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Vacuum Leg Raises

bodybuilder exercise

As a bodybuilder you not only want a smaller waist and tight lower abs, you need a smaller waist and tight lower abs. In fact, whatever you can do to minimize waist size and get those lower abs shredded is going to have a huge visual impact on your physique—more so than pretty much any other single area of your body.

That’s  where this exercise comes in. The action will forcibly suck in your gut on every single rep while putting tremendous tension on the lower aspect of the rectus abdominis.

How to do it: This exercise can be done with several different pieces of equipment. The best place is the dipping station, whether it be the full V-bar setup or the two dip handles coming off the back of a Universal machine.

You can also create your own dip station in the power rack by setting the safety rails at about midchest level and putting two Olympic bars on the safety rails. When you stand in between the two bars, it will be just like using a dip station.

Set your hands on the dipping bars or handles and get into the top position of the dip—arms locked.

Bring your hips upward toward the ceiling. The coaching cue I like to use is a bit strange, but bear with me: Imagine that a giant is giving you a wedgie (told you).

This will cause your lower body to lift up and your upper body to hunch forward. Draw your lower body up as high as you possibly can with this technique; then hold it there, and squeeze the abs hard for a few seconds.

The movement is very similar to what you’d see in men’s gymnastics on the parallel bars—the first part of the movement in which a person goes from a locked-out dip position on the parallel bars up into a handstand. Rather than going all the way up into a handstand, however, you leave your legs in front of you and focus on squeezing and sucking up your abs.

Lower slowly, and  then repeat.

There are two key things to keep in mind on this one:

1) This exercise does not occur at the arms but only at the midsection. If the arms bend, you’ll be taking focus off the abs. Keep your arms locked out.

2) This is a very controlled movement, not a momentum-based movement. Don’t let your legs swing and try to get them up with momentum. The movement starts by drawing the abs up and in and raising the hips as high as you can.

This is an excellent waist-tightening, lower-ab-targetinv exercise that can have a major visual impact on your physique. I recommend performing one or two sets at the end of every single workout in order to maximize its vacuum effect.

You’ll start seeing a big difference in your abs in just a few weeks!

Remember to keep your arms locked out and in the same position throughout the movement. The motion will not come from your arms.

—Nick Nilsson

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