Strength is a skill.
Foundational to that skill is your ability to breathe & brace correctly during heavy lifts – of all kinds, not just squats & snatches! So with newer athletes we always start by teaching people how to stand like Bruce Lee. Maximizing your intra-abdominal-pressure is key to both your safety and the long-term maximization of your potential. This is often called bracing, or getting into a hollow-body position, or simply protecting yourself from Ninja punches!
Safety is the fountainhead of progress. Embrace it.
This last weekend, I co-coached the Super Total certification with my old friend and colleague Chris Duffin. In it I learned even more great stuff (during Chris’s section on Saturday) on how to help new athletes learn to brace more effectively. These included a bunch of drills and assessment techniques that I (and my assistants, Eli and Dembo) will be running our own athletes through over the next few months.
As a rule, I find it easiest to teach new weightlifters how to apply these bracing and breathing techniques on a front squat. Eventually it all gets applied to back squats, snatches, jerks, etc. Of course, if the athlete needs more work on preliminaries, we’ll start with simple air-squats and work our way up.
Here’s a video of Emma, a relatively new lifter of ours, practicing the application of proper breathing and core bracing to a set of light front squats.
Even our more advanced squatters are working on the same material.
Here’s Eli with 225kg:
And Tamara working the same thing:
There is always more to learn. What makes our more advanced lifters capable of continuing to improve is that they are excited to learn new material that might help them.
Reaching your potential takes a very long time, perhaps an entire lifetime. If you fuck up your body too badly through unsafe training practices, you’ll end up preventing yourself from ever reaching your potential.
Spend time every workout practicing the skills that lead to safer lifting. You’ll have a longer — and therefore stronger — career for the effort.
Now go lift something heavy,