How to Squat Heavier Part 1: Breathing and Bracing

Welcome everyone to the squat series! Since the squat is such a major lift with countless benefits I wanted to do a series where I break it down into parts and give you tips on how to improve each one. This week we will be talking about breathing and bracing. When I learned how to breathe and brace properly it helped my squat out so much. If you have never done this before then you are leaving pounds off of your squat!  

Now when I say breathe and brace many people think that it is just taking a deep breath and  holding it. However, it is so much more than that. This technique when done right has the ability to make you a stronger, more stable individual before your lift. Let’s get into how to do this technique!

Rule #1 Breathe into your belly NOT your chest

This was something I didn’t understand when I first started doing this. I would take a big breath in and hold it all in my chest. My squat wasn’t improving and I felt like my core was breaking down. The reason you don’t want to do this is because it is going to raise your center of gravity making you very unstable. You DON’T want to look like Johnny Bravo when you do this. Brian Alshrue (linked video below) said it best, you should think of your body as a soda can. When the can is at its strongest it is closed and holds all the pressure of the carbonation inside it. However, the can becomes very weak if you open it, pour out the contents and dent it. You are “denting your can” when you breathe into your chest and that is why it is hard to squat heavy weight. Your core will keep collapsing just like the soda can.  

When first learning, put your hand on your stomach and when you breathe in you should feel it rise. Another way to learn is to put your weight belt on, but not super tight. Next, breathe in and try to fill the extra space with the air you take in. These are good methods because you will get feedback right away if you did it properly.   

Rule #2 Get your air before you are under load (if possible)

Another mistake I see is people getting under a squat unracking it and then trying to take a breath. The problem with this is you are not able to get as much air as you possibly can when your body is already underload. If you are doing a squat then you should always take a big belly breath before unracking that weight. If you are able to hold that breath for the repetition that’s great. However, I know there are times when that’s not possible. If it is not possible then walk the weight out let out the air from the first breath and take another big belly breath before dropping into your squat. Just remember to breathe and brace if you are going to lift anything heavy. It will keep your core stable and help you stay healthy!   

Rule #3 Fill your body with air and then BRACE! 

Breathing and bracing has two parts. The breath and then the brace. I know it’s right in the name, but I still see people take a big breath in and that is all they do. This technique is going to work best if you master both parts. After you take in the breath and you fill your belt it is now time to brace your core. Now when you do this it doesn’t mean flex your abs as you would to show off. It actually means the opposite. You want to push your abs out and then brace them down. It should not be a flattering look if a picture was taken of you. Doing this ensures that your core is strong. I will link the video where he explains this more in depth below.

  

Conclusion

I hope you guys found this information useful and are able to go get some squat PRs! Just like anything it is going to take practice. I still don’t have it perfected, but I keep working at it. This technique will make you an overall stronger lifter, so it is worth the time and effort. If you need a more in depth look at this topic Brian Alsure (the video I have linked above) has a few different videos on the subject. I cannot say enough great things about that guy. I have learned so much from him and really recommend checking him out! 

Thanks again and remember to come back next week for part 2 of the squat series. In the meantime check out our other content! Also, don’t forget to sign up for our email list. You’ll receive free printable goal planning sheets and be able to keep up with all our latest content! See ya next time!

-Sean    

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