The Stomach Vacuum Exercise Trend Is An Easy Way To Strengthen Your Core

Strengthening your core muscles has a lot of benefits. From better balance and posture to more support during strength training, exercises that target the core are part and parcel of any good fitness regimen. 

Enter TikTok with its various health and fitness trends. While some of them come with bold (and false) claims of accomplishing quick weight loss goals or better abdominal definition, the stomach vacuum exercise trend, shared by physical therapist, Jenny Brennecke, has a lot of benefits, in addition to strengthening your core. "Vacuums, also known as hollowing, are an isolated strength-training exercise of the deep abdominals," explains Brennecke in the post. The area that's targeted with a stomach vacuum exercise is what is known as the transversus abdominis, which is the deepest layer of your abdominal muscle. Also called the body's natural "corset" muscle, the transversus abdominis sits around your abdomen, per Healthline. If you're looking for an ab exercise that should be in your workout routine, the stomach vacuum might be worth checking out. 

According to Brennecke, the stomach vacuum technique is used in physical therapy which makes it effective and safe. "It also can help reduce your lower back injury risk, improve the postural control and stability within your spine and your pelvis, as well as be able to just kind of control and strengthen your abdominals on command," she adds. 

The stomach vacuum isn't a new exercise

TikTok has a way of hyping up a trend so much so that it feels new and exciting, but according to Beverly Hills, California-based pilates instructor, Nonna Gleyzer (via Everyday Health), "People have been doing this type of breathing exercise for hundreds of years, specifically in the kundalini yoga practice." In fact, every time you hear a fitness instructor saying the term, "bring your belly button to your spine," they're probably referring to a version of the stomach vacuum, personal trainer and founding instructor for Peloton Row, Katie Wang told TODAY


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The act of drawing your belly button to your spine is one of mindfulness, in addition to being an exercise that strengthens your core. Picture doing a plank or any other form of ab exercise that forces you to mindfully connect with your ab muscles. For those who understand the benefits of mind-to-muscle connection, the stomach vacuum exercise can be a powerful way to help you stay in the present while working out. "There is this level of fitness that you can unlock when you start to mentally connect with your body during a workout and during your breath. So I think therein lies the beauty of the technique. It's breathwork, it's isometric contraction, muscle connection," shared Wang. 

How to perform a stomach vacuum exercise

There are different variations of the trending exercise — sitting down, standing up, and lying down. In fact, the stomach vacuum is one of those exercises you can do when you're seated at your office desk, which makes it great to incorporate even into a busy workday. 

Begin by standing up straight and breathing out completely before pulling your belly button to your spine and creating that vacuum in your stomach. Brennecke instructs viewers to inhale while drawing your belly button in and holding the pose for 10 to 15 seconds, with an aim to increase to more seconds in the future. Other fitness instructors, like certified personal trainer Sam Shaw (via Fit&Well) recommend breathing naturally while doing the vacuum. The goal is to hold the pose for as long as is comfortably possible before releasing it back to the starting position. You've just completed one rep. Brennecke recommends doing five sets, 3 to 4 times a week.

Important things to keep in mind include working out on an empty stomach to avoid feeling uncomfortable and not assuming that the stomach vacuum alone is sufficient to burn belly fat. Everything from your diet to your entire fitness regimen matters. Additionally, if holding your breath is making you feel dizzy (this could happen to someone with high blood pressure) or hurting your stomach or lower back in any way, stop and consult with a physical therapist before continuing.