Category Archives: Isometrics

Inside Out – Vacuuming your Way to better Health and Powerful Abs

If you’ve read the two previous Inside Out articles you’ll have learnt how controlling the breath can help you both mentally and physically in the pursuit of a better you.
I wish to add to that now with one of the most beneficial abdominal exercises available.

It fits the Inside Out concept because this drill requires you to control the breath, in fact if you use the “Power Breathing” described in part I, it becomes an extremely tough exercise.
It also trains the Abs quite literally from the inside out, it is one of the few exercises that directly works the Transverse Abdominis, the bodies natural girdle.

One other benefit, and the reason it is used by Yogi’s and martial arts masters alike is the internal massage you get while performing the drill. For beginners to the exercise, don’t be surprised if you get some bowel action soon after training.

So, enough yapping, what actually is the drill?

It’s called the vacuum. Why this name? That will become clear in a moment.

It is best to learn this drill standing for the moment, but at a later stage you may perform it seated, or even lying down.
Here’s the breakdown:
1- Take a deep breath
2- Exhale this breath entirely until there is nothing in the lungs
3- WITHOUT inhaling, maximally expand the rib cage
4- Hold for a second or more
5- Relax and inhale
6- Take a full breath (in and out) before repeating from no 1

It is important that you do not inhale as you expand the chest. Think about sticking the chest as far forward as you possibly can.
As you have no air in the lungs, they will have shrunk in size. In normal breathing, expanding the chest will create a vacuum, the lungs will draw in air as they expand to fill this vacuum.
By not allowing air to enter the lungs, they are unable to expand, something else must move to fill the void. That some thing else is your abdomen.

The vacuum formed by expanding the chest will draw the diaphragm upwards, this will in turn pull the abdominal walls inwards, the waist will shrink to almost nothing, the organs will be compressed and lifted upwards.
This compression of the organs will stimulate them, massage them. As mentioned earlier this may stimulate the bowels into action.

You must try to remain relaxed as you perform the drill, it is done by air pressure, not muscular action.
Here’s how the early 1900 strongman Maxick describes it in his book Muscle Control:

“Complete Relaxation of the Abdominal Wall
Before any of the exercises of abdominal control can be successfully mastered, complete
relaxation of the abdominal muscles must be secured.
A body pose should be sought wherein all strain is removed from the abdominal muscles (Fig.
When there is proper relaxation, the muscle will offer no resistance to the touch. Feel the
muscles, and alter the balance of the body until all the muscles are quite soft.

Fig. 16 – The Vacuum

Depression of the Abdominal Wall
This is affected entirely by external atmospherical pressure ; and this exercise is the key to the
control, double, and one-sided abdominal isolations.
Deflate the lungs, and then thrust the chest forward (but not upwards), as shown in Fig. 16. If
the abdominal muscles are properly relaxed, the atmospheric pressure from without will push them
back in the manner shown in Fig. 16, the lungs being empty, and the chest thrust forward.
There must he no abdominal muscular effort to effect this. It is repeated that they must be in a
state of complete relaxation, offering no assistance on their own account, and no resistance to the
external atmospheric pressure.
If the chest be lifted Upwards, the abdominal muscles will not have sufficient play to be pressed

Maxick was a huge proponent of isometric training or “Muscle Control” and was well know for having great strength despite his small size, often outlifitng much larger competitors.

Bodybuilders can often be seen performing the Vacuum in their pose downs, although I prefer the real world applications of improved organ health, core strength and body control.
Working this drill will increase total core strength, quite literally from the inside out leading to increased stiffness when striking or lifting and durability when taking a hit.
It will go a long way towards alleviating nagging back pain and can enhance the health and function of the internal organs.
Not bad for a simple, almost forgotten, do anywhere drill.

Give it a go, your abs’ll be sore in ways you never felt before.


Wild Geese

Doce Pares Ireland / Kenpo Karate / Self Protection / Security Training
+353 87 672 6090
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