All about The Stomach Vacuum Exercise

June 1, 2022
All about The Stomach Vacuum Exercise

Have you ever heard of a stomach vacuum? This breathing process utilized in yoga or Pilates permits you to gently maintain the deepest abdominal muscles while relaxing. 

We tell you everything about this bodybuilding method accessible to all!

What’s the significance of stomach vacuuming?

The stomach vacuum is a hypopressive abdominal exercise that allows you to work the deep abdominals. In different expressions, it permits you to maintain a flat belly without too much struggle! 

This bodybuilding technique integrates breathing and internal massage to strengthen the deep abdominal strap and in particular the transverse and oblique muscles.

The stomach vacuum (stomach indicates “belly” and vacuum, “to suck” in English) was initially employed by bodybuilders in the 70s to improve their strengths. 

The fitness conditioning is then taken up in Pilates, yoga and the Gasquet method to gently strengthen the abdominals.

Also Read: 5 Tips to Prepare for Your Sports Season

The activities typically held out to support this element of the body, such as the crunch, are certainly usually singled out for holding deadly consequences on our healthiness. By lifting the chest to bring the shoulders closer to the knees, the superficial abs contract and build muscle. 

But at the same time, the organs find themselves pushed down the body, weakening the perineum which is under immense pressure. Over the long term, this can promote incontinence and cause prolapse or, in other words, a descent of the organs towards the pelvis.

The antagonistic muscles (those that stretch during the movement, as opposed to the agonist muscles, those that contract) also suffer a lot during this exercise. The crunch thus tends to abuse the lower back and cause pain in the lower back.

stomach vacuum
© Pexels

The stomach vacuum is a delicate practice that performs the transverse, that is to sound, the profound abs that proceed around our waist, and the obliques, which permit us to maintain our spine and hold an adequate posture. 

The belly thus becomes visibly flattered with practice. This process bolsters and re-trains the perineum, assembling it into excellent bodybuilding training after birth.

In addition to working the abdominals, the stomach vacuum massages the internal organs. These workouts, hence, enhance digestion, though also define sensations of bloating and constipation.

It correspondingly extends the psoas, the sole muscle in the body that joins the legs to the backbone. 

This muscle, if it is too contracted – and this is often the case with our sedentary lifestyle – can be the cause of many disorders. Back pain, knees and hips, disturbances of the digestive system and the bladder,… Stretching allows you to have a better posture and limit pain.

These deep breathing exercises also allow you to relax, while becoming aware of what is happening in your stomach, to better listen to your body.

woman stretching
© Pexels

How to do a stomach vacuum?

Now that we’ve told you about the theory and all the benefits of this exercise, it’s time to practice! Rest assured, there is no need for any equipment, except for a floor mat if you want to be more comfortable. But you can do it on the floor if you don’t have one.

First, you have to lie down. This position prevents the organs from putting pressure on the lower body and the perineum. Simply start by bending your legs, and try a few breaths to practice and better grasp the exercise. For it :

  • Inhale while inflating the rib cage. The belly should not move, so it should neither go in nor go out. You can put your hand on your stomach to make sure you are not used to doing the exercise.
  • Contract the perineum by squeezing the sphincters, like when you refrain from going to the toilet.
  • Still keeping this contraction, exhale through your mouth for several seconds, inhaling your stomach as much as possible. Again, you can put your hand down first to feel your belly grow.

It’s very simple, but it can be complicated to get the hang of it at first: we often tend to relax the perineum, while its contraction is a key point of the exercise! Take your time and practice several times.

When you have learned this breathing training, it is time to involve it in the correct place.

Still lying down, your legs bent and your arms along your body. Place your pelvis in retroversion: to do this, raise your pelvis to a half-bridge position, then gently lower your pelvis, pushing your pelvis as far away from your shoulders as possible using your hands, and thumbs on the hip bones. 

In this way, the spine is stretched and the lower back is flat on the floor. Your hand should barely be capable to part between your back and the bottom.

position bassin retroversion pilates vacuum
The Different Positions Of The Pelvis

To stretch your spine, you can also place your neck flat: put your hands on each side of your head, thumbs on your chin, and the other fingers behind your head. 

Then pull your skull as if you wanted to lower your chin towards your chest. You should feel your neck stretched.

Finally, place your shoulders low so that they are the farthest away from your head. Arms along the body, you are now ready to start your breathing exercises again!

A few tips to make your workout as successful as possible:

  • During the exhalation, imagine that you have a window in front of you: you must exhale through your mouth as if you wanted to mist it.
  • As you inhale your belly on the exhale, do so from the bottom up. Suppose that your stomach is a zipper that you like to close by folding it in.
  • You can use this technique during your sports training, especially when you engage the abdominals. By doing sheathing, for example, this method will reinforce the effects of the exercise!
  • Do series: chain for example five breaths before releasing your posture to relax your body a little, especially if it is not used to this position. Remember to replace your pelvis, your head, and your shoulders before resuming a new series.
  • You can easily include this exercise at the end of your workout if you do, or at the start or end of the day. 10 minutes a day is enough!

And in the video:

Who can perform a stomach vacuum?

This technique is accessible to everyone, even beginners or those who cannot practice a sport that is too intense.

It is perfect for women who have just given birth since it helps to rehabilitate the perineum after pregnancy, but also for people suffering from back pain, or merely wishing to operate on the transverse to embrace a more suitable pose daily.

However, there are contraindications for women who have given birth by cesarean section, if you have recently had stomach or chest surgery, or if you suffer from heart or lung disease. 

In these circumstances, aim at the recommendation of your medic.

The stomach vacuum is an easy exercise to perform on a daily basis and better for your health than the abs we know. Are you planning to get into it?

Photo: Pexels/ Miriam Alonso

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Margaud Raynaud is a beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and tips with others and has a particular interest in skincare and makeup. When she's not writing about health and beauty, Margaud enjoys trying out new products and experimenting with different looks. Follow her blog for expert advice and inspiration for living your best life.

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