The Stomach Vacuum Exercise and Farmer Burns Stomach Flattener: Breathing Exercises for Abs

Get Bruce Lee Abs!

Have you ever looked in the mirror, stood up really straight and flexed your abs?  Compare that to slouching over and sticking out your stomach.  Which one looks better?  It’s pretty obvious that your abs look their best when properly flexed.  Want a neat trick to help your abs look like this all the time?  Then start doing breathing exercises to get your abs to look like Bruce Lee abs.  The stomach vacuum exercise and Farmer Burns stomach flattener are two unique exercises to help you tighten your stomach.

Before I describe these exercises in detail, let’s get something out of the way.  These breathing exercises will not help you get six pack abs.  Sorry, you’re going to have to lose body fat through diet and exercise before that happens.  A good six pack abs routine that includes core exercises like planks and renegade rows will help tighten abs, but for abs to be really sharp, the only cure is high intensity exercising combined with a fat loss diet.

The reason breathing exercises for abs work well is due to muscle memory or the mind to muscle link.  Through regular practice, you’ll be able to walk around without consciously flexing your abs.  This will lead to tighter looking abs all the time.

Bruce Lee used breathing exercises as part of his abs training, including a variation of Farmer Burn’s Stomach Flattener

Farmer Burns Stomach Flattener Exercise

The stomach flattener exercise involves taking in a deep breath and “exhaling without exhaling” while tightening your abs:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Take a deep breath through your nose filling your lungs with air, but keep your abs from expanding.
  3. Flex your abs while trying to force the breath out.  However, you want to minimize the amount you actually breathe out.  I leave my mouth slightly open while tightening my abs.  It can help to clench your fists to really tense and tighten yours abs.
  4. Continue forcefully flexing your abs while slightly exhaling in this manner for 5-10 seconds and then allow your breath to completely escape before taking in a new breath of fresh air.

If you’ve had any martial arts training, the feeling should be similar to preparing to take a punch to the stomach by tensing your abs.  I repeat this exercise for 10 times, but it’s probably best to start with 2-3 times initially.  Deep breathing can make you feel lightheaded until you get used to it.  This can be done every day to really develop muscle memory.  As you advance, you can just include this with your regular 2-3 days of ab training.

At the end of this clip from Kickboxer (enjoyable but certainly not up to Bloodsport’s standard!), Jean-Claude Van Damme (remember him?) shows how to tense his abs to absorb a blow, similar to the effect you want from Farmer Burns Stomach Flattener exercise.

Stomach Vacuum Exercise

The stomach vacuum consists of exhaling all the air in your lungs while sucking in your stomach:

  1. Start from a bent over position with your hands on your knees.
  2. Exhale all the air from your lungs.
  3. Slightly rise up while sucking in your stomach but avoid taking in any air.
  4. Hold your stomach in for 5-10 seconds before exhaling and repeating.

I perform a slight modification as well, rising all the way to a standing position and slightly arching my back to work my upper abs.  As a starting point, just focus on the steps above without standing up straight.  I perform this exercise 10 times as well.

Breathing Exercises for Abs

Farmer Burns stomach flattener and the stomach vacuum exercise are two ways to help improve the actual look of your abs.  While they won’t help you spot reduce belly fat, simply doing these exercises for 3-5 minutes per day can improve muscle memory allowing you to subconsciously walk around with abs that look more toned.  Using this method, maybe one day your abs can look like Bruce Lee abs.



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