Updated: Jan 7
Many people get into the gym for the sole purpose of developing a good-looking midsection, and more specifically, a six-pack. However, what we have in the middle of the body is far more than just abs, as this portion of your torso is responsible for a variety of important functions. In this short article, we’ll reveal in detail what you should know about the abs, core, their functions and how to train them with a long-forgotten, old-school exercise: The stomach vacuum.
The Core 101
For the most part, when you hear the word “core” you may think of your sixpack, but the truth is different. The six-pack is just a part of your core and works in synergy with other muscles around it, to ultimately:
Keep your posture good
Stabilize internal organs
Keep you on your feet
Exert force using other muscle groups
It is considered that the core is made up of the external and internal abdominal muscles, the glutes, the spinal erectors, obliques and the diaphragm.
Static VS Dynamic Exercises
Though crunches are a very popular exercise for the abs, they don’t even get close to the full functional potential of your core. As a matter of fact, the abdominals have a variety of functions, both dynamic & static.
For instance, leg raises would allow the abs to contract and relax dynamically, while just holding your legs raised in a static position would contract the abs statically. Both of these functions should be exercised during your training, to achieve maximum development.
Here are some of the best static & dynamic exercises you can do for the abs:
Hanging knee raises
Hanging leg raises
Side to side leg raises
Front lever drills
Full front lever
Boxing bag upside down crunches
The Stomach Vacuum
A chiseled set of abs will give your waistline a complete overhaul and if you want to emphasize on that even further, you can implement the stomach vacuum in your training routine. With this exercise, you will engage the internal abdominal muscles and your waistline will naturally become more tucked in.
Additionally, this is a whole workout for the sixpack as well, so do develop new, unseen before lines all over your midsection! Here’s how to do the stomach vacuum:
Stand up on your feet
Take a completely straight body position
Take a deep breath
Slowly exhale and contract the abs while holding your breath
Swallow the abdominal wall in and under the rib cage
Hold this vacuum for a couple of seconds and release
Initially, this may feel odd but with time, you will start feeling more and more mind-muscle connection. This exercise is best done on an empty stomach and can be practically completed every single day.
Take Home Message
The core is made up of a variety of muscle groups with the abdominals being the predominantly recognized one. Your abs and obliques serve a variety of important functions that allow for body stability during complex movements, which is why you should train them both dynamically and statically.
The stomach vacuum is one of the exercises that will allow you to engage the deep abdominal muscles, thus contributing to a better overall development.