Build a stronger back squat with proper bracing technique.
Learning to brace properly is essential for training and increasing your back squat numbers. Bracing is used to hold the core tight by increasing intra abdominal pressure inside the abdominal cavity. By holding this pressure the core becomes more stable and will resist against unwanted movement at the spine. Bracing properly increases your ability to progress safely and eventually build a stronger back squat.
1) UPPER BACK TENSION
Whether you’re using the low bar pressure grip, or the high bar back rack, the next is to build tension in the upper back and shoulder blades so that the bar has a solid position against the body. If we don’t have a tight upper back the shoulder blades can collapse forward causing the bar to shift. As you unrack the bar squeeze your shoulder blades together like your pinching a penny between them. Next you want to pull your elbows toward your midline. This will engage your lats which aid in keeping your back and core stable (benefits of core stability here).
2) BELLY BREATHE
Now you have unracked the bar in the proper position and have upper back tension. The next step is to take in a full breathe into your belly. The goal here is to expand everything beneath your ribcage without your chest and shoulders rising. A common mistake is breathing into the ribcage resulting in the shoulders rising and a shallow breathe. In order to take in the most air you want to feel your belly expand and even feel pressure down into your pelvis (more specifically your pelvic floor). When you begin to suck in air try and feel the breathe move downward. This is a crucial step in filling the abdominal cavity with air and increasing pressure for a tight core.
3) PUSHING THE OBLIQUES OUT
With all of the air you have in your belly hold your breathe and push your obliques out. This is slightly different from what is usually taught. The common cure to bracing is pushing the belly forward against the belt or pushing the belly button out. The fault seen here is some athletes do this to the extreme and push the belly forward too much. This can lead to an arched low back or the chest bent to far downward. With the air in your belly attempt to push and hold the air down and outward against your obliques. This will build tension in the entire abdominal cavity. The belly will naturally push forward but you have the added tightness against your obliques and low back. If you’re wearing a lifting belt you want to push your obliques outward against the belt. If you do this correctly you will feel tightness against the entire circumference of your waist and belt.
Practice before the big lifts
If you have a belt on or not, try this technique before the weight gets heavy. Practice each part and begin to tie them together as you get to the heavier sets. Eventually this will become second nature but the goal is to practice this with every warm up set as though you are about to lift something heavy.
If you need help using this technique ask a coach! We’d be happy to help.
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