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 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 the top bodybuilders in the world needed to perfect.
Vacuum posing is so closely associated with bodybuilding and the art of bodybuilding posing that it tends to be forgotten about as a crucial tool to be used by everyone.
Benefits of the Vacuum Pose
While the vacuum pose is important for bodybuilders looking to achieve a more aesthetic 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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.