Suck your stomach flat with the abdominal vacuum exercise, which targets the transverse abdominis muscle. The transverse abdominis is an internal muscle that compresses the abdominal viscera -- internal organs such as your stomach, liver and other organs within the abdominal cavity. Supporting your spine, the abdominis viscera and other core muscles aid in stabilization of your torso.
The abdominal vacuum exercise can be done in several positions, including kneeling on the floor. To do the exercise this way, kneel on the floor and sit back with your buttocks on your heels. Place your hands on the sides of your legs to help you sit up tall. Pull your shoulders back and look forward. Then, pull your abs in as if trying to touch your belly button to your spine.
The abdominal vacuum can be done in this position in three different ways. One, hold the vacuum for 20 or more seconds. Two, hold the contraction for one second to two seconds and then release, alternating contractions and releases for a series of repetitions. Three, do quick pulses whereby you pull your abs in and relax them quickly.
The abdominal vacuum can be performed kneeling on all fours, which is called tabletop position in yoga and Pilates. Position your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders. Keep your arms straight and perpendicular to the floor. Place your knees hip-width apart, directly under your hips. Flatten your back. Turn your face to the floor to keep your neck in line with your spine. In this position, inhale and relax your stomach. Then, exhale and pull in your abs as much as you can, trying to pull your belly button up to your spine. You can either hold the contraction for a specified length of time, do reps or perform pulses.
Maintain a proper posture when doing the abdominal vacuum in a seated position. Sit on a chair or bench with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Locate your knees directly over your ankles, forming right angles with your bent legs. Sit up tall and look forward. Do not slouch or arch your back as you do the abdominal vacuum. Place one palm on your stomach and one on your lower back. When you pull in your abs, imagine trying to bring the palms of your hands together.
Perform the standing abdominal vacuum exercise in the same way you do the exercise in a seated position. Stand up tall and place one palm on your stomach and one on your back. Take a deep breath to relax your stomach, then squeeze your abs tightly as you exhale. Suck in your stomach as if you are trying on a tight pair of jeans.
You can do the abdominal vacuum while lying on the floor. Isolate your transverse abdominis muscle from a prone -- face-down -- position. Lie on your stomach and relax your hands on your back with your elbows bent. Squeeze your abs in tight.
- piercing image by Vasily Smirnov from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.