Okay so maybe a slightly misleading title (lol) but it serves a purpose. One of the most common expressions in powerlifting is bracing your core… But, what does that really mean? Too many people, brace incorrectly, leading to lifting less weight and increasing the possibility of injuries in the short term.
So to start off let me share this post by a great USAPL lifter: Derrington Wright he outlines how to effectively brace your core and it is a great starting point.
Bracing- Explanation in the simplest way possible… WRONG- Big air in your chest RIGHT- Big air in "belly" or make yourself look fat. Something that'll help you understand where to take your air in is KettleBell Breathing, which is also a great core exercise. Place kettle bell on your belly button. Exhale- let kb sink in Inhale- Push the kb up as much as possible with the air you take in. Then squeeze it!!! #RoadToArnold #sbdusa #sbdusa #andersonpowerlifting #sbd #livethelion #drugfreestrength #Strongman #godgivenstrength #sorenomore #powerlifting #metroflexftw #uspa #metroflex #gym #Lft #Exercise #FitFam #Fitness #GymTime #Health #Preva #intexaswelift #unitedlifters #Workout #dedicated #hardwork #USAPL
As you can see in the post, he mentions the fault that lifters commonly make. Taking big air into your chest as opposed to your belly. This is an extremely common fault and one which I have made on several occasions. Derrington goes on to demonstrate a valid exercise which can help in reminding you to brace your core. While he uses a kettlebell I would suggest using a small plate like a 5 or 10 lb plate you could place on your belly. This would help you to focus on pushing out as you would against a belt.
I think that bracing, especially in the squat and the deadlift is the most essential element of being able to safely lift the most weight possible. To some degree in the bench, it is essential as well. A lot of people like to hold their breath throughout the unrack and the rep/set and release at the end. This again is a matter of preference, I like to breathe as I push through my sticking point in the same way I do in squat and deadlift.
But, the most important thing is to fill up your core bracing your abs as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach. This is easier to cue when you use a belt but doing this exercise as I mentioned can help you too. Regardless of the cue’s that you use to brace or the way that you do it, find a method which works well for you and ensures to fill your belly with air to engage your abs and protect yourself while you lift. Leave a comment with any other suggestions or tips and remember strength has no limit!