The Basics of Bracing
Bracing correctly is a fundamental part of lifting heavy. Done well, bracing protects you from injury and makes lifts more efficient by helping transfer strength more directly into the barbell. Done poorly, bracing leaves kilos off the bar at best and a lifter open to potential injury at worst.
Many new trainees have been taught previously to breath in on the way down, out on the way up. This is, somewhat, acceptable at very low intensity training loads – but only because the risk of injury is minimal at those loads to begin with. This method leaves the lifter with the least stability, in the position that requires the MOST stability (eg the bottom of a squat, or bench press).
Bracing correctly is simple: take a big breath in, and contract your abdominals/obliques to ‘brace’ against this increase pressure. You want to be actively contracting, much as if you were doing a big poop. This air/contraction is achieved before the lift and held for the entire rep – only to be released once you return the finished position (eg the top of a squat or bench press).
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