Learn how to contract your abdomen during exercise

If you practice or have practiced physical exercises, you probably heard someone say the phrases: “suck the navel”, “navel in the back”, “feel the belly flatten”, “don’t let the belly bulge”. All of them, however, mean nothing more, nothing less than contracting the abdomen during exercise. But do you know why this region’s contraction in physical activity is so important?

Our abdominal “wall” is formed by different types of muscles: the outermost layer is made up of the muscle called Abdominal Rectum (which forms the desired “six pack”), below we have the External Oblique , followed by a layer of the Internal Oblique, and more deeply we have a layer of the Transverse Abdomen muscle.


The Rectum of the Abdomen is that part of the belly that we are always struggling to define and has the function of flexing the spine and promoting intra-abdominal pressure, which helps with urination, defecation, expiration, coughing , vomiting and childbirth.

The External Oblique muscle has the function to flex, tilt and rotate the trunk contralateral. Its fibers run diagonally downwards, towards the center of the body and laterally to the Rectum of the Abdomen.

The Internal Oblique : Its function is also to flex, tilt and rotate the trunk. Its fibers run from the center upwards, laterally to the ribs.

Transverse Abdomen : Its primary function is postural and spine stabilization. But in addition, it also supports and compresses the contents of the abdominal cavity and assists in the rotations of the trunk. The fibers in this region are horizontal and form a muscular belt.


Contracting the abdomen is fundamental to define the muscles , because that way we work more on the region. However, this is a consequence. The contraction is even more important for posture, support and balance that will be required not only in everyday life but in a simple activity such as running, for example, and to avoid injuries.

As we have seen in the functions of each part of the abdomen, the abdominal muscles serve to perform some trunk movements, to hold the abdominal viscera and to stabilize the spine while the pelvis and limbs move. For this reason, we must contract the abdomen during the exercises , so as not to overload and tension the lumbar region and for a better positioning of the rib cage .


If you have tried, but had a hard time figuring out whether the contraction was done correctly, is not alone . Many people don’t know how to do it. Below we have selected an exercise that helps you learn to contract your abdomen during the exercises:

1 – First lie on your back and bend your knees, supporting your feet well on the floor. exercicio-contracao

2 – Place your hands on the last ribs (slightly above the belly), keep your arms and fingers very relaxed;

3 – Pull the air through your nose and release it through your mouth , blowing as if to “blow out a candle” that is far away from you.

4 -When you are breathing out, push your navel against your lumbar spine. Imagine that you are “stamping” the floor with your spine and “sewing your navel on your spine”. In doing so do not lift your ribs or hold your breath.

5 – Pull in the air normally and release forcing the ar out. This will make your ribs close; your hands come together and your spine align. (Try not to strain your neck when blowing.)

This exercise shows you how to contract the muscles in your abdomen, protecting your spine. When you “pull” the air (inhale), you prepare the position for the exercise. When you exhale strongly (forced exhalation), you contract your abdomen and perform the exercise.

When learning this abdominal contraction, you will be able to apply it during physical activities, avoiding injuries, especially in the lumbar spine.


– Remember the breath ! Whenever it contracts the air must be expelled.

– Before increasing the load, increase the intensity with greater amplitude.

– Work the entire muscle region , even the deepest ones, which will have greater activation in instability exercises.

– Throughout the exercise keep your abdomen contracted . Relaxing at some point can create a high load for your lower back.

– To define, do aerobics and improve your diet before and after training .


  • Does abdominal training give you more results?

Doing the same exercise every day is not interesting because overloads the same muscle. As we saw above, the abdominal region is the set of several muscles with different functions, and therefore we can emphasize one muscle and the next day another. After all, the muscle quickly adapts , and the regions that are not activated or little activated become weaker and less defined.

The abdominal muscles are predominant in type I fibers, that is to say they are resistance muscles, and therefore there is no great hypertrophy (muscle growth) in the region and are able, biomechanically and physiologically, to work quite for longer periods. So the most you can do in one day will bring more results than doing the same exercises every day . Your muscle also needs rest to recover and achieve results.

  • Do you need to do a lot of repetitions or load and do fewer repetitions?

The abdomen is a e resistance muscle, so it is possible to train strength and power in that region. However, before placing a “load”, you should make training difficult with a simple variation of the exercise. If doing 15-20 repetitions of the rectus abdominis is easy, do the full movement. Is it still easy? Get your foot off the floor, create instability. After that add light loads.

Athletes, gymnasts and fighters from different martial arts, for example, get to do more than 1,000 sit-ups per training, every day. And they hardly ever suffered an injury or stopped having “results” because they did many sit-ups every day.

In gyms many people hold weights above their head or at the height of their chest to perform the short abdomen, however, the abdomen will not hypertrophy and jump buds due to the load, the abdomen is a muscle that needs amplitude and instability for further activation.

No, unfortunately. Abdominal exercises are anaerobic activities and do not use fat as an energy source, what makes abdominal fat burn is aerobic exercise. The sum of these workouts generates muscle definition, the famous buds. Abdominal exercises are important for posture, balance, protection and muscular endurance.

Learn how to contract your abdomen during exercise

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