Vacuum Pose: Learning the Art of This Classic Bodybulding Look

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In the world of bodybuilding when someone is discussing the topic of vacuums, there’s a good chance they’re not talking about the latest Dyson model. Rather, they are most likely discussing the vacuum pose, which became a critical pose for bodybuilders back in the Golden Era of bodybuilding.

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s the vacuum pose was a critical pose that top bodybuilders needed to perfect. Golden Era legends like Arnold, Leroy Colbert, and Mike Mentzer were able to hit incredible vacuum poses and paved the way for one of the best vacuum posers of all time: Frank Zane.

Related: The Ultimate Arnold Schwarzenegger Photo Timeline

Considered by many as the godfather of aesthetics, Zane ruled the stage in the late 1970’s taking home three Mr. Olympia titles. With his ability to keep a tight waist on stage and hold one of the most perfect vacuum poses seen on the Olympia stage, Frank Zane became the poster boy for the vacuum pose.

Brently Rousset Discusses vacuum posing and why you may need it.

In an interview with Frank Zane back he stated he always finished his routine on stage with the vacuum pose because it was his best post and it always brought the house down. He also went on to state that the vacuum is a lost art in today’s big-time competitions.

Today’s world of bodybuilding has done away with the mastery and craft of the vacuum pose. The modern monsters of today’s sport are judged on their mass, striations, and how big you can be while still being shredded. The art of being able to suck your stomach in and maintain a tight, small waist while posing on stage has disappeared from world of bodybuilding… Until now.

With the implementation of the new IFBB category, Classic Physique, the days of tight, small waists and wide, thick backs will be back in the spotlight. This category will bring the Golden Era of bodybuilding back into the mainstream, thus bringing back the art and craft of the vacuum pose.

Benefits of the Vacuum Pose

While the vacuum pose is important for bodybuilders looking to tighten their waists and give their bodies a more significant V-taper look, the vacuum pose can be used by anyone looking to tighten their waist and strengthen their lower back. Vacuum posing has been popularized by the Golden Era bodybuilders, but also holds deep roots within the practice of yoga.

Practicing vacuum posing engages your transverse abdominis, which lies underneath your rectus abdominis and obliques. The rectus abdominis and oblique muscles within your midsections are what produced that shredded, six-pack look everyone desires, which is why the transverse abdominis is normally forgotten about when it comes to abdominal training.

The transverse abdominis lies deep underneath the rectus abdominis and runs across your midsection from left to right. You can think of the transverse abdominis as a natural belt or band within your midsection that assists with supporting both your upper body and internal organs.

Like with any muscle within your body you want to focus on training your transverse abdominis safe, smart, and effective. Most individuals rarely or have never focused on strengthening this area of their body so knowing how to train the transverse abdominis is important.

Vacuum Exercises

Perfecting the vacuum pose is not easy, but as with anything practice makes perfect. These exercises will help you strengthen your transverse abdominis and produce a stronger midsection overall.

Supine Vacuum

Lie on your back with your hips and knees flexed so your feet are flat. Exhale as much air out of your body as possible so that you are raising your diaphragm.

After you have exhaled, suck in your stomach in an attempt to bring your navel in and as close to your spine as possible. The further you suck in, the more you transverse abdominis if being contracted.

Kneeling Vacuum

Places your knees and hands on the ground or a mat as if you were turning your body into a bench to sit on. As with the supine vacuum, exhale as much air as possible then suck your navel in towards your spine.

This movement will be a little more difficult as your stomach will be facing down and you will be working harder against gravity as you attempt to activate your transverse abdominis.

Seated Vacuum

As the name of the exercise states you will perform this vacuum exercise in a seated position.
For further difficulty to really engage your rectus abdominis and obliques for stabilization at the same time, try performing the seated vacuum on a Swiss ball.

Working your way from the supine to the kneeling to the seated vacuum will have your transverse abdominis and midsection primed and ready to perform the vacuum to perfection while standing. Work on being able to hold the vacuum within each one of these positions for 30-60 seconds before moving onto the next vacuum exercise.

Final Thoughts

Performing 3-4 sets of vacuum exercises 2-3 days a week will not only help you strengthen your midsection, but teach you how to flex and tighten your abs in ways you’ve never done before. By strengthening your transverse abdominis through these vacuum poses you will also help strengthen your lower back, allowing you to improve your posture and strength within other lifts.

For more fitness and nutrition tips subscribe to the MuscleMinds Youtube channel and follow me on Instagram @thebrentness.

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Name: Brently Rousset

Bio: Born, raised, and currently residing in beautiful San Diego, CA, I've been around some form of fitness almost my entire life. My mom was an aerobics teacher at the local gym when I was in elementary school through middle school. My dad had a full home gym in the garage and raced mountain bikes professionally through my high school years. My parents engrained the importance of health and fitness into me from a young age. I started playing soccer in my elementary days only to leave it behind for my true loves of basketball and surfing.