How To Brace Your Core!
Bracing is an extremely controversial subject when it comes to fitness.
So many people are telling their workout partners to “brace your core,” or “squeeze your abs.”
The problem is that most people don’t know what that means!
In the above picture you can clearly see a difference between how I am “bracing."
On the left, I am “sucking it in,” which is what a lot of people think about when they reference to bracing their core.
We live in a society that is conditioned to look skinny, thin or all tight and trim.
The problem is that most people’s reference center is revolved around that mentality. They walk around with vacuum stomachs that never allow for diaphragmatic movement.
Weightlifting isn’t supposed to look pretty now.
The byproduct of lifting will change your aesthetics later.
Lifting is all about structural integrity, and that means creating a strong base or “strong core.”
In the above picture on the right you can see how I am pushing my stomach outward. This is creating a seal of abdominal pressure, very similar to a Coke can that has yet to be opened.
With that being said, it is important to understand that most people feel back pain in lifts such as a deadlift due to a lack of abdominal stability.
If the core is not tight, stable and sealed it will leak the pressure to surrounding muscles, which tend to be the low-back.
So how do you brace?
The simplest way to understand is through breathing. Follow along to the instructions below as you read.
Take a slow (5 second) breath in through your nose, keep inhaling until you can no longer do so. Let the air out through your mouth. Do this five (5) times.
Now take that same breath but quicker, and when you go to exhale breathe out with force like you’re blowing out birthday candles. Do this five (5) more times and observe what your stomach is doing.
If you’re doing it right so far you should feel your stomach expanding (while inhaling) and contracting (while exhaling).
From here, the next step is to take your breath in, and just as you’re about to forcefully exhale restrict your airways from letting the air out of your mouth. At this point you should feel increased pressure in your stomach.
After holding that for a few seconds finally let the air out of your mouth and do it four (4) more times.
Each time you hold that outward pressure in is considered a brace; otherwise known as the Valsalva Maneuver.
That is the simplest way to understand bracing.
Where most people affiliate it with a tight and toned core, it’s actually more about a feeling of fullness and tightness around your abdominal wall.
So stop lifting to look a certain way while you lift and start lifting to FEEL a certain way.
Observe your body, feel your body and listen to all of the great feedback it gives to you, especially while lifting weights.
Hopefully this article helps you.
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