Simple Adjustment To Immediately Improve Squat Bracing
Two big issues many powerlifters struggle with while bracing is chest breathing and elbow position, but fortunately one small adjustment can take care of both of these issues. Scroll to the 2nd video for a full breakdown (CLICK HERE) or continue reading for a detailed explanation! As can be seen above we have two videos side by side (CLICK HERE), the left showing the common fault of many powerlifters, versus on the right what bracing should look like and what this small adjustment can lead to. It is often an issue that powerlifters breath deep into their chest as they brace, rather than into their diaphragm and expanding into the belt. This causes not only an inefficient brace, but notice how when my traps shrug and the shoulders elevate, that this also causes my shoulder to internally rotate and raise my elbows up too. The fix is simple, and that is to set the elbows and upper back before you brace. And all of these things you may already be doing, but just in the wrong order. It’s a common cue to set up the low bar position while in the rack like you are doing a lat pulldown. This creates tightness, upper back retraction, and shoulder depression that is coming from the lats and upper back muscles. But then once a lifter walks the bar out, many times they completely lose this. After they brace they try to reset their elbows and thoracic tightness, but they struggle to maintain that throughout the movement. So the small adjustment that kills two birds with one stone is to create that lat pulldown tension, depressing and retracting the shoulder, and then brace. This helps to lock in that elbow and upper back position, but maybe even more importantly it prevents us from chest breathing to the same degree. If we are actively using our lats and upper back to depress the shoulders, as we breath we will naturally breath more into our diaphragm, as now the shoulders cannot elevate and allow the room within the chest to breath in the same manner. At the same time though, we must be careful not to over extend at the lower back while doing this, but rather maintain neutrality at the lumbar spine and pelvis. To finish off this setup, after setting my upper back, I make sure to find tension within my abdominals and obliques so that as I brace I can remain neutral and draw the ribcage down into neutral alignment.