“The trick is to keep breathing 1” Something that helps with dead-lifts and dumbell squats

dead-liftSo, I learned this trick from one of Pavel Tstastoline’s (a.k.a. the evil Russian) books on weightlifting. This technique lies behind many “hard style” Iron Shirt techniques in Chinese Gung Fu, and also forms the basis of some Hatha Yoga techniques as well.

Basically it is Breath compression.

By using a heavy lifter’s belt whilst lifting heavy objects you are actually weakening your back because your core, being artificially supported, doesn’t have to exert as much effort. Outwardly this seems safer, but in reality you may be setting yourself up for further injuries and retarding your progress.

Why dead-lift to begin with? It increases testosterone massively, and done right it enhances over-all body strength by working out almost every major muscle group in your body.

In any case, by using your body’s own core muscles as a virtual belt, tensing your gut (NOT sucking in. Rather tensing up like you were about to take a punch) you can support your inner organs, and also cause additional tension in any muscles currently, well, tensed.

The principle is irradiation. Squeeze your hand around a tennis ball. Notice how hard you can squeeze it. Now, at the same time, squeeze your other arm tightly too. The ball holding hand should increase in muscle tension.

The same thing happens when you tense your core muscles. Tense up your abdominal muscles very lightly while inhaling, tense them hard while exhaling, and you form a tight band, like a girdle, holding your inner organs in place while you exert yourself.

If you hold your breath and exert, as if you are trying to push air out but holding it in, you can succeed in

a) Blacking out.

b) Having an aneurysm.

c) Generating massive core strength through a supreme tension of your muscles.

To avoid the first two unfortunate consequences, try breathing out slightly, slowly, but in a fluid movement.

This is highly useful while moving heavy objects, I discovered while helping a friend move into an apartment.

It really, really, helps me keep good form while dead-lifting and squatting.

It also makes the abs stronger. Much stronger. Do 5 minute sets of this sort of controlled breathing a day, but carefully. You don’t want to blow a gasket in your head…

I enjoy dead-lifting. It scrapes my shins up, and doesn’t really bulk me up. Oddly though I am becoming much stronger. My appearance is unaltered, but my core is becoming bizarrely stronger. Plus it just feels… manly.

Barbell squatting too, is enjoyable. I felt some real fear starting without a belt, but using this breath trick, and just focusing on keeping good tight form, I found myself able to squat and lift loads I would have not even imagined before.

Like Henry Rollins said

“.. I can feel it when I close my eyes.

And this is good.

And this is good.

And this is good…”

2 Comment

  1. Cerberus says:

    Starting Strength, by Mark Ripptoe, (a fantastic book on these basic lifts) also recommends this type of breathing while doing squats and deadlifts. It definitely helps a lot.

    I practice Hung Gar Gung Fu. I doubt I will ever go far enough to learn the ‘Iron Shirt’ form, but I understand it is mainly about breathing and internal tension.

  2. There is something almost magical it seems about combining internal tension with well modulated breathing.

    I will look for Starting Strength, it sounds like a useful book.

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