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What NOT to do when performing a Barbell Back Squat - PART 1

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

- Sucking the belly button in as a way of turning the core on

When we look at breathing in relation to Barbell Back Squatting its sole purpose is to stabilise the lumbar spine whilst it is being loaded by a barbell and weights.

For many years there has been a thought pattern that breathing in and drawing the belly button in towards to spine serves as a way to activate the core.

Before we speak about this, let’s look at the muscles that act as stabilisers of the lumbar spine. They include the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques. Other literature also states that the lumbar multifidus, pelvic floor muscles and diaphragm play roles of stabilising the lumbar spine as well.

The objective of these muscle groups is to work in unison to ensure one thing…the lumbar spine is stabilised during all movement. But in order to ensure that these muscles do their jobs there needs to be an understanding of how to activate these muscles.

Studies have shown that the nature of the core muscles is very simple. They work from the inside out. In other words, if the deepest core muscle isn’t activated properly then the muscles external from it will not play their role as effectively.

What’s the deepest core muscle? It’s the Transverse Abdominis (TA). How do we active the TA? It’s taught by many (even me in my very early days of personal training), to draw the belly button in towards the spine as a way to activate the TA. We now know that to be incorrect. In fact, it has the opposite effect that we desire.

A great exercise that I like to use to practice keeping the muscles of the core engaged whilst moving is called a 'Deadbug'. This exercise is my go to when teaching individuals how to keep the muscles of the core engaged whilst moving. Jump onto my Instagram page, @coach_kassis to see a video demonstration of the exercise.

I hope you’ve found this post informative!

Keep a look out for Part 2 – Not Maintaining Control On The Descend Of Your Squat.

Yours in Health,

Anthony Kassis

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