Rex Features

So what exactly is stomach vacuuming? 
'It has been around for years and is better known in the Pilates world for increasing Spine and Pelvic floor stability and for more aesthetic reasons in the Body Building community.
The stomach vacuum exercise is an effective exercise working the Transverse Abdominals (TVA).  The TVA’s (deepest muscle) main responsibility is to hold the abdominal contents like your intestines in place and to help with forced expiration when lifting heavy objects, coughing, laughing, and sneezing.'

Why is it better than doing sit-ups?
Stomach Vacuuming works your midsection in a very different way to sit ups and crunches by targeting the TVA instead of the Rectus Abdominis (‘six pack muscles’) and the Obliques.  Imagine your TVA wrapped around your midsection like a belt – strengthening the TVA will result in tightening that area and flattening your belly and reducing any bulge.' 

When should we do it?
'The great thing about Stomach Vacuuming is that you can do it anywhere and anytime – at work, at home, standing in line …It’s a great way to start the day in the morning and/or during the day at work as the deep inhalations are fantastic energy boosters, have calming/stress reducing benefits and make you be more aware of your posture and have you sit more upright. I use this technique frequently with my post natal clients to regain strength in the abdomen and to cure any diastasis, reclosing the abdominal wall.'

How often should we do it?
'If you’re new to this and have never done any TVA strengthening exercises before (stomach vacuuming or isometric exercises like planks), I suggest to start with one set of 10 deep inhalation/exhalation exercises a day and build up to 2x daily. You want to avoid any potential overtraining of the area as a hyperactive TVA may cause your spine to get too stiff and have reverse effects on your wellbeing.'

We've got a bad back, can we still do it?  
'Incorporating exercises that strengthen the TVA as part of a treatment plan to reduce back pain is certainly useful but there is not enough evidence to what extend it is beneficial.  If you are suffering from back pain, I suggest you start with the modified version by laying on your back to support your spine.  If you’re unsure about your condition and what you can and cannot do, please consult your therapist before engaging in this exercise.'

How long until we see results?
'You’ll easily see your stomach firming up within the first 2 weeks as long as you stick to your routine and enjoy a healthy and balanced diet for maximum results.' 

Ok we're sold, how do we actually do it? 
'The version I am describing below is a more modified version of the traditional Stomach Vacuum exercise which I find more beneficial and also easier to follow. You can do the exercise either standing up, laying down on your back or on all fourth.

Stand tall with your hands on your hips and start to slowly inhale through the nose, filling your entire belly and lungs with air. Once you’ve taken in all the air you can, start to exhale slowly through the mouth focusing on your stomach.  Draw your belly button inwards and upwards towards your spine as you slowly continue to exhale.  Once you have completely exhaled all the air, hold your belly tight for a couple of seconds before releasing.

This is one repetition – repeat up to 10x at a pace that feels comfortable to you.

Do your first time in front of a mirror and see how your stomach positioning changes.  Stand sideways to see the immediate effects when you exhale.' 

To book a class with Jess visit 

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