Standing On Cans

Can you stand on a can? Probably.

You do not have to try, but here’s some food for thought that may help you lift more weight.

If I were to take an upright, full can of soda and ask you to stand on it, you probably could – assuming you have necessary balance. The can will hold its shape and support you. If, however, I were to open that can and empty the contents, your balancing act might not go so well. When the can is empty, it will crumble under you as soon as you put weight on it.

But who cares about cans…

Your body is similar to a can. It will crumble when conditions allow. The goal is to make you more like a full, unopened can that can hold shape under heavy weight and less like an opened, empty can that will crumble.

The same thing that allows the can to keep its strength and shape will allow you to keep yours under a heavy load – we’re talking about internal pressure. When you prepare to lift a heavy weight from the ground, the rack, or to overhead, you need to know how to control your internal pressure.

To create the pressure inside of your torso that we see in an unopened soda can, start by taking a deep breath in through your nose. Breath in and fill up your belly with air. When done correctly your torso will expand and become bigger. Hold this air in and perform your lift. Holding the pressure in will provide the same rigidity to your torso that we see in the unopened can. Take a big breath in at the end of each rep to reestablish pressure before going into the next rep.

Sounds easy, right?

Unfortunately, even breathing takes practice.

Try this:

  1. Start by lying on your back, flat on the floor.
  2. Expel all of the air out of your body. When you feel like you can not get any more air out of your body, keep expelling air.
  3. When you have removed all of the air from inside you, begin to breathe back in slowly through your nose. You should feel the air start to fill up in your belly first. As you continue to inhale in you will then start to feel the pressure build in your chest. As all of this pressure is being forced into your body you will notice your body begin to expand. Your torso will move out and become broader.
  4. When you can not inhale any more air, try one last deep breath in through your nose and hold it. You may feel like you are about to pop.  What you are really experiencing, though, is the internal pressurization that you should feel before performing any load-bearing exercise. Aim to feel this at the top of every squat, bottom of every deadlift or press, and every time you are about to begin a snatch or clean and jerk.

Consciously set your internal pressure until it becomes second nature during every rep, and you will protect your body from injury and begin to notice your numbers moving up.

Coach Josh Daniel, CF-L2

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