If you’re looking to take your core workout to the next level, you may want to give “stomach vacuums” a try. This exercise has been gaining popularity in recent years, but many people are still unsure about what it actually does for their body. In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits, techniques, and common misconceptions surrounding stomach vacuums.
What are Stomach Vacuums?
Stomach vacuums, also known as “ab vacuums” or “stomach pulls,” are an isometric exercise that focus on the transverse abdominis muscle. This muscle is located deep in your abdomen, behind the rectus abdominis (the “six pack” muscle) and obliques. The transverse abdominis muscle is responsible for compressing your organs and stabilizing your spine, and is often neglected in traditional core workouts.
To perform a stomach vacuum, stand up straight and exhale all the air from your lungs. Then, suck your belly button in towards your spine as much as possible, without holding your breath or flexing any other muscles. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, then release and breathe normally.
What Muscles do Stomach Vacuums Work?
As mentioned earlier, stomach vacuums primarily target the transverse abdominis muscle. However, they also engage the obliques, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae (the muscles that run alongside your spine). By strengthening these muscles, you can improve your posture, reduce your risk of lower back pain, and enhance your athletic performance.
What are the Benefits of Stomach Vacuums?
A strong transverse abdominis muscle can help maintain good posture by stabilizing the pelvis and spine. If you sit at a desk all day or have poor posture from standing for long hours, stomach vacuums can help improve your alignment and reduce discomfort.
Stomach vacuums can also improve your breathing by strengthening the diaphragm muscle, which controls your inhalation and exhalation. By practicing this exercise regularly, you can increase your lung capacity and respiratory endurance.
While stomach vacuums won’t necessarily give you a six-pack, they can help create the appearance of a flatter stomach by training the transverse abdominis to hold in your organs and reduce bloating. This effect is more noticeable in combination with other core exercises and a healthy diet.
Better Athletic Performance
The transverse abdominis muscle is essential for many athletic movements, such as running, jumping, and throwing. By strengthening this muscle, you can improve your overall agility and explosive power.
How often should I do Stomach Vacuums?
Since stomach vacuums are an isometric exercise, you can do them every day without risking injury. However, it’s best to start slow and gradually increase your reps and hold times. Aim to do 3-5 sets of stomach vacuums, each lasting 15-30 seconds, at least three times a week. If you feel comfortable, you can increase the duration of each hold or add in other core exercises to your routine.
Common Misconceptions about Stomach Vacuums
Stomach Vacuums are the Only Core Exercise You Need
While stomach vacuums are a valuable addition to any core routine, they shouldn’t be the only exercise you do. It’s important to include a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups in your core, such as planks, crunches, and Russian twists.
Stomach Vacuums can Spot-Reduce Belly Fat
Unfortunately, there is no exercise that can specifically target fat loss in one area of the body. While stomach vacuums can help strengthen your core and reduce bloating, they won’t make you lose weight if you don’t have a calorie deficit.
Stomach Vacuums are Easy
Although stomach vacuums may look simple, they can be quite challenging, especially if you have a weak transverse abdominis muscle. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t hold the position for very long at first – with consistent practice, you’ll get stronger over time.
Stomach vacuums are an underrated exercise that can provide a multitude of benefits for your core strength and overall health. By incorporating them into your workout routine, you can improve your posture, breathing, and athletic performance, as well as achieve a flatter stomach. Remember to start slow, be patient, and don’t be afraid to seek guidance from a fitness professional if you’re unsure about proper form.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do stomach vacuums cause any harm to the body?
No, stomach vacuums are a safe exercise that can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels, as long as you perform them with proper form and don’t hold your breath or strain your neck.
Can I do stomach vacuums on an empty stomach?
Yes, you can do stomach vacuums at any time of day, as long as you feel comfortable and have enough energy to perform the exercise. However, it’s best not to do them right after a heavy meal or when you’re feeling bloated.
Do I need any equipment to do stomach vacuums?
No, stomach vacuums can be done anywhere, without any equipment. However, you may find it helpful to do them in front of a mirror, to ensure that you’re engaging the correct muscle.
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3. McGill, S. (2010). The ultimate back fitness and performance (3rd ed.). Waterloo, Canada: Backfitpro Inc.