How to Instantly Add More Weight to Your Lifts
Written by: Coach Slater
Look, we can’t talk enough about bracing. Can’t. Effective bracing is a head-to-toe endeavor and it may be the most important thing we can teach you at Derby City.
Here are three easy steps to brace more effectively and thereby instantly add more weight to your lifts:
1. Establish three points of contact with the ground: your heel planted on the floor with your big toe and pinky toe actively pressing into the floor. We do this to evenly distribute your weight over the middle of your foot. By doing so, you’re creating a dynamic base so shifts in pressure become more obvious, so you don’t drift too far forward on your toes or backward on your heels. This concept of three points of contact is an idea we picked up from Dr. Quinn Henoch.
2. Create tension in your hips via your feet. “Knees Out” is probably the most common cue, and it gets the job done, but “Spread the Floor” is a cue that Coach Shark loves, and it tends to be extremely effective for people who squat with a wider stance. Imagine opening the earth up beneath your feet, splitting it wide open, ripping the floor apart. “Screw Your Feet in the Floor” is a cue I use because, for it to work, I think you have to focus on the concept of three points of contact with your feet. With that cue, plant your feet then apply a force like you’re trying to point your toes toward opposite walls and your heels toward each other, but not actually allowing them to shift/turn.
The last cue I like, but which is a little dirtier, is “Spread Your Taint”. This cue is from Powerlifting legend, Ed Cohen, so don’t get angry at me for mentioning it. Here’s the thing, when we tell people “Knees Out”, sometimes they bow their legs and place unnatural force on the knee joint. If you open up from the taint (perineum) and groin area rather than the knees, you create tension in the legs while keeping the hip flexors relaxed and without placing undue stress on the knees.
3. Lastly, brace your abdomen by starting with a deep, diaphragmatic breath into your stomach and not your chest. If your shoulders rise when you take your breath, you’re doing it wrong. You’re trying to create 360 degrees of expansion in your chest via breath, inflating your entire torso while keeping your spine extended but ribs down. So, your breath should press out into your belt, but also around your side and in your lower back. You’re not just pressing your stomach out as if you’re pregnant; you’re trying to inflate your obliques.
Using breath to create intraabdominal pressure then contracting your core muscles will unequivocally stabilize your spine. When you exhale, you’ve decreased the intraabdominal pressure, so the muscles that stabilize your spine now have to work harder to keep you from folding in two. By actively breathing as mentioned, you’ll create the most rigid torso possible; but to do it effectively, you have to focus on inhaling and exhaling fully instead of taking short, choppy breaths.
So, that’s it. Effective bracing in three easy steps. If you have a question about any of these techniques or cues, ask us!