Vacuum Twists To Strengthen Your Abs

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It’s been called the best abs exercise. And in this video, I’m going to show you how to use vacuum twists to strengthen your abs.

Hi, it’s Ivana helping you get fit healthy and strong at any age.

I’ve already done a few videos about the stomach vacuum because it’s a very popular abs exercise. It functions primarily to strengthen the TVA, the transverse abdominis, which are the innermost abs.

In this video, I’m also going to answer the questions that have been popping up in the comments section of my abs videos.

And I’m going to give you my thoughts about the stomach vacuum and stomach vacuum twists If you have diastasis recti. Which I had myself and a few people have mentioned in the comments as well.

The Classic Stomach Vacuum Exercise

In the classic stomach vacuum exercise, you’ll see a lot of their ribs sticking out. So they’re really pulling back and driving in. And that means that it’s not really possible to breathe during this exercise. And that’s one of the questions like get a lot in the comments.

Do you have to hold your breath?


This really is an isometric breath hold exercise, but it is possible to do a stomach vacuum while still shallowly breathing.

A Warning If You Have High Blood Pressure

Keep in mind that if you do have high blood pressure, it’s never recommended that you hold your breath during exercise. So be very careful that you don’t want to do the breath hold.

If you have high blood pressure, I don’t think you actually have to hold your breath. You can do a very shallow breath.

Learning The Stomach Vacuum Exercise First

Now I’m going to show you the classic one and I’ll just turn around so that you can see what happens underneath the roofs. I’m first expanding out. So allowing the belly to come out and then I’m going to breathe in. And then as I breathe out, I’m going to pull everything in and really draw it in underneath my rib cage.

I was holding my breath on that one.

As you can tell, keep in mind that the stomach vacuum also uses the internal and external obliques. I prefer a slight modification. So this one, by bringing the focus down, I feel like you get a little bit more TVA activation.

The TVA is also responsible for improving your posture and preventing lower back pain, which is a common issue. Too many people focus on that. Rectus abdominis, the six-pack muscle, because they’re trying to develop that with crunches and perhaps planks and other exercises, but they’re missing out on those internal muscles.

That’s exactly what the stomach vacuum exercise does.

My Modification Of The Stomach Vacuum

I’m going to show you my slight modification of the stomach vacuum, which is just pulling in a little bit lower. You’ll see the difference. You won’t see as much action underneath the ribs, so I’m still breathing out, letting it expand.

And as I pull in, I really focus low and then really pressing very low just where the belly button is. I’m pulling in the belly button towards the spine, really sucking it in. And as you can see, I can also talk a little bit. I’m going to stop doing that.

What I really like about that is the pulling it at the bottom.

You focus low and helps you to focus on the TVA a little bit better. Now you want to start off with two sets of 20 to 30 seconds for the regular stomach vacuum exercise. And once you’re fairly good at that, that’s when it’s time to move on to the stomach vacuum twist.

Doing Vacuum Twists

So where are you going to do with this one is that you’re still going to be bringing everything in as tight as you can. And you’re going to bring your arms up and do a twist. So just behind your head, just begin with the regular vacuum.

What grade out first, just released and then in, and then relax.

So I was slightly breathing during that and I’m just trying to pull in and go tight. That was ten five in each direction. I’m going to show you one more time. Just I’m going to focus a little bit lower down towards the TVA again. So hands-off, and let’s do it the lower one.

Stomach Vacuum Exercise

Now what I find about this one is it really just intensifies the whole thing in order to move from side to side, you really need to focus down and push down. So you get a bit more contraction there for some people. It just helps them contract that area altogether.

You might find this easier to do than the regular stomach vacuum exercise.

Here are the important points for the vacuum twists:

1) You want to make sure that you keep yourself upright so that when you’re doing the rotation, you’re not crunching in. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but you’re going to be activating the rectus abdominis and the obliques, which are much stronger muscles than the TVA they’re going to take over as well. You’re not going to be forcing the TVA to do as much work if you crunch it down and sort of do that, that boxing style movement.

2) The other thing that I think is really important is to keep this slow and controlled. And as you’re rotating, you’re just getting enough movement. So not way over and not a massive big twist. Again, the obliques are going to take over. They’re responsible for the rotation of your torso. So keep the action fairly tight.

Diastasis Recti & Vacuum Twists

Now here’s an important point for those of you who suffer from diastasis recti.

Sometimes it happens with pregnancy.

I’ve actually done a video for men with diastasis recti because I’ve had quite a few clients who suffer from this.

In that video, there’s a lot of information about what exercises to avoid. One of those things that I mentioned is that forcible twisting isn’t a great idea. This is a twist and you are forcing the twist.

However, you can do this very small, just a tiny little action.

If you don’t have a large diastasis recti, then it may not be as big of a problem. If you have one that where the tissue is quite strong, I still have a separation, even though it’s been many years since it started. However, the tissues are quite strong because I’ve been doing the exercises in order to strengthen them again.

At this point, I feel comfortable doing the rotation exercises. For safety, if you have to diastasis recti, stick with the regular stomach vacuum exercise and the other TVA exercises that I show on my channel. There are a lot of more effective exercises for that particular issue.

How Often Should You Do Vacuum Twists?

You can do stomach vacuum twists every day if you like.

I recommend starting off with a two sets of 10 reps and then working up to two sets of 20 reps, doing them every day, builds that mind muscle connection in your abdominals. You’ll probably feel that the area is tighter. You’re more aware of it.

There’s actually a very small study, but a very interesting one where they used female rugby players and they had them do the stomach vacuum exercise for eight weeks. It was twice a week for 45 minutes and they actually found a reduction in their waist circumference, even though they didn’t lose any weight, they didn’t lose any fat.

But I guess that strengthening of the TVA, they’re able to pull things in just a little bit tighter so it can make a difference.

That was for the regular stomach vacuum exercise.

The vacuum twist as well can be highly effective.

Abs Exercises That I Do

I practice TVA exercises all the time.

They’re pretty much my only abs exercises. I don’t do any crunching. I rarely do planks.

The only thing that I do is variations of TVA exercises.

Nutrition For Great Abs

Please remember that in addition to your stomach, vacuum twists in order to be able to see your abs to improve the appearance of your belly, you need to reduce your body fat levels, and that’s going to come primarily through your nutrition. Also something that people keep bringing up in the comments, you’re not really going to get great abs unless you monitor your nutrition.

It doesn’t mean eliminating junk foods or treat foods. It just means that you get the right amount of calories, the right amount of macros on a regular basis in order to stay lean. And then you’re going to see what’s underneath.

Revealing Your Abs

A lot of people have very strong abs, but you can’t see them. I’ve got some videos on my channel that will help you get there. So don’t do your vacuum twist every day and then finish it off with a burger and fries and ice cream. Oh, ice cream. Not that you can’t have ice cream. I do eat ice cream.

I am intentionally did three takes of that, just so I could eat more ice cream.

Not even sorry!

Let me know in the comments If you’ve been practicing this exercise and what kind of results you’ve seen, thanks so much for watching today.

Guys, please hit that like button and make sure you’re subscribed and you hit the bell and I’ll look forward to seeing you next week.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 6-year-old boy. She is a writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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