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Thread: Bracing and breathing

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    Bracing and breathing

    CORE BRACING AND BREATHING


    Over the last few months I've started to get stronger and feel a lot more stable in my lifts to start pushing more weight. After 30yrs of training its extremely hard to progressively lift heavier weight each week and you have to start implementing other methods like increasing intensity etc. The reason why I have got stronger is because I've gone back to some of my old power lifting techniques what I was taught in the first years of lifting. What's happened is I've got a lot stronger and injuries feel better and I'm far more stable in my lifts which bounced me into new growth.

    Bracing and breathing properly is an elite procedure but I am going to write a bit about it for those who don't know anything about it and how to do it so you explode in size and power. Bracing is a procedure what makes an extremely strong trunk and by bracing your core your lifts will be more powerful, stronger and you'll be less likely for injury.

    What happened to me was bracing and breathing was ingrained into how I lifted but over the years and my transition from power lifting to bodybuilding I slowly started to lose the proper bracing and breathing technique and I relied on my sheer strength and power what I had. Many bodybuilders breath and lock in a pre lift differently than power lifters and for me I've gone back to my old power lifting days to help me and I can't express enough what this as done for me.

    Bracing is simply tensing the core and the secondary muscles to create stiffness in the area so your trunk can withstand a lot of pressure and force which relates to a lot more power, but you have to learn to use the diaphragm to engage the core properly this is very important otherwise you wont be able to breath and brace which is the key to the whole process. Lowering and pushing the diaphragm down to activate the core comes naturally to me I can do it anytime anywhere but if your not use to doing this the best way to feel this happen is to push as much air out of your lungs as possible. While your doing this you will feel the core stiffen up and if you carry on pushing all the air out you will feel a pain and pressure just under your rib cage and this is your diaphragm pushing down to create this pressure so your trunk is full tensed. Once you experience this and learn how to activate this procedure you will be able to do it instantly and wont need to breath out and go though this to make sure your in the right position to lift, infact its very dangerous to breath out pre lift so don't use this method I've just explain above before a lift its a way for you to understand how to activate the diaphragm to get into the right position so you can breath while your lock into the brace. I do have an excellent video to show how to do this and goes through what I've explained above.

    Once you learn how to activate your diaphragm and make your trunk ridged you can start to learn how to breath properly through bracing. The last thing you want is to be tensed and not being able to breath during a heavy lift especially exhaling during the effort. Now to breath while bracing you have to breath through your stomach and not your chest. If you take a deep breath in and your chest expands and lifts up your not doing it right and the activated core will not be ridged anymore. You learn to push the stomach sideways and breath with the stomach and push the oblique's out, so they go sideways and outwards and lock into place , if you have a belt on you will be able to breath against this to help engage the secondary muscles for the brace and make sure your core is still engaged.

    So any overhead lift or power movement engage the core by bracing using the diaphragm then take deep breaths in through the stomach by pushing the stomach sidways and oblique's instead of the chest. I can do this within seconds and be ready for any kind of lift. To help me with my bracing and trunk stabilization ive trained my core, oblique's ( I know Kel will hate that one because it may thicken the waist but doesn't bother me if it helps me in other areas), spinal erectors, rectus abdominals and glutes.

    If you have never used bracing by lowering the diaphragm and breathing through the stomach it wont come easy, its something what you have to learn to do but once you master it and can implemented it at a seconds notice you will get far more better lifts, get stronger and be overall more stable. I've done this for the last 3 months and I've started to grow again and my lifts have gone through the roof, not just in the squat but anything such as shoulder press, incline press rows etc. When you brace properly your posture will be in a better position to handle more overhead weight, your spine will be more braced and the power what just flows is remarkable.


    I was talking to Almostgone via email one night and I was explaining to him about what I've been doing and I sent him a few videos to help get him started and from the feedback he's given me it looks like things are improving for him aswell, I am sure Almostgoine will update you all in the following few weeks how things are going but this is a must especially with HIT. I know we all lock and tense into lifts and then exhale on the effort but try bracing and creating that pressure in your core via your diaphragm and while your in it breath and get ready for your lift. All I can say is this is a remarkable tool to have and I feel so indestructible and powerful its showing in my thickness and size


    The videos are from another one of my hero's Chris Duffin

    First one more or less tells you the B & B for squatting but will also explain how to start learning how to get into this position, its not just for squats.

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    Hip flexibility

    Its all worth watching but its towards the end when Chris shows you how to work on the flexibility

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    Great post.

    Disclaimer-BG is presenting fictitious opinions and does in no way encourage nor condone the use of any illegal substances.
    The information discussed is strictly for entertainment purposes only.


    Everything was impossible until somebody did it!

    I've got 99 problems......but my squat/dead ain't one !!

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    Excellent Marcus!

    Cheers for this!

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    These techniques are well worth the time it takes to learn them. I'm much more stabilized on all my rowing movements, can target the back/lats better, and have bumped up my weights. They have really done some magic on my reverse hacks because I added a plate and a quarter/ side after implementing them. I can tell there will be more improvement to come because the more I incorporate these tools, the more effective they become.
    I've had squatting issues for ages, but I am really looking forward to getting back into the groove of squatting. Pretty sure this will be a huge part of getting it right because the breathing and bracing naturally puts your core and back into a strong position.
    Many thank to Marcus for sharing this!
    There are 3 loves in my life: my wife, my English mastiffs, and my weightlifting....Man, my wife gets really pissed when I get the 3 confused...
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    Latent oblique firing


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    Awsome post, chris has an entire squat/bench and deadlift series that i'd recommend to anyone.

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    So this is different than a Valsalva maneuver?
    Last edited by Bonaparte; 06-28-2015 at 09:24 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonaparte View Post
    So this is different than a Valsalva maneuver?
    Yes you can breath while bracing as described above
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    Diaphragm function & core stability

    DNS testing and assessment


    By Hans Lindgren DC, 10 Aug 2011

    Proper diaphragm function is fundamental for proper core stabilization. As previously described in “Core Stability from the Inside Out” proper core stabilization is achieved by the simultaneous activity of the diaphragm’s two functions of respiration and stabilization.

    Postural assessment can be very indicative of the quality of the core stabilization. As described in “Diaphragm function for core stabilization” the position of the chest and pelvis affect the synchronized activity of the diaphragm and pelvic floor. An elevated chest position reduces the zone of apposition between the diaphragm and the lower ribcage, and impairs the contraction of the costal part of the diaphragm.

    The combination of an elevated chest and an anteriorly tilted pelvis is a common posture that severely compromises the ability to achieve proper stabilization. Ideally the diaphragm and pelvic floor should be parallel to each other for maximal effect to occur.






    The DNS program contains a series of tests to properly evaluate the function of the diaphragm and the individual’s ability to create proper core-stabilization.


    1- Diaphragm function test sitting– Subject sits with a straight spine. Examiner places fingers along the lower ribs and in the intercostal spaces, feeling for a lateral expansion of the ribcage and widening of the intercostal spaces during inspiration. An upward movement of the ribcage is a sign of dysfunctional breathing. There should also be activity of the muscles of the postero-lateral abdominal wall (eccentric contraction) and there should be no thoracic spine flexion. Instruct the individual to widen the thorax laterally when breathing in.
    2- Diaphragm function supine - Ask the individual to breathe normally and observe the movements of the ribcage. Cranial movement of the ribcage and an inward movement of the abdomen during inspiration are dysfunctional as there should be an expansion of the lower ribcage and abdominal wall in all directions. Place the hands on the lower lateral ribcage and feel for lateral expansion of the ribcage and activation of the muscles of the posterior-lateral abdominal wall. When only the anterior part of the abdomen is expanding during inspiration, the breathing stereotype is dysfunctional. Additionally, activation of the pectoralis and neck muscles when breathing is another dysfunctional breathing pattern.
    3- Diaphragmatic function supine - once the diaphragm is properly activated the next step is to force the increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by the diaphragmatic contraction all the way down into the lower abdominal cavity. Place the hand on the lower abdomen centrally and laterally (just above groins) and feel for a pressure increase during inspiration.
    stabilization. Kolar et al showed that the diaphragm has both a postural function, and is under voluntary control. As previously mentioned, the diaphragm can perform its two functions simultaneously, and that is what we will test for next.

    4- Intra-abdominal pressure test supine - Place the person in a supine position with flexion of knees and hips, and the lower legs supported. The hips should be slightly outwardly rotated and in a slight abduction, which corresponds to the width of the shoulders. Bring the individual’s chest in to a caudal position, and remove support from the legs. The individual is asked to actively hold the position while the examiner assesses both the activity of the abdominal wall and the movement of the chest. Signs of good intra-abdominal pressure are if the chest is maintained in caudal position and the lower chest widens during inspiration. There should be a proportional activation of all parts of the abdominal wall. The lower abdomen should have a full rounded appearance, and not a central ridge with concavities at the lower lateral part of the abdomen, which indicates a Rectus Abdominis dominant activation with insufficient intra-abdominal pressure. Rectus dominant activation can also be detected by observing the movement of the umbilicus, as upwards movement indicates an over-activity of the upper rectus abdominis muscle. Other signs of poor activation of intra-abdominal pressure are if the chest lifts to a high position, and if there is little or no activation of the latero-dorsal aspect of abdominal wall. Anterior tilt of the pelvis, and hyperextension of L/S and T/L junctions due to hyper-activity of the paravertebral muscles indicates instability due to insufficient intra-abdominal pressure
    5- Intra-abdominal pressure test sitting - Individual sits with a straight spine. Place thumbs on the lower lateral abdomen (the concavity prone area) and ask the individual to push against the fingers. This gives an opportunity to assess the individual’s ability to create an increased intra-abdominal pressure in the lower part abdominal cavity by voluntarily contracting and pushing the diaphragm downwards. The chest should be kept in a caudal position and there should be no compensatory spinal movements during the activation. Watch for activity of the abdominal muscles. The pressure should come from the inside out and not through activity of the abdominal wall. Inwards movement of the abdomen or an umbilical movement in a cranial direction are signs of dysfunctional activation. There should just be an even expansion of the lower abdomen with the appearance of the area above the groins filling out. This test can also be performed with the individual lying on their back. The individual can push against their own fingers for a great self-monitored exercise when proper activation has been achieved.
    The next step is to combine the two functions.


    6- Intra-abdominal pressure while performing normal respiration - once the individual can use the diaphragm properly both to “breathe” into the lower abdomen and to push the diaphragm down to increase the intra-abdominal pressure, the two functions should be combined and tested. Ask the individual to breathe in and to push against the examiners fingers placed at the lower lateral abdomen, and to maintain that pressure while going through normal respiratory cycles. During this activity the diaphragm is performing its respiratory task at a lower position whilst simultaneously maintaining an increased intra-abdominal pressure. This test can and should be tested when sitting, standing and lying on the back.

    This combined activity is the key to proper core-stabilization.

    Once the simultaneous activity of the diaphragm’s dual functions has been properly established we perform tests when moving the neck, arms and legs while assessing the ability to stabilize the core.

    7- Trunk and neck flexion test supine -The individual is lying on the back and performs a slow neck and then trunk flexion. The activity of the abdominal muscles is assessed and there should be a balanced activity of all the sections of the abdominal wall with no concavities at the lower lateral abdomen. The chest should be kept in a lowered position and there should be no excessive bulging of the lateral abdominal wall or flaring of the lower ribs. The Thoraco-lumbar and Lumbo-sacral junctions should be stable. This test also gives an opportunity to assess the deep neck flexors, since their weakness will produce a forward poking of the chin when lifting the head.
    8- Arm lifting test in supine - Test for the individual’s ability to maintain the position of the chest with a proper breathing pattern and an increased intra-abdominal pressure, while lifting the arms up above the head and down again. Repeat the movement slowly several times and look for proper activation. There should be no cranial movement of the chest and the entire abdominal wall should be evenly activated. There should be no over-activity of the rectus abdominis with an upwards movement of the umbilicus and concavities at the lower lateral abdomen. The lower ribs should expand slightly during inspiration. Pay close attention to the postero-lateral abdominal wall and make sure there are no ante-version of the pelvis and hyper-extension of the Lumbo-sacral and Thoraco-lumbar junctions. This test can also be performed with the individual standing up.
    9- Leg lifting supine - Hips and knees in 90 degrees flexion. Initially the individual’s legs are supported while the proper activation of the increased intra-abdominal pressure is established. The individual then supports the weight of the legs and moves them down to touch the floor alternately, whilst maintaining the core stabilization pattern during normal breathing. Watch for chest movement and activation of the entire abdominal wall. Concavities in the lower lateral abdomen are indicative of poor stabilization and so is hyper-extension of T/L and L/S junctions.

    10- Sitting hip flexion test - Individual is sitting with a straight spine with the legs slightly apart and hanging freely. The examiner sits behind placing the fingers on the spine at the T/L junction and on the lateral abdominal wall. The individual is instructed to lift one knee. Assessment is made of the stability of the T/L junction and the activation of the abdominal wall. There should be no side shift of the Thoraco-lumbar junction and no spinal movement in flexion or extension. There should be an activation of the abdominal wall. Hyper-activity of the paravertebral muscles at the T/L junction and side movement of the trunk are common signs of dysfunctional stabilization.

    11- Sitting hip flexion test -Another method of testing the stability during hip flexion in sitting involves the examiner being in front of the individual and placing the thumbs at the lower lateral abdominal wall. Ask the individual to push against the fingers while lifting one knee by flexing the hip. Watch for the activation of the abdominal wall. There should be an even expansion of the entire abdomen with no excessive contraction of the Rectus abdominis, which is apparent by the upward movement of the umbilicus and concavities appearing in the lower lateral abdomen. Lifting of the chest and an inward movement of the abdomen are other common signs of poor stabilization. Proper activation of the core from the inside is felt as a constant pressure against the thumbs and should allow for hip movement to occur with a stable pelvis and spine. Flexion, extension, rotation and lateral movement of the spine are all signs of poor stabilization. In this test a slight resistance can be added to the lifted knee to further assess the quality of stabilization.

    12- Core stabilization during movements of arms and legs simultaneously - should also be assessed. The individual must be able to maintain intra-abdominal pressure and proper breathing throughout the movement of the limbs. In supine this is the basics for all different versions of “dead-bug” exercises
    Each of the tests will give us valuable information regarding the individual’s ability to develop and maintain a proper IAP and keep the spine and supporting joints stabilized and centred. The result of these tests will greatly affect the selection of exercises and determine level of loading able to be used. Each of the tests can also be used as an entry level to stabilization exercises. Once the person can activate the proper pattern they can be used as home-exercises.

    These tests should be performed prior to assessments of other movement and stabilization patterns, since the inability to activate the core from the inside out will affect all other stabilization patterns in the body.


    Summary:

    Signs of improper activation of core-stabilization during movements are:

    Elevation of the chest - brings the diaphragm away from ideal position for maximal activation

    Breath holding when performing tasks

    The inability to maintain the intra-abdominal pressure during the normal respiratory cycle

    Imbalanced abdominal activity with excessive contraction of the rectus abdominis, and lack of activity of the lateral and posterior parts of the abdominal wall

    Belly breathing pattern where only the front of the abdomen expands

    Concavities at the lower lateral abdomen


    Hyper-activity of the Thoraco-lumbar paravertebral muscles

    Excessive movement in Thoraco-lumbar and lumbo-sacral junctions

    Once the core has been properly activated, the controlled increased intra-abdominal pressure during normal breathing should be incorporated in all exercises and they all become core exercises!

    If you are performing core exercises with the chest lifted and there are concavities at the lower lateral part of abdomen, you are probably wasting your time!


    http://hanslindgren.com/articles/dia...ore-stability/
    Last edited by marcus300; 06-29-2015 at 06:33 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khazima View Post
    Awsome post, chris has an entire squat/bench and deadlift series that i'd recommend to anyone.
    Chris is a beast of a man and I watch him all the time. Ive slowly gone back to my old bracing and breath technique over the last 3 months like Chris describes and its started to produce more growth which is very hard at my level. My lifts have gone through the roof and I'm starting to add more thickness. I incorporate it into most of my bodybuilding training and not just the power movements.
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    “one set to failure is all that is required to stimulate an increase in strength and size – with no number of lesser sets having the same effect” – Mike Mentzer

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    Marcus this is the best explanation of what we call in PL staying tight and more specifically belly breathing. I know it's been hard at times for me to explain to someone these concepts but if people only knew how important this is they would take the time to learn more about it. I'm going to borrow parts of your explanation to help get this point across. Thanks man. Great post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 600@50 View Post
    Marcus this is the best explanation of what we call in PL staying tight and more specifically belly breathing. I know it's been hard at times for me to explain to someone these concepts but if people only knew how important this is they would take the time to learn more about it. I'm going to borrow parts of your explanation to help get this point across. Thanks man. Great post.
    Thanks

    I was taught this bracing and breathing in my early power lifting days and it really was ingrained into me but over time going into bodybuilding I slowly lost bit of it and just went back to locking in and using my sheer power to lift. Ive now gone back to this and over the last 3 months incorporated it into my bodybuilding lifts and its been amazing. My power is going through the roof, my thickness is going wild and ive started to grow again and believe me at my size and age its hard without going down the dangerous route again

    Please watch Chris's videos you'll really enjoy them
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    I think most people take bracing and breathing for granted, doing it the proper way is so much more effective and safer, thanks for the awesome read man!

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    Bump
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    bump
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    Bump for you know who
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcus300
    Bump for you know who
    no, who?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuscleScience View Post
    no, who?
    You don't know him. You been away to long
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcus300
    You don't know him. You been away to long
    So now I'm old news?!?
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    Great post bro I will apply this into my workout todau

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    Increase your squat and stability
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    on my readlist

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    MuscleScience is offline AR-Hall of Famer
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    Great read for everyone, vets included!

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    Increase your squat like the pros
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    Did a good productive leg session this morning, still getting back into training due to various health concerns but did squats this morning and started to dial in my breathing and bracing. Went well but didn't go that heavy just training my muscles and trying to get some mobility back and get my B & B back in line.

    Held up well except for my lunges which got gassed out but core was tight, lats and diaphragm fully engaged which made easy work of the lifts.

    Looking forward to progressing again and getting the weight up in a controlled safe fashion
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    How do you know if you're doing it right?

    Is it easier/better to practice it with or without a belt?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kronik420 View Post
    How do you know if you're doing it right?

    Is it easier/better to practice it with or without a belt?
    If you watch the first 3-4 videos of this thread and Chris will talk you through them. I was a big power lifter in my younger day and it was second nature to brace which I followed through into my bodybuilding years. Recently after having sometime off heavy lifting due to health issues I've started back and it feels great to be able to brace and breath again, doesn't take long once you have the key points under control. Chris is the best at describing it and also you'll be able to watch it in process so pls check out the videos in this thread
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    “Carrying a set to a point where you are forced to utilize 100 percent of your momentary ability is the single most important factor in increasing size and strength"--- Mike Mentzer

    “one set to failure is all that is required to stimulate an increase in strength and size – with no number of lesser sets having the same effect” – Mike Mentzer

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    ok after watching them for a second time i think i get it now, watched for the first time late last night soo..

    i did try and use this today while i was doing my shoulder presses, and i got to complete my 10x10, which was 7 more reps than last time i was doing them with the same weight, and last set felt like i could have done a couple more reps too.. but hard to narrow it down to why that was, could have been the pre-workout that i took for the first time today, or maybe just getting stronger, or this breathing/bracing thing... probably a combination of all the above.. will try this again on Friday's workout, chest/back, i think the hard part is to continue to breath into your stomach and not into your chest as you get into the set..

    thank you Marcus for sharing this. i appreciate everything that you do for me

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    Quote Originally Posted by kronik420 View Post
    ok after watching them for a second time i think i get it now, watched for the first time late last night soo..

    i did try and use this today while i was doing my shoulder presses, and i got to complete my 10x10, which was 7 more reps than last time i was doing them with the same weight, and last set felt like i could have done a couple more reps too.. but hard to narrow it down to why that was, could have been the pre-workout that i took for the first time today, or maybe just getting stronger, or this breathing/bracing thing... probably a combination of all the above.. will try this again on Friday's workout, chest/back, i think the hard part is to continue to breath into your stomach and not into your chest as you get into the set..

    thank you Marcus for sharing this. i appreciate everything that you do for me
    Hey glad to hear you had success with it because it can add lbs to your lifts if applied correctly and also prevent injury. Its a powerlifting technique which can be incorporated into many bodybuilding lifts especially overhead lifts of any kind or were your back is going to be vulnerable. I am without doubt you got further reps out because your bracing, the breathing can be difficult to master but with practise it does become easy. You breath into your stomach while pushing down your diaphragm with your internal muscles, this will generate a strong pressurised column so your back especially the lower back is protected. When doing squats you will also add to this by engaging the lats which will in turn brace the upper back also, put this together and you have a very strong technique which will help you get better stronger lifts without injury.
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    “Carrying a set to a point where you are forced to utilize 100 percent of your momentary ability is the single most important factor in increasing size and strength"--- Mike Mentzer

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    found this in my YouTube feed.

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    Watch Chris's channel its got loads of excellent information
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    “Carrying a set to a point where you are forced to utilize 100 percent of your momentary ability is the single most important factor in increasing size and strength"--- Mike Mentzer

    “one set to failure is all that is required to stimulate an increase in strength and size – with no number of lesser sets having the same effect” – Mike Mentzer

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    Had a great squatting session and got some mobility back with decent power. I was asked regarding a certain stretch I do to help when your in the hole of the squat so I thought I would post it here awell.

    Its ankle mobility and releasing the tension so you create good flexion in the ankle so when in the hole of the squat you feel and have more power. Creating more mobility in this area also creates more flexibility in the tight fascia of the calves. Go into a lunge and stretch the knee forward if your tight in this area your ankle will come up once your knee goes over your toes, the idea is to slowly stretch it out so your ankle stays on the floor, you can add your body weight to further the stretch or just put a plate on your knee and breath the stretch out, its remarkable because once the mobility starts to come through when your in the hole of the squat its feels so much better and all your power can be transferred to your perfect squat. I normally do it facing a wall so my foot is around 6" away and I stretch my knee to the wall slowly while breathing the stretch and after a few mins your knee will touch the wall while your ankle is still on the floor. Here are some pics I've found which will show you better than I am probably explaining



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    “Carrying a set to a point where you are forced to utilize 100 percent of your momentary ability is the single most important factor in increasing size and strength"--- Mike Mentzer

    “one set to failure is all that is required to stimulate an increase in strength and size – with no number of lesser sets having the same effect” – Mike Mentzer

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    Great info on this thread. I really recommend Becoming a supple leopard[/I][/I] by Kelly starret. This changed my form, bracing, rehap and preventative maintenance drastically

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    Dont leave home without it
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    “Carrying a set to a point where you are forced to utilize 100 percent of your momentary ability is the single most important factor in increasing size and strength"--- Mike Mentzer

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