Spectators sitting amongst the crowd watching pro bodybuilding shows are likely to have expectations of what they will see when entering the venue: larger-than-life figures with aesthetic physiques with paper-thin skin who are conditioned to the nines and posing routines reminiscent of an art display. While posing has some requirements regarding what poses an athlete must perform for the judges depending on the division, such as a front double-biceps and lat spread in Men’s Open, the rest of a bodybuilder’s performance is primarily up to them.
One pose seen regularly on competitive bodybuilding stages is the vacuum pose, where an athlete’s midsection is sucked in to visually minimize the waist in relation to their V-taper. On March 14, 2023, Hunter Labrada took to his YouTube channel to display how to execute a vacuum pose properly. Check it out below:
Labrada gave the disclaimer that despite being one of the top Men’s Open competitors on the planet, he is not the most experienced with vacuum posing but has made significant improvements with it recently. He shared his exercises to tighten up his vacuum since giving it specific attention.
For those first learning to hit a vacuum pose, don’t expect it to work overnight. When Labrada initially tried to vacuum pose, he “could barely get [his] belly button past [his] sternum.” That has improved over time, particularly when posing fasted. Labrada’s inspiration for practicing his vacuum pose is the visual appeal of a tighter waist, an element of his game he feels needs improvement following the 2022 Mr. Olympia, where he fell to seventh place from his fourth-place rank in 2021.
Hitting a Vacuum Pose
The most important aspect of a vacuum pose is expelling all the air out of the diaphragm before pulling the stomach inward. Attempting a vacuum while exhaling will make it more challenging to get that scooped appearance of a full vacuum shot than expelling all air first.
Think about trying to pull your belly button to your spine.
A vacuum pose involves many physical elements beyond one’s musculature and leanness. Labrada suggests the optimal time to practice vacuums are after waking up when the body doesn’t have food or liquid that could hinder that belly button to spine cue.
There are three positions Labrada practices his vacuums in. The first is in a semi-supine position where he will hit and hold a vacuum for four reps. The second is standing, bent over, and braced on a weight bench. Each rep goes to effective failure, where he holds the vacuum for as long as possible and is noticeably out of breath when he releases.
It is uncomfortable. Try to fight through it.
The final position is hitting the vacuum with elbows overhead, similar to an abs-and-thighs pose. Once out of air, inhale to a tightened abs position rather than releasing the contraction entirely.
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Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram