We’re all guilty of sucking in our stomachs every now and then to look a little leaner. Little did you know that you were on to something with this little trick. The act of sucking in your stomach is actually an exercise called the stomach vacuum.

Hands down the most convenient abdominal exercise you can do, the stomach vacuum targets and strengthens those deep abdominal muscles you never hear about. It’s one of the best exercises to shrink your waist and help you look shredded. Let’s break down what the stomach vacuum is, which muscles it targets, and how you can do it to achieve that small waist you’ve always wanted.

WHAT IS THE STOMACH VACUUM?

Popularized in the 60s, thanks to bodybuilding legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane, the stomach vacuum involves contracting and pulling in your abdominal muscles as hard as you can.

It is an isometric contraction exercise, which means you won’t need to bend, flex, or rotate your core in order to activate the abdominal muscles. Rather, you can lie down flat, sit upright, go on all fours, or stand up straight. This is the order that we recommend for beginners to fitness veterans, respectively.

WHICH MUSCLES DOES THE STOMACH VACUUM WORK?

If you’re like most, when you hear the word abs, you’ll immediately think about the glory muscles: the rectus abdominus and the external obliques. These are the front and center muscles that give people that famous six-pack. The stomach vacuum does hit these muscles, but its primary focus is on the inner abdominal muscles: the transversus abdominus and lumbar multifidus.

The transverse abdominis and lumbar multifidus are often referred to as the deep ab muscles because they lie beneath the rectus abdominus and external obliques. They might not give you that six-pack look, but the deep ab muscles play a far more important role for your postural support.

Strengthening the deep ab muscles doesn’t just shrink your waist; it can also correct postural distortions, alleviate back pain, and improve power-based performance such as squatting.

HOW TO PERFORM A STOMACH VACUUM

There are two basic variations to the stomach vacuum: seated and all-fours or kneeling. You can perform the stomach vacuum standing, but for those that are new to the exercise, you might feel light-headed the first few times you try it. It’s for this reason that we recommend performing the stomach vacuum seated or kneeling on a comfortable abdominal mat. Let’s break down both variations below:

Seated Stomach Vacuum

  • Sit upright with your chest up in a chair or on the floor.
  • Make sure that you have a pillow behind you.
  • Begin by exhaling all the air out of your lungs.
  • Simultaneously, contract your stomach muscles and bring them inward. Visualize your belly button touching your spine.
  • Continue breathing out and hold for 20 seconds.
  • Once you’ve completed one set, take a short break and repeat the exercise two more times.
  • Do this exercise three times per week.
  • Add 20 seconds to your time every week.

All-Fours / Kneeling Stomach Vacuum

  • Place an abdominal mat beneath you and kneel on it.
  • Place your hands directly below your shoulders.
  • Maintain a flat back and a neutral gaze.
  • Begin by exhaling all the air out of your lungs.
  • Simultaneously, contract your stomach muscles and bring them inward. Visualize your belly button touching your spine.
  • Your back will naturally start to elevate a bit, and this is okay. Focus on contracting the inner abdominal muscles as hard as you can.
  • Continue breathing out and hold for 20 seconds.
  • Once you’ve completed one set, take a short break and repeat the exercise two more times.
  • Do this exercise three times per week.
  • Add 20 seconds to your time every week.

TRICKS TO ACHIEVING A LEAN STOMACH AND SIX-PACK ABS

If you want to achieve a seriously lean midsection, using the stomach vacuum is only the first step. You’ll also want to know how to burn stubborn body fat as well. Here are a few tricks you can use to enhance your results and achieve that slim and lean look.

Lower Caloric Intake

If you want to start to strip fat away from your midsection, you’ll need to drop your daily caloric intake. On average, a healthy weight loss caloric intake is 200 to 300 calories less than what you need to maintain your current weight. Use an online caloric calculator to get your exact number.

Focus on Protein

While you’re dropping your calories, you want to make sure you’re increasing the amount of protein you consume. Protein will help to protect your lean muscle tissue while keeping you satiated and promoting fat burning.

Use a Waist Trimmer Belt

Easier than doing the stomach vacuum exercise, tools like a waist trimmer belt can accelerate your results as long as you use them in combination with exercises like the stomach vacuum and a healthy diet.

Want to hack your waist trimmer belt for better results? Check out our article on secret tips for maximizing fat loss with a shred belt.

DO YOU WANT TO SHRINK YOUR WAIST?

Do you want a six-pack to show off? Do you want to improve your posture? Have you tried the stomach vacuum before? What were your results? Let us know in the comments below!