Strength tip Saturday

Creating Intra – abdominal pressure to ensure spinal stability while lifting.

An overlooked but incredibly important part of lifting big weights is the technique of breathing whilst in the weight room. I recently heard a University PT advocate that one should inhale, as she said, on the concentric (‘down’ portion of the squat) part of the lift and exhale on the eccentric (‘up’ portion of the squat). This is just plain wrong.

Lifts that involve spinal loading such as squats, deadlifts and jerks for example, should involve the individual taking a ‘belly breath’. To do this look at yourself in a mirror and take a breath into your belly. Your shoulders should not rise, instead your abdomen should expand pushing against your waistband, creating a tight, hard core. If you lift with a belt, use the belt as a cue by actively pushing your air filled abdomen into the belt. The result of this action will increase the ‘tightness’ of your body that is so often talked about when lifting weights. Being tight and strong throughout the core is an absolute must, and will contribute to protecting your spine during loading.

When lifting maximal effort weights it is also advisable to use what’s called Partial Valsalva. This is essentially when a belly breath is taken and the individual attempts to exhale BUT without letting air escape. Imagine a particularly strenuous time experienced by all some time or another on the toilet. Yes you are reading right, I am talking about replicating your breathing like you have serious constipation problems. It’ll allow you to lift heavier weights and protect your spine while you do it, honestly!

If you’d like to read more, here’s a great article on all things breathing in the weight room.


Strong Body. Strong Mind

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