Women Are 'Vacuuming' Their Stomachs for Flat Abs, But It's Not as Nuts as It Sounds (VIDEO)

woman doing crunchesWant a flat belly? Of course you do. And to get one, you could do a kajillion crunches and give up eating everything but kale. Or get liposuction. Or, maybe, you could simply commit to ... stomach vacuuming.


True, it sounds like a horrendous surgical operation, but in fact, it's actually a super-easy, au naturel way to tone your stomach muscles.

Fitness expert Rich Sturla, owner and director of personal training at Results Health and Performance (RHP) in the U.K., isn't the founder of "stomach vacuuming." But he's considered an expert on the fitness trend. He explains:

Stomach vacuuming is a gentle breathing exercise that activates and strengthens the transverse abdominis (TVA) deep abdominal muscle via an isometric contraction -- a muscular contraction that isn't accompanied by the movement of a joint.

The reason it works so well, he says, is "cold, hard, and surprisingly simple science."

We'll break it down for you.

You've got six abdominal muscles. Tone just one -- the most superficial one and easiest to see -- and you'll get a "six-pack." But it's the deepest ab muscle -- the aforementioned TVA -- which REALLY matters if you want a flat stomach and cinched waist, says Sturla.

"The TVA wraps around the torso and acts like a corset on the midsection, with its function being to pull in the abdominal wall," he explains.

Strengthen the TVA, says Sturla, and you'll "essentially tighten the inner corset." Added bonus: you'll also strengthen your spine, improve your posture, and stave off lower back pain.

More from The Stir: 10 Most Unrealistic, Unattainable Abs Photos on Pinterest (PHOTOS)

So how do you do it?

Here's Sturla's easiest version to start with:

1. Start by lying on your back with your hips and knees flexed so that your feet are flat on the floor.

2. Exhale as much air as possible. This raises your diaphragm and, much like an empty stomach, allows for maximum contraction of the TVA.

3. Pull your navel in as close to your spine as possible. The more your navel draws in, the more the TVA is contracting.

At first, try to hold the "vacuum" for 15 seconds each set, for a total of 3 sets. Over time, build up to holding your breath for 60 seconds and 5 sets.

Here's a video that may help, too.

Sturla says his clients see the best results first thing in the morning. (You can even do this exercise in bed, which wins us over.)

True, this exercise alone "won't outpace bad diet and exercise habits," Sturla warns. "But if you're eating, moving, and training well, [it can be] a fantastic addition to your training regime."

Would you try this? What's your favorite ab exercise?


Image via billnoll/iStock

Read More >