I've been working a lot lately on stomach vacuums and can tell my stomach is slowly getting tighter. When doing stomach vacuums you're contracting a muscle we sadly don't think much about today (myself included & I have a lot of work still to do), which is the transverse abdominis or TVA.
The TVA, which lies under the rectus abdominis and obliques, is the deepest of the abdominal muscles. It's a unique muscle because it doesn't connect to and move bones closer together like most other muscles. In fact, many of its fibers don't connect to bone at all. Instead, they run across the midsection, hence the name transverse abdominis.
But the TVA isn't just for use when we're lifting; it also serves to hold our internal organs up and in our abdomen where they should be. Think of the TVA as the anti-distended-abdomen muscle. And that's exactly why you need to train it!
For beginners, give this a try:
• Start by lying on your back with your hips and knees flexed such that your feet are flat on the floor or bed.
• Next, exhale as much air as possible. This raises your diaphragm and, much like an empty stomach, allows for maximum contraction of the TVA.
• Lastly, pull your navel in as close to your spine as possible. The more your navels draws in, the more the TVA is contracting.
In the beginning, try to hold the vacuum for about 5-10 seconds or so on each set. I've been doing 5 sets of 5 every morning when I wake up, on an empty stomach. As with any exercise, you'll want to progress over time. Work up to holding the vacuum for 30 seconds each set. 💪🏼