Have you heard of the stomach vacuum that can firm and strengthen your tummy from the inside out? Just so you know, it's not a machine that sucks fat from your gut -- it's an exercise that contracts your transverse abdominis, which lies like a corset around your waist. It's the same muscle that engages when you suck in your tummy. The stomach vacuum can be your secret tummy-tightening exercise, because you can do it almost anywhere without anyone knowing.
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulders back and down, and lengthen your torso so you look proud, tall and confident. If you're new to the stomach vacuum, take your top off and do the exercise in front of a mirror so you can see your tummy working.
Place the palm of one hand on your belly, and then inhale and slowly, but forcefully, breathe out as you pull your belly button toward your spine. Remove all the air from your lungs and suck in your tummy as much as you can. Really try to see your rib cage in the mirror.
Maintain the contraction in your tummy, but breathe as normal. Avoid moving your belly up and down as you breathe -- keep it tightly sucked in. Hold this position for 20 seconds before releasing the tension in your tummy. Complete at least six stomach vacuums throughout the day, and as your stomach muscles get stronger, slowly increase the duration of the exercise to one minute.
- Always do the stomach vacuum on an empty stomach. An easy way to remind yourself to do this exercise is to do it twice before breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- To make the exercise easier, do it while lying on your back.
- For variation, do the stomach vacuum while sitting, kneeling or on all fours.
- Consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you've been inactive or have a health condition or injury.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.