Engaging Your Core

Engagement Vs Bracing

Recently, I have been talking clients through the difference between engaging your core and bracing your abs.

Our “core" is made up of your pelvic floor, diaphragm, transverse abdominals, obliques and rectus abdominals.

When we do core work we want to think about engaging our core at about a 30% effort. Your core should be engaged all the time, think posture, sitting up straight and generally moving around. 
The problem is when people are doing “core” work they actually end up bracing which means that the bigger stronger muscles take over such as your rectus abdominals. This can happen due to our transverse abdominis not engaging properly - they don’t engage at all or may have poor movement pattern/awareness. This can then lead to pressure on the lower back and other muscles taking over to do the job of the core.

When you lift something heavy that is when you want to be bracing. Think heavy squats, heavy deadlift or if you are trying to produce a lot of power. This is when we want the whole body working together to support the spine hips and shoulders and generate as much force as possible.

The next time you are working on your core, think about engaging it at about a 30% effort and the next time you are doing a heavy back squat then brace everything and lift!