Core Stability is the synchronous action of the abdominal muscles along with the muscles of the back, hip, pelvic girdle, diaphragm and surrounding fascia. When working together they keep the spine in a safe and stable position while we move.
In order to recruit our core muscles prior to the squat the cue to “brace for a punch” is recommended. This action increases the stability of our lower back and locks it into a good neutral position. When we turn-on these muscles prior to the descent of the squat we proactively prepare our body to handle the load that we are trying to carry.
It is not enough to only brace for a punch when we squat. If you want to move massive weights in a safe manner you must also learn how to breathe properly.
“Breathe in on the way down and breathe out on the way up.” This is fine for an exercise involving lightweight and higher repetitions (i.e., bench press 3 sets of 10 reps). This breathing mechanic however is not entirely recommended when performing the barbell squat. Can you imagine what would happen if a powerlifter let out his entire breath on the way up from squatting 1,000 lbs?
When we squat heavy weight with a barbell (for example anything over 80% of your 1 rep-maximum), it is advised to take a large breath and hold it through the entire repetition. Usually this type of breathing is not needed for higher repetition sets with low weight. However, when you are squatting heavy for a few reps it is crucial. This breath should be taken prior to and in coordination with the cue to “brace for a punch”. Doing so allows us to dramatically stabilize our core.
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