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Sometimes, you just have to suck it up...

posted Oct 20, 2015, 1:28 AM by SueJ Ashman-Smith
Bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger knew how to fake a tiny waist: by performing a stomach vacuum. It is a simple trick that involves isometrically contracting the transverse abdominus. This corset-like muscle lies deep within, behind the more visible abdominal muscles. It is very important to posture, and to preventing lower back pain. In some people, particularly women who have been pregnant, the fibers of the rectus abdominus, which run vertically, can thin out and leave little structure to contain the abdomen. Part of rehabilitating this condition, called diastasis recti, is to call upon the inner fibers of the transverse abdominus, which run horizontally. There are several ways to practice the stomach vacuum. It is perhaps easiest to learn to control the muscle by lying down on your back, placing your index fingers within your navel, and trying to pull the navel downward toward the spine. The actual vacuum exercise can be easily performed sitting. Start by taking in a full lung-and rib-expanding breath. Now blow out all that air, and as you do, strongly pull the navel in and toward the spine. Feel those muscles of the transverse abdominus contract. Tighten them down hard, and hold for about 10 seconds. You can and should continue to breathe while you hold the muscle contraction; that is where the real control comes into play. Repeat 4 times. Do this exercise 3-4 times a week, working up to 20, then 30, then 45 , and then 60 seconds hold and up to 8 repetitions, Remember, you won't lose abdominal fat by exercising the abdominal muscles; you don't burn that much energy doing so. But you will begin to feel your abdominals holding you and helping you in nearly every activity you do, making you stronger and more resistant to injury, more competent and graceful and balanced. Your posture will improve, and with proper diet and cardiovascular exercise, your abdomen can take on the enviable taper bodybuilders crave.
SueJ Ashman-Smith,
Oct 20, 2015, 2:01 AM