The Stomach Vacuum Exercise: Does This Viral Workout Do Much For Your Abs?

Published:

All our fitness and training resources are rigorously vetted by our expert team and adhere to our Exercise Advice Guidelines.

While the stomach vacuum falls under the category of current fitness trends or fitness fads and certainly sounds like a fitness fad gadget, rather than being an actual vacuum tool you can buy, the stomach vacuum is a trendy exercise circulating on TikTok.

But what is the stomach vacuum exercise, and how do you do the stomach vacuum workout?

Does the stomach vacuum exercise actually work, or does it fall under the umbrella of fitness fads that overpromise and under-deliver, stating it will give you those six-pack abs or help with your weight loss goals?

In this guide, we will discuss the TikTok stomach vacuum exercise benefits, how to do the stomach vacuum workout, and if this trendy ab vacuum exercise actually works.

We will look at: 

  • What Does the Stomach Vacuum Exercise Do?
  • How To Do the Stomach Vacuum Exercise

Let’s get started!

The stomach vacuum exercise.

What Does the Stomach Vacuum Exercise Do?

The stomach vacuum exercise is an isometric core exercise (that involves a hold like a plank) that involves drawing in the belly to activate and strengthen the deep core muscles.

The stomach vacuum movement is designed to target the deep core muscles rather than the superficial or outer core muscles that many common ab workouts focus on.

Studies have found that the abdominal drawing-in maneuver, which is essentially the stomach vacuum procedure, engages the transversus abdominis, internal obliques, pelvic floor muscles, and the multifidus muscle, which is a deep muscle in the back that runs along the spine and provides stability to the spine.

The deep core muscles and pelvic floor muscles truly help provide stability to the spine while supporting the pelvic organs, improving breathing mechanics, improving posture, and helping prevent low back pain by decreasing the load on the spine.

The stomach vacuum exercise.

They also help to provide stability to the spine during static postures and dynamic movements.

The benefits of the stomach vacuum exercise have been confirmed by research, which has shown that the abdominal drawing in exercise does help activate the deep core muscles, particularly the transversus abdominis, more so than general core stabilization techniques and popular core exercises.

Another stomach vacuum exercise benefit is that this maneuver helps increase the mind-body connection so that you can activate your deep core muscles more readily and more naturally during everyday life as well as during other workouts. 

This is because you really have to focus on engaging your deep core muscles when you sustain the stomach vacuum hold position.

This brings awareness to how you feel and engages these deep muscles that you otherwise can’t readily palpate, touch, or see when doing regular ab workouts.

Other research-backed benefits of the stomach vacuum exercise are improving pulmonary or breathing function and reducing low back pain, particularly among sedentary individuals.

A person taking a deep breath.

How To Do the Stomach Vacuum Exercise

Learning how to do the stomach vacuum exercise is fairly straightforward, and the ab vacuum exercise can theoretically be performed in several positions.

It is recommended that beginners try the stomach vacuum exercise standing up first, as this is the simplest posture for the movement.

For this reason, mastering how to do the stomach vacuum workout standing first will help ensure that you are doing it properly before progressing to one of the other potential positions for the stomach vacuum exercise.

Here are the steps for how to do the stomach vacuum exercise standing upright:

The stomach vacuum exercise.
  1. Stand with good posture, chest and back and down, straight spine, and hands on your hips.
  2. Inhale through your nose, slowly filling your lungs as much as possible for 3 to 5 seconds.
  3. Here is where the “stomach vacuum“ comes into play: exhale all of the air you breathed in by pursing your lips and breathing out through your mouth instead of your nose while simultaneously “sucking in“ your stomach as if trying to glue your belly button to your spine.
  4. Now, hold this “stomach vacuum position“ for 5 to 20 seconds.
  5. Gradually increase the length that you perform the stomach vacuum hold as your ab strength improves. In other words, beginners should aim to hold the stomach vacuum squeeze for five seconds or so, and as you get better at performing the stomach vacuum exercise, increase the length of time that you are drawing your belly button tight into your spine by sucking in your stomach. In this sucked stomach vacuum position, you should breathe in and out slowly through your nose; you should not hold your breath the whole time.
  6. Then, inhale through the nose while you relax your stomach.
  7. Repeat 3-5 times.
A person breathing in.

Aside from standing, you can also do the stomach vacuum exercise in a couple of other positions.

Research has found that the position in which you perform abdominal sucking in, like the stomach vacuum exercise, somewhat alters the muscular recruitment patterns and potential benefits of the stomach vacuum maneuver.

For example, a recent study examined the muscle activation patterns when performing abdominal drawing in exercise in five different postures. 

Results indicated that all five postures that were tested for the stomach sucking in exercise activated the following:

  • Transversus abdominis (the deep core muscle that encircles the entire trunk and acts like a corset when engaged to help provide stability to the spine and brace the core)
  • Internal obliques (the deeper muscles on the side of your abs/trunk that help you with twisting and lateral bending of the torso)

However, the degree to which these muscles were activated varied based on the position.

Therefore, you should be able to perform the stomach vacuum exercise lying down, sitting, standing upright, or kneeling, and varying how you do the stomach vacuum exercise can help you take advantage of the differing muscular workload in each position.

Here are the instructions for the different position variations:

#1: Sitting Stomach Vacuum

The stomach vacuum exercise.

Here are the steps for how to perform the stomach vacuum exercise sitting down:

  1. Choose a chair that you can sit in where your feet will be flat on the floor, and your knees will be as close to 90° when bent as possible. Your back should be straight. A firm, supportive chair tends to be best.
  2. Make sure to keep your back straight and use good posture throughout the duration of the stomach vacuum exercise.
  3. Keep your shoulders back and down and either lay your hands on your lap in a relaxed fashion or comfortably on the arms of the chair.
  4. Then, perform the stomach vacuum exercise steps as described above.

#2: Supine Stomach Vacuum

The stomach vacuum exercise.

You can also do the stomach vacuum exercise lying down supine, which means that you will be lying on your back.

Here are the stomach vacuum exercise steps for lying down:

  1. Lie down flat on your back, preferably on a fairly firm surface, such as a firm mattress, rug, or an exercise mat on the floor.
  2. Keep your spine in a neutral position but do not flatten your back, tilt your pelvis, or try to press your back or butt into the floor because this will activate superficial abdominal muscles, taking away the workload on the deep core muscles that the stomach vacuum exercise should be targeting. Ultimately, you want to allow for the natural curvature of the spine to remain intact.
  3. You can either bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor or lie perfectly flat like a board.
  4. Then, perform the stomach vacuum exercise procedure lying down.

#3: Kneeling Stomach Vacuum

The stomach vacuum exercise.

For the kneeling or quadruped stomach vacuum exercise position, perform the following steps:

  1. Kneel on all fours so that your wrists are stacked under your shoulders, your knees are stacked under your hips, your toes are down on the floor, and your palms are facing forward just in front of your wrists.
  2. Your arms and legs should be making a 90° angle relative to your torso, and your spine should be straight without arching your back. Keep your head in a neutral position by keeping your gaze down and your neck relaxed.
  3. From here, perform the stomach vacuum exercise.

#4: Prone Stomach Vacuum

A person lying face down.

Although less common, some people like to do the stomach vacuum lying on their stomachs. Here are the steps:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight, your arms up in a relaxed position above your head, and your palms on the ground.
  2. Then, perform the stomach vacuum procedure lying on your stomach.

So, will the stomach vacuum exercise help you lose weight, and does the stomach vacuum exercise give you a six-pack?

Ultimately, the short answer to both of these questions is essentially no. In terms of weight loss, the stomach vacuum exercise does not burn a significant number of calories and is not designed to be a weight loss exercise.

Furthermore, the stomach vacuum exercise itself will not give you six-pack abs as this exercise targets the deep core muscles.

“Six-pack abs“ come from strengthening the superficial rectus abdominis muscle and reducing your body fat percentage enough so that you can see the definition in the different sections of this ab muscle.

You can perform the stomach vacuum exercise 3-4 times per week, depending on your fitness goals and the other core exercises that you perform.

To learn more about the importance of strengthening the deep core muscles, check out our guide to diastasis recti here.

A person with diastasis recti.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.