhale deeply through your nose so that your lungs are filled up
- Exhale while simultaneously contracting the abdominal wall
- Suck the abdominal wall in and under your rib-cage
- Hold it for a couple of seconds and then relax
Do this in sets of 3 as you begin. In later stages, you can increase the time you hold your breather.
- Don’t contract the abdominal muscles too strongly; give them a slight flex just to get them involved in the exercise.
- Don’t do a crunch while doing the vacuum exercise. You should stay still on the ground without lifting your head or torso up.
More Information about Stomach Vacuum
There is no certain set-rep scheme to keep with this exercise, as you can do it anywhere, anytime, for however long you want. Doing stomach vacuums on the regular basis will help you strengthen your deep abdominal muscles and diaphragm quickly.
It only takes 10 minutes a day and is a golden tool to use on your way to a flatter and more tucked-in mid-section.
It should be noted, however, that this flat tummy exercise takes a lot of practice to master and can also become painful if you overdo it. A proper plan and incremental sets of vacuums are recommended. You can also refer to Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact Muscle Building program to understand how to do this and 200+ other exercises correctly without hurting your body.
Do Stomach Vacuums Really Work?
Stomach vacuum is today regarded as one of the most effective exercises to shrink your waistline. It is all the more the perfect exercise if you are short on time because “vacuuming your stomach” is known to reduce your waistline by 2 to 3 inches in about 25 days. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
However, it takes practice and determination, much like everything else when it comes to fitness. You cannot do the flat belly exercise for 3 weeks and then go back to your old routine, or worse, stop working out. If you need results, you need to repeat the routine, ideally at the same time every day, for a long time. Your midsection can gain flab in the fraction of the time it takes you to get trimmed. So, the ball is always on your court.
Are Stomach Vacuums Safe?
This is another of those questions that prevent many from trying it out. First things first, just doing the vacuums is not going to carve a six-pack on your midsection. You will still need work on your core to manage that (check out our six-pack guide while at it). As stated above, it contracts your inner abdomen muscles and does just that – nothing more, nothing less.
Coming to the safety part, it has been trusted by bodybuilders around the world for decades and has been vetted by physicians. There is absolutely no harm in following the stomach vacuum routine. But, as we all know, anything in excess can be dangerous. So, start slow and take it gradually, and you will be an inch slimmer than you were two weeks ago.
Stomach vacuums have come back in vogue as they are safe, give faster and better results, and takes only a few weeks to master. Let that be your New Year resolution!