Wellbeing

Latest craze: Stomach vacuum your way to a flat stomach

Stomach vacuuming is the latest abs craze – but don’t worry, it has nothing to do with your Electrolux.

With summer fast approaching you may have noticed your gym classes becoming increasingly crammed, as folks start to panic about getting their bodies beach-ready.

Instead of endless crunches, those in the know are turning to stomach vacuuming – a simple breathing exercise you can do at home that activates and strengthens the transverse abdominis or TVA (your deepest abdominal muscle) by contracting it. It requires minimal effort but it’s said that just a few reps per session will not only help to flatten your abs and make you look slimmer, but will also improve your posture. Okay, we’re sold!

FQ spoke to personal trainer and nutrition expert Jordan Jennings from The Form Room to find out how stomach vacuuming works exactly:

Stomach vacuuming in a nutshell – what is it?
Put simply, stomach vacuuming is when you suck in your stomach and try to pull your belly button as close to your spine as possible to work your Transverse Abdominus (TVA). The TVA is an important muscle that holds up your internal organs and stabilises the spine and pelvis. When stomach vacuuming, the TVA contracts, increasing intra-abdominal pressure and stiffening the spine. By holding this position the muscles increase in size and strength, helping prevent bloating, lower back pain and possibly allow for a tighter waist.

So what do I need to do?
1. Start lying on your back on the floor with you knees bent so your feet and back are flat on the ground.
2. Exhale as much air as possible trying to empty your stomach.
3. Initiate the vacuum by sucking your stomach in towards your spine as far a possible. The further you can suck your stomach, the greater the TVA will contract and activate.
4. Once you reach your limit, hold this isometric contraction and take short shallow breaths (hint – you should struggle to hold a conversation).
5. Hold for 15 to 45 seconds, two to three times a day, three days per week to begin with. Once you can complete this then progress to completing the exercise on your hands and knees, then seated upright.

It sounds too good to be true. Does it really work?
Almost every client that comes to The Form Room shows symptoms of a weak TVA – whether it’s lower back pain, restricted movement or a postural fault. I personally find the stomach vacuum very useful for beginners as a low-risk exercise to aid in developing a stronger TVA. It is important to say though the stomach vacuum is limited in regards to providing enough stimulation for the TVA to fully develop and I find variations of the plank to be the more effective exercise overall.

Will I get the flat stomach of my dreams if I do this enough?
It is true that a well-developed TVA will act like a pair of Spanx, pulling your stomach inwards and allowing you to hold a tighter waistline. In regards to showing off your abs, the stomach vacuum alone will not help remove the excess body fat currently covering them up.

In that case, what else would you recommend people do to get the flat stomach they’re dreaming of for summer?
In the pursuit of your dream body this summer, we recommend two to three full body resistance workouts per week paired with a nutritious diet focusing on your body’s specific calorie and macronutrient requirements. You can’t out-vacuum an unhealthy diet, so get the balance right with regular exercise and good nutrition plus stomach vacumming and you’ll be able to retire your Spanx this festive season!

Photo: YouTube/perfectfitnesstv

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