- 1 What is stomach vacuuming?
- 2 Does holding in your stomach help to flatten it?
- 3 What are vacuum exercises?
- 4 How to do the stomach vacuum exercise
- 5 Stomach vacuuming benefits
- 6 Stomach vacuum exercise side effects
- 7 Stomach vacuum exercise before & after
- 8 Lose weight with fasting
Last Updated on September 19, 2023
Stomach vacuuming – it sounds surgical, right?
Wrong. Despite what the name may suggest, it’s not a chore or an invasive procedure – it’s an exercise where you contract or “suck in” your stomach to engage your core.
For decades, bodybuilders and weightlifters like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane have used the stomach vacuum to accentuate their mid-region and enhance their stomach’s overall look and strength.
However, stomach vacuuming has recently hit the spotlight on social media, and it is now rapidly becoming a go-to exercise for many in the fitness world.
Influencers like Mia Adora, a 37-year-old mother in California with over 200,000 TikTok followers, said in one viral video, “Before I break my fast, I do stomach vacuums in the morning before I eat.”
She continued, “This is so much better for you than crunches and sit-ups. I wish I had learned it so long ago, but this is how you get a nice, tight, snatched waistline.’
Mia is not alone in singing the praise of the stomach vacuum. Now, more physical trainers advise clients to incorporate it into their daily intermittent fasting and exercise routine.
With that in mind, let’s look at what stomach vacuuming is, how to do it, the possible side effects, and whether the exercise will complement the weight loss and health advantages of intermittent fasting.
What is stomach vacuuming?
Stomach vacuuming, also known as stomach hollowing, is an exercise that trains the deep abdominal muscle called the transversus abdominis.
This isometric exercise contracts the transversus abdominis muscle that lies across your abdomen, the purpose of which is to support your internal organs and protect your spine.
You may be unaware that this ab even exists, as it cannot easily be seen or worked as it sits so far inside your core.
However, if the stomach hollowing exercise is done correctly and you learn how to use this muscle, it can help strengthen your back and achieve the appearance of a tighter, leaner waist and torso.
Does holding in your stomach help to flatten it?
Most who practice the stomach vacuum exercise do so to achieve a flatter belly, visible abs, and more control over their core.
This exercise doesn’t, however, miraculously give you a six-pack or reduce belly fat.
The only way to achieve this is to follow a structured and balanced diet, like intermittent fasting, and partake in regular exercise, including movements such as the stomach vacuum for abs, to help you achieve a flatter stomach.
What are vacuum exercises?
The stomach hollowing exercise is mainly designed to work the transversus abdominis. However, it also targets the pelvic floor muscles, external and internal obliques, and diaphragm to a lesser extent.
The exercise is done by pulling in your lower abdominal muscles in a controlled manner that helps strengthen and train your inner core.
How to do the stomach vacuum exercise
You can do the stomach vacuum exercise in several different ways. If you are starting, try the versions below to find out which works best for you:
- Locate your transversus abdominis by taking two fingers and placing them 2.54 cm (an inch) inward above your hip bone.
- Breathe deeply through your nose and slowly exhale with pursed lips. As you breathe out, contract your lower abdominals, and you should be able to feel the muscle tighten with your fingers. It is sometimes easier to imagine a string pulling your belly button towards your back or the floor.
- Now, try to hold your stomach in as you continue taking breaths normally. You are doing the exercise wrong if you continue to hold your breath – you simply want to control the stomach muscle for between 20 and 30 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise three times.
Excellent vacuum exercise results can also be gained by practicing the movement standing up. To do this, you need to:
- Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor and either your hands on your hips or with one palm across your lower stomach and abs.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose and out slowly through pursed lips.
- Draw in your belly and contract your lower abdominals.
- Try to take breaths normally while holding in the contracted transversus abdominis muscle.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Kneeling on all fours
This version of the exercise is a little more challenging as it involves kneeling on all fours, face down, with your back straight and palms to the floor.
- Once in this neutral position, pull your stomach in and out quickly a few times to get comfortable (optional).
- Draw in a deep breath through your nose, and exhale slowly through pursed lips.
- As you exhale, pull in your lower abdominal muscles towards your spine while retaining your position and your straight back.
- Continue to breathe normally for up to 30 seconds while holding your contracted abs in. Repeat three times.
It is also possible to do the stomach hollowing exercise face down, with your legs straight and together and your arms extended straight over your head with your palm facing downwards.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth with your lips pursed.
- As you breathe out, tighten your lower abs.
- With your stomach still contracted, breathe normally, and hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise three times.
The most challenging version of the stomach vacuum exercise is done by sitting straight on a firm, upright chair with your feet flat on the ground and palms placed face down on your thighs. Once in position, continue doing the following:
- Through your nose, breathe in deeply while contracting your lower abs.
- Exhale slowly through pursed lips while holding your belly in as if you are pulling your stomach back towards your spine.
- Breathe as usual while retaining your tight stomach to engage the muscle and hold for up to 30 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise three times.
Stomach vacuuming benefits
If you learn how to train your transversus abdominis muscle by regularly practicing vacuum exercises, you can benefit in many ways – not just aesthetically. The advantages include:
Reducing the risk of back injuries: If your job involves lifting heavy objects or items, practicing the stomach-hollowing exercise and developing a tighter core can help limit the chance of back injury and pain.
It can help your waist appear smaller: Training your lower abdominal muscles and the transversus abdominis can make your waist appear smaller. That said, this is only the case when you are doing the exercise – you will not get rid of belly fat unless you combine the exercise with an effective diet or intermittent fasting regime.
Stomach vacuum exercise side effects
Using controlled isometric exercises like vacuuming to tighten your core abdominal muscles and strengthen your mid-section poses little risk for most people, so long as the movements are monitored and done correctly.
However, if you suffer from a chronic illness, have a preexisting back or movement issue, or suffer from high blood pressure, do consult your doctor or general practitioner before trying this exercise or embarking on any diet, exercise, or fitness regime.
Remember, you won’t achieve results immediately, and don’t push your limits by holding your breath for too long, contracting your stomach too tightly, or trying to do too many repetitions – if it hurts – stop.
Like most exercises, you may feel that you have worked the area, and your stomach may ache the day after you first start practicing the movement, but you should build up a tolerance and start to see the results over time.
Stomach vacuum exercise before & after
There is a common misconception that simply “sucking in” your stomach will engage the transversus abdominis muscle. As we have seen, this is not the case.
Practicing the stomach vacuum exercise correctly takes time and practice, and mastering the movement is far trickier than you think.
Vacuum exercise results can be significant only after you have become proficient in the practice and engaged your lower abdominal muscles and transversus abdominis over time.
Although stomach hollowing can benefit your health and appearance, the exercise alone will not give you a smaller waist or eliminate excess belly fat.
Ultimately, if you want to achieve a tighter core and leaner look, only combining stomach vacuuming with a structured and balanced diet plan, like intermittent fasting with Fasting Kompanion, will help you achieve your goal.