Frank Zane has been recognized for the last 50 years as being the king of the vacuum pose. The Classic Mr. Olympia division is bringing the pose back in vogue. Perhaps the stomach vacuum was employed less and less, starting in the 1990s, as bodybuilder’s bodyweight’s skyrocketed resulting from muscle(and whatever else) gains associated with insulin, growth hormone, and higher androgenics usage, along with the amount of calories necessary to maintain the higher bodyweights. Besides Zane, another bodybuilder who competed in the 1960s and 70s and stood out as a master of the vacuum pose, was Arnold Schwarzenegger. This was despite Schwarzenegger being a larger bodybuilder that had a competition bodyweight of 235 lbs and, no doubt, consumed a lot of calories. The generation of bodybuilders brought up on GH and insulin are stressing their digestive systems way beyond the previous generation of bodybuilders. Most would likely compete at a lower bodyweight than Schwarzenegger if they were “limited” by 1970’s drugs. Insulin , GH, and tren existed when Arnold was competing but they hadn’t made their way into the bodybuilding world. Today, it seems, like almost anyone with average genetics could be a lean 235 if they’re willing to shorten their lifespan and have their lives centered around stuffing their faces all day. They might not look good, but they could be 235 lbs. But even the top guys at the open Mr. Olympia(not the Classic), and that may partially mean the guys with the best response to drugs, look like their guts are too full to pull off a vacuum, so they don’t even try. And that may be a result of something beyond a bloated stomach, like inflamed internal organs due to drug use.
Although Zane owns the “arms over head vacuum pose”, which also showcased his serratus muscles, Schwarzenegger either never did that particular pose or photos of him doing it are rare. On the other hand, Schwarzenegger incorporated the vacuum into his front double biceps pose which Zane either seldom or never did. Here is an example of Schwarzenegger doing a front double biceps pose with a stomach vacuum.
Below is an animated gif of Frank Zane doing a single biceps pose variation with a stomach vacuum along with an example of what it would look like if Zane had incorporated a stomach vacuum into a front double biceps pose. Should Zane have included a front double biceps pose with a vacuum into his repertoire?
5’9″ Frank Zane is recognized as having a lighter bone structure but his ribcage didn’t appear slight. Zane had well-developed supporting muscles like the serratus which complimented his vacuums. Chris Bumstead is 6’1″ and would be considered more Arnold’s size than Zane’s but Zane may have had a larger ribcage than Bumstead. Bumstead actually appears to have a smaller waist structure than Zane, who is known to be narrow waisted. Bumstead, and a lot of current bodybuilder’s don’t seem to train their external oblique muscles because it would add to their waist width. The Classic Mr. Olympians have to be particular where they add size due to their weight limits, which are based on their heights. Since muscle “real estate” is so valuable, they’d likely rather have an extra pound on their biceps rather than added to their obliques. Zane, on the other hand, trained his obliques and they were well-developed.
Well developed obliques were popular in classical sculptures as well. They provided a distinct distinction and separation between the upper and lower body. But weight limits may be the only thing ultimately keeping Classic Mr. Os from reverted to Open Mr. Os, which the Classic was/is supposed to counter, so, oblique development gets lost in the shuffle where bodyweight is a limited resource. The obliques, however, “bracket” your abs, which move backwards in a vacuum pose, creating the illusion of more vacuum depth because your obliques are a “structure” that stays in place(forward) as your abs move backwards. More developed obliques add to the look of more concaveness in a stomach vacuum.
Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro tweeted an image of Gerard Buinoud recently and it reminded me of the type of oblique development that is seen less today but was more popular in classical sculpture.
Chris Bumstead’s obliques appear less developed if compared to Zane, Schwarzenegger, Buinoud, or classic sculptures, which may also give him a narrower waist but somewhat limit the appearance of the depth of his stomach vacuum.
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