The Complete Guide to Stomach Vacuums – how to do them, benefits, risks, and do they work?

The exercise known as stomach vacuums trend promises transformed abs, losing inches off the waist, and a flatter stomach, but is there any truth behind these claims?

person doing a stomach vacuum
Stomach vacuums promise a lot, but do they deliver – source

Let’s find out.

Learn everything you need to know about stomach vacuums including science-based benefits, how to do them properly, and if it even works in the first place!

Can the stomach vacuum trend transform your core for the better, or is it all hype with no substance?

What are Stomach Vacuums?

The stomach vacuum exercise is one that supposedly targets deep muscles in the core, which cause the stomach to tighten. You breathe out, sucking in the stomach slowly, and hold the position. This causes a flatter stomach and smaller waist if practiced daily for a long period.

You can do this in the morning and night, repeating the process a couple of times.

How Do You Do Stomach Vacuums?

Stomach vacuums can be done from a standing, kneeling, laying, or sitting position. 

For a standing position, breathe in deeply, allowing the stomach to expand. As you breathe out, pull your stomach in, as if you are trying to press your belly button towards your spin. Hold for about 30 seconds, then repeat. This can also be done from a seat. Keep your back straight, once again, breathe in, and as you breathe out, pull your stomach in.

If you are laying down on your back, you may have a small advantage as gravity can help draw the muscles in with more ease. This variation is highly studied as well. Breathe in deeply, then breathe out, sucking in the stomach. Hold and repeat a couple of times.

You can also go down on all fours in a kneeling position. This may be more challenging, as you are working against gravity. The technique is the same! You just breathe in deeply, then breathe out, pulling in the stomach, holding, then repeating.

Since they can be done from so many positions, this makes them a great on-the-go workout for anyone!

What are the Benefits of Stomach Vacuums?

The muscles targeted by stomach vacuums are the transversus abdominis, a muscle in the deepest layer of your abdominal wall. It is also pretty large, as it spans from the lower ribs all the way to your pelvis. 

A weak transversus abdominis can lead to many problems such as back pain, inability to balance, pain when moving, and a higher risk of hernias. Few exercises target the transversus abdominis, like a stomach vacuum, so if anything, doing this exercise will at least strengthen this important muscle.

Stomach vacuums can also strengthen your obliques (sides of the abs), your pelvic floor muscles, and the multifidus (muscles along the spine). This leads to improved posture, and reduced back pain.

The breathing technique associated with stomach vacuums can so help increase respiratory health by strengthening the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that creates the contraction and relaxation movement that allows you to inhale and exhale.

Even just taking a deep breath can instantly improve wellbeing too, relaxing the body and calming the mind.

Do Stomach Vacuums Really Work?

Stomach vacuums are in fact heavily studied. They do relieve severe back pain, can improve overall posture, and can be a great addition to a general workout routine.

It is best to do them on an empty stomach to not interfere with the body’s digestion. The benefits to the core provide stability and increased health, as we all want our internal organs to, well, stay internal.

One thing to note, a stomach vacuum does not reduce belly fat. The reason for a reduction in waist and flatter stomach is the strengthening and tightening of the abdominal muscles.

Are There Risks to Stomach Vacuums?

Stomach vacuums sound amazing, but are they safe?

Generally yes! There is no major risk to doing a stomach vacuum, as it is an isometric move (a position you do not move in, just hold to strengthen).

Potentially, use caution if you have high blood pressure, as stomach vacuums may momentarily raise it.

Extra Tips!

Here are some extra tips for proper stomach vacuums.

Try Not Holding Your Breathe

You actually don’t have to hold your breath during a stomach vacuum. In theory and with practice, you should be able to pull the stomach in and breathe as normal, though you will feel pressure as you inhale.

Use them During a Core Routine

You know when fitness people in classes or videos tell you to engage your core? Yeah, this is it. You can do stomach vacuums during a core workout to keep the core engaged and work out all those muscles.

Use Your Hands

Assist yourself and see if you are doing them right by placing your hands on your stomach during a stomach vacuum.

Do Them When Your First Wake

Doing them on an empty stomach is easier than doing them fully. Try to do them wither when you wake up or are about to go to bed.

Don’t Hunch Over

Have proper posture when you do stomach vacuums! This will help you breathe properly, and align the spine and back properly. Leaning over and hunching will reduce the activation of the transversus abdominis, instead activating the rectus abdominis.

Don’t Just Suck in

Be mindful of everything during your stomach vacuum, all the muscles used, your breath, your posture, etc. While sucking in movement is used, it is more about engaging and contracting the muscles.

The Takeaway

Stomach vacuums are an exercise that can indeed have many benefits. They can help improve posture, increase stability, reduce the risk of hernia, and even improve respiratory health.

Stomach vacuums can be done standing, sitting, or on the ground. They can even be incorporated into a core workout.

Try them even if you do not want to change how you look, as they target the transversus abdominis, an incredibly important muscle that helps the stuff inside us stay inside.

Remember that health starts from within. With micro habits, you can slowly but surely reach new fitness goals daily, improving health and wellbeing greatly!

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