Brace timing – improve your progress

This post is for the more advanced trainees and athletes who know the finer techniques with regards to breathing down and bracing properly. If you’re not sure what I mean with breathing down and bracing – shoot me a message.

Brace timing.

Brace timing differences between bench press, deadlift, squats or running is immense.

The following tips and techniques will be of a huge benefit with regards to more results faster, as well as reduced risk of injuries.

The most common breathing perspective/technique used is the breathing out at the highest power output moment, most guys will have this habit from bench pressing or doing push-ups.

That’s great when the core, as well as back-blocks (vertebrae), have a lesser amount of side-angled pressure/ gravitational forces.

But as you can see in the photo above – when the blocks are skew there’s a lot more power needed to keep the blocks in line, strong, stable and safe.

So with the deadlift or squat, it’s imperative to learn to do your breathing and bracing at the top – where there’s the least amount of gravity pulling the blocks in any or all directions.

To be more precise though, for the loaded or explosive squat this is always applicable whereas your breathing and bracing time and position for a deadlift single max effort (1+RM), or the first repetition, is quite different.

So to be clear, with multiple repetitions you want to breathe & brace at the top though with singles you may need a different approach.

In general, you want to apply the following:

Right before you start a movement, you want to exhale, take a deep breath down to your stomach with an open mouth, like a fish, and brace.

Breathing through a small mouth opening or through your nose will be a lot less effective.

So when you’re squatting you’ll do this at the top, right before you start the descent.

Bench press, when the bar is at the top and the arms are stretched, though when you push the bar up you can start exhaling halfway up, this will actually help to push the bar with more power. By blowing out you actually activate the brace a tad more, so more power, and your vertebrae are safe in this position unless you over

By blowing out you actually activate the brace a tad more, so more power, and your vertebrae are safe in this position unless you over arch, but that’s different topic.

Doing deadlifts, a bit more specificity is welcome.

If you’re a beginner to intermediate lifter you can do your exhale, inhale and brace routine whilst standing up.

So breath, brace, hips back, grab bar, activate the core and upper back to max and go. Yes there’s way more technique involved but this fits the topic.

The more advanced lifters will actually get in position with regards to hands, feet, and body.

Then they’ll lift their butt so to create space to take a huge breath and brace in that position. An advanced lifter is also able to straighten out the “back-blocks” in this position.

This happens very fast and takes years of practice to perfect. Olympic lifters also use this technique. Please have an experienced and qualified coach help you with this.

There are numerous ways we can work on this, also via video analysis.

If you’re a runner you also want to be sure you’ve got your brace timing correct although it’s a whole different ballgame in comparison to the above-mentioned strength exercises.

I’ll keep this simple. Long distance runners want to keep a light brace, continuously. Learning to breathe whilst bracing is a huge plus. Furthermore breathing in and out should be off-pace.

Off-pace breathing for runners.
So the breath in – breath out ratio should be one of the following, preferably one of the first two option seeing that exhaling longer than inhaling has more benefits than the other way around, but you want to feel what works for you:

  • two in three out
  • three in four out
  • Three in two out
  • four in three out

The reason for this timing is to reduce wear and tear on one side of the body seeing that most people will have the habit of having an empty brace on the same foot, every time. This, in turn, will increase the risk of injuries accordingly.

With this off-set breathing pattern, you’ll have reduced risk of injuries as well increased recovery.

This is way harder to get used to so expect years of practice, it’s worth it though if you’d like to run for years without injuries. To make this easy on yourself – create a little running checklist that includes your breathing. Then try to grow the

To make this easy on yourself – create a little running checklist that includes your breathing. Then try to grow the habit of going through your checklist every 2 minutes. If you hate checking your time, choose landmarks as a reminder.

This is interesting stuff.

Sprinters do the inhale the same way an advanced deadlift athlete does is i.e. hips up, big breath in and solid brace. Ready for the pistol.

Some 100meter sprinters will only take one to two breaths for their whole sprint, dude that’s hectic.
Full body explosive power output, on one breath.
Go play around with all these ideas, every day, yes even when you’re not training.