Stomach vacuuming has nothing to do with your Dyson — and seriously, don’t try that at home. Instead, it’s actually a breathing exercise that activates and strengthens your transverse abdominis, aka your deepest abdominal muscle, by contracting it, explains Rich Sturla, owner and director of personal training at Results Health & Performance.
If you do it right, you’ll work those deep, important muscles that are responsible for stabilizing your spine. That means your back might hurt less and your posture might get better, which will also make you feel SO much better.
What is stomach vacuuming?
FWIW, stomach vacuuming is also called the “abdominal drawing-in maneuver” or “abdominal hollowing,” and it’s really not new at all. Since it focuses on breathing mechanics and engaging the core muscles, it’s a pillar of yoga and Pilates, explains Sturla. Basically, it’s what your fitness class instructor means when they say “engage your core.”
It’s also an isometric exercise, where you hold muscles in a contracted position for a period of time to strengthen them. It’s pretty similar to its well-known and widely respected cousin, le plank.
Will stomach vacuuming make my abs flat?
Ehh, not really. (Neither will crunches, but that’s a story for another day.) When you’re taking a deep breath, engaging your entire abdominal area, and holding it there for a few seconds, you’re not really challenging and chiseling the group of muscles on the surface (that’s called the rectus abdominis, friends).
Instead, the breathing exercise tightens those deeper muscles we mentioned, which are ridiculously important for keeping your spine stable. That helps you break your ongoing toxic relationship with slouching and ease lower-back aches and pains. Also, you need a strong and stable spine and core to lift weights or take a high-intensity spin class—and this move makes that happen
How do I “vacuum my stomach”?
Unlike planking or any other exercise really, you can do it pretty much anywhere: sitting, standing, kneeling, lying down. And a little extra practice is a good idea since it’s actually harder to do right than it looks.
Start with the most basic move: The Supine Stomach Vacuum.
Step 1: Roll onto your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (or your mattress, if that’s your vibe). Then, take a big exhale and pull your belly button in toward your spine by using those muscles deep within your midsection to slowly pull your abdominals in. (The closer you get, the greater the intensity of the contraction and the more effective this move will be.)
Step 2: Hold that position, keeping the muscles contracted and engaged, for 10 to 60 seconds, while taking small breaths. That’s one rep. Repeat three to five times.
To make the move harder, try it on your hands and knees, sitting straight up in a chair with, or on a Swiss ball. And once you master the squeeze? Hold your navel to your spine while you sit or stand throughout the day.
If you practice this exercise daily you should start to feel the benefits within a few weeks.
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