In the first article I covered why you need to set up right so that you don’t chase the brace in the Squat.

And I said, I would cover the Bench and Deadlift and Press (Overhead) in later posts.
That time is now.

If you’re not sure how to brace or why it’s important, read these:
Big Air Part 1
Big Air Part 2








As a reminder, if you try and brace your body after you un-rack the weight, you’ll never be able to get as tight as possible.
You will be chasing tension. Don’t chase it, create it.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the Bench Press and how to brace for it.

The Bench Press is the easiest one to brace for.

TPS Don’t Chase the Brace: Bench Press

Once you get into your starting position:

  • Feet planted
    Glutes flexed
    Back arched
    Upper back arched
    Lats locked down
    Grip set
    Toes driven through the shoes and knees out
    You are ready to brace.

Not much going on here is there?

Bracing for the Bench Press is as simple as imagining that your belly is a balloon.

Squat, bracing, core,, CJ Murphy, Total Performance Sports, Powerlifting, spud inc, lifting straps, squat, bench press, deadlift , overhead press, how to, crossfit, strongman, Olympic weightlifting

Note arrow direction and my insane Photoshop skills.





Take air in through your mouth and inflate your entire midsection with it.
Then; make your midsection as big as possible by pushing your belly out as you squeeze your butt and continue driving your toes through the ends of your shoes.
Hold your breath for at least one whole rep. Don’t exhale while you are pressing and keep making the belly big!


Belly up! Much better.

Belly up!
Much better.


Holding for two or three reps is another gem that Vincent DiZenzo gave me many years ago to improve your ability to stay braced under a max weight.

Start off with getting it right for one rep, then two.
Baby steps.

TPS Don’t Chase the Brace: Overhead Press

Again, not a very tough one to do.

The Press is just a little different than the Big Three Lifts when it comes to breathing and bracing.
On the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift we try our best to bring the air low in the belly and do everything we can to keep the chest from rising as we breathe in.

On the Press we must do the opposite!

Before you un-rack the bar for the Press, go through your set up for the pick, then take a huge breath into your chest.
Get it up high before you pick the bar. We need to get as much air in the top of the lungs as we can to stabilize the Thoracic Cavity.
(NOTE: it’s the same for the Front Squat).
When we say “Chest Up!” on the press, we really mean it.


Shoulders high. Air in the chest.

Shoulders high.
Air in the chest.



Once the air is in your chest, go ahead and fill the belly too!
Un-rack and walk it out. Make sure that your t-shirt is stretched across your back-don’t pull the shoulder blades back.
Top off your air with a small puff into the chest if needed, then push your elbows up and slightly out as you drive your bottom rib down just a little.


Bad. Note arch in lower back.

Note arch in lower back.





You should immediately feel much tighter and more stable.
Tighter and more stable means more weight!

TPS Don’t Chase the Brace: Deadlift

The Deadlift may be the trickiest one to brace on.

The question comes up all the time:
Take air at the top or the bottom?

I say the top.


In my experience, most lifters can get more effectively brace when taking it in at the top because there is more to it than just breathing in!

Let’s review:

Address the bar.

I like my lifters to begin by extending their arms in front and then depressing the scapula. To do this, just drive your shoulders down as if trying to put them in your back pocket.


Don't Chase the Brace (12)

Shoulders down, abs braced.

This gets your lats set to lock in when you take the slack out of the bar.

Take your air. Put a belt on for this-it helps, and then draw the air UNDER the belt.
Force your midsection out on all sides into the belt as if you were trying to break the belt with your belly.

p2belt, Squat, bracing, core,, CJ Murphy, Total Performance Sports, Powerlifting, spud inc, lifting straps, squat, bench press, deadlift , overhead press, how to, crossfit, strongman, Olympic weightlifting
While this may be possible with a cheap made in China belt, you won’t be able to do it with a high quality EliteFTS belt.

Keep the belly pushed out and then drive the bottom rib downwards just a little.
Hold this and set your grip quickly and efficiently. The lower you go, the more you push out against the belt.


TPS Don’t Chase the Brace Part 2-Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press
Your back should be flat at the bottom, not in a hard arch.



All you need to do now is PULL.

I prefer that beginners reset this for every rep.

Sure, it makes the set harder, but it gives you more chances to practice your set up.
Perfect practice equals perfect execution.

Add this to your training during warm up sets and do it for every rep.
This will prime you to do it under a heavy load and will lead to more success.
That means bigger totals!

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Vincere vel mori