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I'm wondering about the whole 'hold your stomach in' thingie. Do trim and fit people "have" to still do this? What's it look like to/for you if you don't? You don't wanna know what it looks like if *I* let it all hang out, buh-LEEVE-me! I do the sit ups. The crunches. The leg lifts. I just have WAY too much belly fat for anything to show up yet. 

Buff guys: (besides when someone else might possibly see you) do you hold your stomach in?
Buff gals: do you still "need" to do this?

I know we're told to keep it sucked in, helps with posture, blood and oxygen flow, etc., but I wonder if I can (or ever will be able to) just 'relax' without looking like Shrek.

Can we just be honest, here? I wanna look down and see a tight sinewy sixpack staring lovingly back up at me -- WITHOUT having to exhale and 'suck it in.' Is that so wrong? Is that so POSSIBLE?



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I'm no buff chick (yet) but I do know that sucking your gut in is actually meant to aid your posture and abdominals. I find it helps my posture at least - which is horrific, by the way - because by pulling my gut inwards from time to time I realise how dumb I'd look hunched up over a drawn in stomach.

Funny how simple things can be, sometimes. :'D

Yeah, holding it in does aid your posture and abdominals.  I think that the purpose of it is trying to get your posture correct, because usually a sloucher has both incorrect posture and usually higher body fat.  I think I would suck it in, if I had a large stomach.  The stomach will decrease with exercise and dieting, but remember for a man it is the body's fat storage area so it leaves slowly and with persistence.  If you cut your calories too much it will sag more because the muscle tissues need a certain amount of calories to function.  So you don't want to burn muscle to try to rid yourself of fat.  When I drop weight, I notice my stomach starts to sag more.  However, if you watch, the XMA fighters of TV, when they cut weight or drop a weight class you can see their fat jiggling when they are bouncing before they start fighting.  Don't be discouraged, it takes time.  Keep sucking it in to help your posture.  Good luck.


I think a lot of it has to do with your actual "stomach" itself.  There have been times when I've been wayyy thin (too thin), and still, if I let it all out, I look almost like a pregnant person.  But then I would kind of pinch at my stomach fat, and realize there wasn't much there, it was really internal "poochiness". I do hold in all the time, for posture and for my abs.  Who knows.

I would liken it to skinny little kids.  THey don't know how to suck in yet, so they just walk around proudly presenting their stomachs first... Yet they're not overweight and don't have huge tummies.  Know what I mean?


Hrrmmm... yes. The 'skinny little kids' reference makes sense. However, my youngest son is thin as a rail and he has no 'poochiness.' [edited] My bros-in-law are thin and have to FORCE their stomachs out to get anything remotely resembling a paunch.

Of course my belly fat is anything but healthy but I'm wondering, when it is exercised/dieted/liposucked(PLEASE?) away, will I just 'look' trim, but, when I'm out of eye-shot and it's just me-and-my-mirror, will it look like I just swallowed a beach ball?

I like the link that lalabanana posted above. I'll start adding "the vacuum" to my routine. God knows it can only help.

I've always wondered about that myself.  I noticed my daughter, who's 5 and is about 35lbs (yeah, pretty small for her age), at the pool over the summer and her stomach protrudes.  Not much, but it does.  I don't know if because she's a girl would have anything to do with that since your son doesn't have that problem.

I've been holding in my stomach, and oh believe me when I say it's not for posture, ever since I had my son over 9 years ago.  I was skinnier when I was younger, but I remember always having a small pooch.  I don't remember sucking it in then.  But that pooch did make me feel like my body was out of place.  Maybe if I would've sucked in, then I would've felt better about myself.  LOL...

I'm thin/average and I look 3 months pregnant when I'm not sucking in.  It's so much worse right after I eat (and for the following 3 hours).  I've often wondered if it would be less of a problem if I was a little heavier...seems like it would blend in more. 

I've always wondered the same thing. I would love to just relax instead of having to suck in my stomach 24/7. I don't do it for posture either!

Ahhh... we'll get there someday...

I don't have to suck in anymore and it feels great.

Many people will tell  you that "Abs are made in the kitchen". Eat right, exercise and in time your belly will disappear!

 Don't give up! For me - my belly was the second thing to go (right after my boobs...)


I think the "pooch" is more of a girl thing than a guy thing. (Hello we carry babies in there!)

But I mean, I have abs, and I am pretty thin-- but I still suck it in. Not like a super suck walk around turning blue type thing. But I am aware of it and especially around other girls (blush) or in a bikini.

I never thought it was something anyone else did though! So good topic! I thought I was just uber-vain lol.

I am a certified yoga instructor. In Yoga, to breathe really deeply, you CAN'T hold in your stomach! We practice breathing --inhale first into the chest, then into the belly; exhale out of the belly and then the chest. It is a deep breath and is very healthy. If you always hold in your belly, you will affect your oxygen intake and eventually your lung capacity (it DOES change)

Keep up the healthy eating and exercise--you will lose the fat eventually and then I say, relax and if a little pooch shows, take a deep breathe and don't worry so much about it :o) 

Yes!  All the time!  I'm thin---lower then my recommended BMI--- and I work out my stomach muscles everyday, yet to have a perfectly flat, plane belly I still need to suck it in a little.  ESPECIALLY at the end of the day, after drinking all that water!

Part of the reason is that I had abdominal surgery a few years back and my muscles will never match up quite correctly again on my right side, but I think most of it is just plain biology.  As we digest our food our guts expand and contract and produce tiny air pockets, which pooch out the tummy a little.  I bet you notice that your belly is a lot flatter first thing in the morning. 

Also, as a small breasted lady, if my stomach pokes out at ALL it looks bad, since I don't have the top to balance it off.  Ah well.  I just try to think of the sucking in as a form of isometrics!

well, from what I understand...flexing your stomach muscles not "sucking in" but pulling in your abs- like when your working out, running, lifting weights even doing some yoga moves requires a stiff core- can strengthen your stomach muscles and eventually you won't have to "suck in". It does work,  I started  to flex my tummy muscles when I was younger and starting to compete as an athlete (in fact,my coach was the one who suggested it so I could make my jumps better). I just kept my abs stiff during everyday activities and eventually they pulled in on their own and even now I can still relax and my tummy stays flat.

Hrrrmmmm.. the consensus seems to weigh (no pun intended) a bit toward having to (or being conscious of having to) "suck it in" all the time.

I get that, fo' shizzle. It's good to have a strong core. I'll keep working on strengthening exercises as well as those "vacuums" that "soon2Bbuff chick" lalabanana directed me to in order to help prevent distended abs. I think that those exercises support much of what many have already posted here.

One of my physical hurdles is that I have this genetically related over-developed diaphragm. I'm muscular already and have no interest in being "body-builder-buff", but I'm thinking I have to REALLY beef up my chest muscles or else it looks like I'm hosting an Alien. Don't want to be "barrel-chested" but it beats being "barrel-bellied," I suppose.

I really appreciate everyone's input on this!

I've been holding in my stomach muscles for 35 years and I still have paunch if I let it go.

Actually, it's the fat on the bottom of my abdomen that I am trying to hide. If I was skinny, when I pull it in as far as I try to now, my tummy would be convex.

Question:  When someone holds their stomach in.....what exactly are you holding in (e.g., air, muscles)?

Back in college, when I started really exercising, I noticed that if I "sucked it in" it took a lot of work at first, but after it became more of a habit, it didn't take much effort.  You just get those muscles stronger and more effective.  Much like someone who hasn't walked in a while because of an injury - at first, it is really difficult, but after a lot of work, it becomes natural.

Mind you, it might not make a huge difference if you have a lot of belly fat, but I'm 50 pounds overweight and it makes a difference for me (hard to maintain it, though).

And for nishelby,  "sucking it in" can actually mean different things.  You can hold your breath in and have the effect, but that is DEFINITELY not sustainable, but what most people mean is tightening your abdominal muscles (envision pulling your belly button toward your backbone).  Those muscles just have to be trained to do it.

I had no idea people actually tried to suck in their bellies all the livelong day.  This is fascinating to me.  I can only imagine how uncomfortable that must be, not to mention no good for breathing.

^ This.

I had no idea people bothered. I'm sure even if I tried, the moment I focused on something else I would forget and let it out!

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I suck my stomach in almost all the time. I've done it for so long that I don't even think about it. When I relax my stomach I don't have a bulge or anything. My stomach is probably one of the only things I'm happy with! I just do it out of habit because I was about 10 pounds heavier 4 or so years back (and sucking in then made a huge difference!)

Now...if I could somehow suck my love handles in...that would be great!

eta: I know when I suck my stomach in it doesn't interfere with my breathing. It has nothing to do with air, I just pull my ab muscles in. Belly button to spine type thing.

I find it helps to hold it in heaps even though the fat on top makes it still look plump but I try hard after pregnancy and c-section with my lower abs - let's face it, pregnancy and birth teach you to push the muscles out and even regular crunches cause the muscles to bulge OUT - all we are doing is teaching the muscles to go OUT - I hold in and consciously hold in while typing, walking and riding (horse) and have noticed about 3/4" difference over a month just from that - retraining the muscles to hold IN, not push out.  That's the psychology I use for it anyway - being a horsewoman I have excellent abs and core strength already anyway but just fat over the top.  *Sigh* very challenging as it is hard to build muscle to burn fat, when you already HAVE muscle there :-( but yes definitely agree with the stomach being critical to core.  Just watch you concentrate on abs, and don't strain the lumbar - thoracic spine.



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