Pulling in Your Stomach for Core Strength? Try This Instead…

Sydney Video Training 24 Comments

I used to pull in my stomach all the time. For a while, I couldn’t even relax my abdominal muscles because I’d been holding them in so much it was an unconscious habit.

Pilates is known for building core strength, and there was a time when I mistakenly believed that improving and demonstrating core strength was synonymous with pulling the abs in. So, when I was teaching, every time I cued someone to pull their abs in for an exercise, I pulled mine in too.

Eventually, I was unconsciously holding my stomach in all the time, creating unnecessary tension on my pelvic floor and abdominal wall as a result. I found out later that doing this can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction and issues like hernias.

I never teach anyone to “pull in” their abdominal muscles anymore, but I do cue ways to find these ever-important muscles—just in a very different way.

In today’s video, I’ll show you a process to feel the difference between pulling your stomach in versus allowing your abdominal muscles to activate more naturally.

I’m very curious to hear what you discover! Let me know in the comments below.

Yours in activating those mysterious deep abdominals with ease,

Sydney

P.S. Thankfully, I can relax my stomach again, but it was an over-and-over-again retraining process for sure. Do you ever catch yourself holding your stomach in for seemingly no reason?

Comments 24

  1. WOW! That was amazing and enlightening. I definitely felt a deeper engagement of my transverse and it wrapped around my sides to my back without much effort. An added bonus for me, I felt the side I tend to ignore join the party. It truly felt like a “comfortable corset”. Thank you, thank you, 😊

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  2. Hey Sydney

    Love this!! I too was just pulling in my stomach thinking I was activating my core. This is a great, simple but effective way of activating them without even thinking of it. I’m going to try use this when I can, whilst sitting at my desk!!

    Thanks….flat tummy, better posture here I come!!

    Julie,
    down under in Oz! 🙂

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  3. definite difference,. so much better then they are working when they are activated.
    I spent so much of my day tensing my core after back surgery , I also ended up with core and pelvic issues.

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  4. Thank you Sydney. I have been trying to hold my stomach in but I can’t sustain it so I forget. I just tried this video way and it was an amazing difference. My stomach tightened on its own FAR more effectively than me trying to suck it it. It is flatter also and with no straining effort. I will begin practicing this! Thank you again – Marilyn

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  5. that demo was so relevant. While holding abs in, it felt like I couldn’t breathe freely and everything just really tight. As I aligned my spine up to the crown of my head to the sky, it was so natural. Everything felt in sync and my core just took the reign. Breathing was very natural and I could definitely hold on to a prefect posture without much stress of compression. Thank you so much. I have been practicing kegel to provide relief on my hip joints, so this was so relevant for me.

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  6. The first way felt forced; the second way felt natural. And the top of my head got all tingly. Second way felt so much better.

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  7. Subtle and so effective. The cue of floating the crown is so much better than zip up the ribs and others that are overused and under efficient. You’re amazing and I’m grateful for all that you share. I pass them on to my yoga students and it has improved my practice and teaching. With love from Boston to you.

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  8. Thanks for all of your insights! I felt my back was stressed with the old way of tightening my abs, something I had never noticed before. Your way is smooth and body cohesive. Plus the old ab tightening was actually pulling my body down into a slouch or crunch position a bit. It’s enjoyable and easy to watch and learn from you.

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  9. Thanks Sydney, as well for me, it was a really good explication do get my “muscles belt” 😉 abs activated in a natural way! Saludos from Spain! Brit

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  10. Wow. I could be on my way to the flat belly of my dreams. The cue of floating the head up is great. Can definitely feel the obliques engaging

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  11. This was the most helpful way to understand activating my core. I have a habit of sucking in my stomach throughout the day that I’ve been working on, and activating my core through lengthening my spine like this is helping my work-from-home computer poster so much!

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