What is the Stomach Vacuum? The New Fitness Craze For a Flat Stomach

Have you ever heard of the stomach vacuum? This breathing technique used in yoga or Pilates gently strengthens the deepest abdominals while relaxing. We tell you everything about this weight training method accessible to all!

What is the stomach vacuum used for?

The stomach vacuum is a hypertensive abdominal exercise that works the deep abdominals. In other words, it allows you to have a flat stomach without too much effort! This bodybuilding technique combines breathing and internal massage to strengthen the deep abdominal strap, especially the transverse and obliques.

The stomach vacuum (stomach means "belly" and vacuum, "to suck" in English) was originally used by bodybuilders in the 70s to enhance their muscles. The fitness exercise is then taken up in Pilates, yoga and the Gasquet method to gently muscle the abdominals.

The exercises generally carried out to strengthen this part of the body, such as the crunch, are indeed often singled out for having harmful effects on our health. By lifting the chest to bring the shoulders to the knees, the shallow abs contract and strengthen. But at the same time, the organs are found pushed towards the bottom of the body, thus weakening the perineum which is under immense pressure. In the long term, this can promote incontinence and cause prolapse or, in other words, a descent of the organs into the pelvis.

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


The stomach vacuum is a gentle exercise that works the transverse, that is to say, the deep abs that go around our waist, and the obliques, which allow us to hold our spine and have good posture. The belly thus becomes visibly flatter with practice. This technique strengthens and re-educates the perineum, making it an ideal bodybuilding exercise after childbirth.

In addition to working the abdominals, the stomach vacuum allows you to massage the internal organs. These exercises, therefore, improve digestion, but also limit feelings of bloating and constipation.

It also stretches the psoas, the only muscle in the body that connects the legs to the spine. This muscle, if it is too contracted - and it is often the case with our sedentary lifestyle - can be the cause of many disorders. Lumbar pain, knees and hips, disturbances of the digestive system, and the bladder, ... Stretching allows you to have a better posture and to limit pain.

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

How to do a stomach vacuum?

Now that you know about the theory and all the benefits of this exercise, it is time to get started! Rest assured, there is no need for any material other than a groundsheet if you want to be more comfortable. But you can do it right on the floor if you don't have one.

You must first lie down. This position helps prevent organs from putting pressure on the lower body and perineum. Just 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 must not move, it must neither go in nor go out. You can put your hand at the stomach level to make sure if you are new to the exercise.

  • Contract the perineum by squeezing the sphincters, like when you hold back from going to the bathroom.

  • Always keeping this contraction, exhale through the mouth for several seconds, sucking the belly as much as possible. Again, you can put your hand down first to feel your stomach grow larger.

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

When you have mastered this breathing movement, it is time to apply it in the right position.

Still lying down, your legs are bent and your arms at your sides. Place your pelvis in retroversion: to do this, raise your pelvis to the half-bridge position, then slowly lower it by pushing your pelvis as far as possible from your shoulders using your hands, thumbs on the hip bone. In this way, the spine is stretched and the lower back is flat on the floor. Your hand should hardly be able to pass between your back and the floor.

To stretch your spine, you can also place your neck flat: put your hands on either side of your head, thumbs on your chin, and your other fingers behind your head. Then pull your skull as if you want to lower your chin towards your chest. You should feel that your neck is stretched.

Finally, place your shoulders low so that they are as far away from your head. With your arms at your sides, you are now ready to start your breathing exercises again!

A few tips to help you get the most out of your training:

  • While exhaling, imagine that you have a window in front of you: you have to breathe out through your mouth as if you wanted to steam it.

  • When you suck your belly on the exhale, do it from the bottom to work your way up. Imagine that your belly is a zipper that you want to close by tucking it in.

  • You can use this technique during your sports training, and especially when engaging the abdominals. By doing sheathing, for example, this method will enhance the effects of exercise!

  • Do series: for example, chain 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, head, and shoulders before resuming a new set.

  • You can easily include this exercise at the end of your workout if you are working out, or at the start or end of the day. 10 minutes a day is enough!

Who can use a stomach vacuum?

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

It is perfect for women who have just given birth since it allows to re-educate the perineum after pregnancy, but also for people suffering from back pain, or simply wishing to work on the transverse to adopt a better posture daily.

However, there are contraindications for women who have given birth by cesarean section, if you have recently had a stomach or breast operation, or if you suffer from heart or lung disease. In these cases, seek the advice of your doctor.

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