Friday, February 25, 2011

A simple thing that makes you squat better

Squatting is quite technical, come to think of it. Coach Rippetoe mentioned that the starting position of the squat i.e. your stance is very important to ensure that your form is perfect. But I'm not gonna write about that. Simply because I am not qualified.

What I am going to write about is my stupidity when it comes to squatting. This comes from the person who has read Pavel's book Power to the People front to back three times. Goes to show I can be a slowpoke at times.

Mr. Tsatsouline has always emphasized on keeping your muscle tense throughout a lifting movement. It will provide you with more strength and stability. Granted, it takes practice to consciously tense up your muscle at will. At least for me, it took some time to remember to really, really brace my abs and 'pinch a coin' between my cute butt cheeks (too much info, hahaha) when I'm about to lift.

It makes a world of difference. Tensing up my muscles definitely made the lift easier to execute. I'll try to activate more of my upper body muscles for my overhead presses. Like I said, it takes practice to consciously brace your muscles.


KevL said...

You know what? I absolutely hate bracing the abs when I'm doing anything more than a rep. It makes breathing so hard and with each rep my abs tend to loosen up to give way to all that heavy breathing.

But when it comes to 1RM? Tensed abs coupled with VM translate to great intra-abdominal pressure and strength, which are a must for 1RM pulls.

Oh btw, I used to do 100% abs brace for my deadlifts but Poliquin has something else to say about isometric contrations:

"Twenty years ago, we were told by the University teachers that should exert maximal force (100%) during the isometric contraction. This advice has unfortunately led to many muscle tears. However in the mid-eighties some evidence came out that one should in fact only need to contract at a suggestive 25% of maximal strength to inhibit the inhibitory mechanims."

The talk was on P.N.F. though; not exclusively on isometric contractions.


Aizan Suhaira said...

You indeed need to hold your breath in when you brace. But it is also not advisable to fill up the diaphragm 'full tank'... it should be about 75% full, and when you release your breath it should be partial as well.

I'm not good at describing and unlike you I don't like quoting here and there. I'm lazy that way. Plus I'm just telling what works on me.

But when I squat, I hold my breath as long as it takes to finish 1 rep. Then release (I used to release all the air out but I discovered releasing it slowly helps a lot). Repeat for as many reps for the set.

I won't be able to hold my breath for even 2 reps. I might go purple before I even start the second rep.

KevL said...

Guess I was being silly to fill it full tank. It's like doing a plank and deadlift/squat at the same time.

I tried bracing the abs slightly today though, and managed to maintain that same intensity throughout my squat sets without having any breathing problems. Worked my abs too.

About going purple.. there were few occasions where I almost blacked out using the VM method on my 1RMs. At the deadlift lockout, my eyes went blank for a few seconds. Nasty stuff.

Aizan Suhaira said...

Yeah, the abs play a huge role as stabilizers when doing big lifts like squats, deads and even benchpress.

You might want to review your VM method. Could it be that you're doing it wrong? I think that almost blacking out indicates that there might be something amiss.