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Old 07-06-2009, 10:04 AM   #1
Max Rosenthal
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Maintaining core tightness for squats

I am really having a hell of time doing it. Part of it may be squat depth, which I'm working on (tend to go lower than needed). Does anyone out there have any decent coaching cues that might help this?
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Old 07-06-2009, 10:56 AM   #2
Jason Peacock
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

I didn't know that it was possible to "go lower than needed" in a squat

Squatting to parallel is the minimum, if you can go deeper than that's good. In fact, stopping short of your full range of motion kills the advantageous bounce you get at the bottom of the squat (and for me stopping early is harder work too).

Are you rounding your back at the bottom? Or have butt wink? That's a different problem - you need to focus on keeping a neutral spine - chest up, look forward. Then your squat will limit itself at the correct depth according to your hamstring flexibility.

For back squats/front squats/etc if you're not able to maintain core tightness then keep to a lower weight until you can - forcing yourself heavier will hurt you. Take a deep breath at the top, make sure it's going into your diaphragm and not your chest (your belly should expand), then flex/tighten your bell against that air as you squat down & up. At the top let the breath out and repeat.
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:58 PM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

valsalva...
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:04 PM   #4
Robert Callahan
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

Big breath, then hold it and squeeze your stomach.

You could also get a lifting belt... but it is good to learn how to tighten your core without one.
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Old 07-06-2009, 07:14 PM   #5
Max Rosenthal
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Peacock View Post
I didn't know that it was possible to "go lower than needed" in a squat

Squatting to parallel is the minimum, if you can go deeper than that's good. In fact, stopping short of your full range of motion kills the advantageous bounce you get at the bottom of the squat (and for me stopping early is harder work too).

Are you rounding your back at the bottom? Or have butt wink? That's a different problem - you need to focus on keeping a neutral spine - chest up, look forward. Then your squat will limit itself at the correct depth according to your hamstring flexibility.

For back squats/front squats/etc if you're not able to maintain core tightness then keep to a lower weight until you can - forcing yourself heavier will hurt you. Take a deep breath at the top, make sure it's going into your diaphragm and not your chest (your belly should expand), then flex/tighten your bell against that air as you squat down & up. At the top let the breath out and repeat.
Ha yeah... I had been doing full ROM squats, but it was suggested to me by a friend and some on this board that doing so was possibly affecting my form. It's difficult work for me as well to try and stop at parallel. Thanks for the reply, good stuff and I appreciate it.

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
valsalva...
...is what I've been doing, to seemingly little effect. If you want phrase my question as "How can I get to be more effective at valsalva?," go ahead, that's basically what I'm asking.
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Old 07-06-2009, 07:21 PM   #6
Dave Winchester
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

A belt would help, even if you were it loose so that it is just touching the skin the tactile feedback may "remind" your brain to stay tight.
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Old 07-06-2009, 07:29 PM   #7
Tom Seryak
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

"swallow" air and fill up your stomach as if it were a balloon. also, hold your breathe until you get back to the top of the squat. I am sure there are some that may debate this but it is the only way to keep good pressure throughout the lift...
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Old 07-06-2009, 08:05 PM   #8
Brian Degenaro
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

The easiest way to think of it is to inhale using your diaphragm and push your stomach as far out as possible while squatting. Dan John calls it the "Buddha belly".
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Old 07-08-2009, 06:41 AM   #9
Bill Middleton
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

There is a whole midline stabilization series of videos in the crossfit journal. From December 2008 - March 2009. Kelly Starrett of Crossfit SF goes through an excellent checklist.

The cue he uses for his athletes is take a big breath then contract your belly button into your spine. If you don't have a Journal subscription I highly recommend it as the videos explain it far better than any words.
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Old 07-12-2009, 04:22 PM   #10
Veronica Carpenter
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Re: Maintaining core tightness for squats

Without a video it's hard to tell where your problem with form stems from. You do need to "bear down" like everyone is saying, but no one has yet mentioned control. I don't like stopping any where less that rock bottom, especially with a load i feel the stress in my knees, BUT, you have to control your descent.
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