Bracing your abdominal muscles is an important technique to master while engaging in your beginners workout. What is abdominal bracing? It is a process of tensing your abs while you are doing abdominal exercises. Bracing assures that all of your abdominal muscles are benefiting from the exercise.
Let’s look at the standard plank as an example. Before you begin, simply tense your abs as if you are bracing to get punched in the stomach. Keep your abdominals braced in this fashion throughout the duration of the exercise.
Craig Ballantyne from Turbulence Training addresses bracing in his beginners ab circuit video shown in my pevious post called Beginners Workout Abdominals. This shows planks, side planks and the bird-dog. Bracing is an important technique for all of these exercises.
Here is a video from Yuri Elkaim that further accentuates the need for abdominal bracing. The exercises are similar to Craig’s, featuring the same three. Yuri does add the hip thrust into his circuit. Also, he talks in depth about bracing, emphasizing how to do it and why it is important.
A couple of things about bracing. First, it is not as easy as it looks, and bracing takes a little getting used to. The tricky part is breathing. Try taking deep breaths while your abdominal muscles are braced. Not so easy. All it takes is a little practice. You will be surprised how quickly you get used to breathing and bracing.
Also, abdominal bracing is a good habit to get into for ALL of your strength training exercises. Not just abdominals. Try bracing your abs while doing squats, lunges, bench presses, everything. Any time you are engaging your core abdominal muscles you are adding overall strength and raising your metabolism. Big plusses.
Incidentally, Yuri Elkaim has a really great fitness program for weight loss called Fitter U. You actually download your workouts onto your iPod or MP3 player, and Yuri coaches you through your headphones. Really a neat idea, and great for beginners. Here is a link if you want to check it out. Fitter U.
OK, this is a good start to help with abdominal bracing in your beginners workout. It’s a little awkward at first. Stay with it.