By Christine Scheonwald for Your Tango
Stomach vacuuming is a weird name for a very effective ab exercise that’s been around since the 1970s. By using the stomach vacuuming technique, you may be able to reduce your mid-section in as little as three weeks.
There is one caveat, though: you must already be on a pre-established clean eating regime, drinking lots of water, and have a low to moderate body fat percentage. If you’re just starting to practice healthy habits and fitness, and are focusing more on weight loss than shaping your body, stomach vacuuming can be something you aspire to. A future goal.
If you do stomach vacuuming correctly, not only will you cinch your midsection, you’ll stabilise your spine, which can reduce lower back pain and improve your posture. And stomach vacuuming is one of the best ways to take off two to four inches from your midsection.
The abdominal region is made up of internal and external muscles. The external muscles are known as the Rectus Abdominus and the Eternal Obliques. You can thank the rectus abdominus for six-pack abs, but it’s the transverse abdominis (TVA) that’s the Spanx of your abdominal muscles.
The TVA pulls in the abdominal wall, and when it’s strengthened you’re basically tightening it to the extent that you have a smaller, flatter, and more defined stomach.
Stomach vacuuming is a breathing exercise that focuses on the TVA via an isometic contraction (tenses the muscle without moving it). Since this procedure is also known as abdominal drawing-in maneuver and focuses on breathing mechanics, it’s a big part of yoga and Pilates. (Post continues after gallery).
The most basic way to do it is by standing up straight and placing your hands on your hips, then exhaling all the air out of your lungs — all of it.
Expand your chest and bring your stomach in as much as possible, and hold. Hold that position for 15 seconds, at first, then work up to holding the squeeze for up to 60 seconds, taking small breaths as necessary. Repeat three to five times.
Another method is to do it first thing in the morning, while you’re still in bed. Lay on your back with your hips and knees flexed so your feet are flat on the floor or bed.
Then, follow the same procedure while standing, exhaling as much as possible, pulling your navel in close to your spine. (Post continues after video.)
When you get to the point where you’re able to hold the vacuum for 60 seconds each set, you can do the “quadruped stomach version” (on your hands and knees), sitting straight up in a chair that doesn’t have a back or arm rest, and/or doing it while sitting on one of those large rubber balls.
Once you get really good at stomach vacuuming, you can do it through out the day. Stuck in traffic? Do the stomach vacuum. Boring meeting at work? Stomach vacuum. You could even do it while binge-watching your favourite show and feel good about your choices.
Now you can tell your friends and family, “I’m not being a lazy-ass — I’m working on my abs!”
Have you ever tried stomach vacuuming? What did you think?