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Bracing Technique: Definition, Benefits, and Uses

What is a Bracing Technique?

A bracing technique involves engaging the midsection musculature to stabilize the upper body and create a strong link between the torso and legs. Bracing promotes stability and prepares the body to handle external loads or withstand forces, leading to better balance, smoother movement execution, and lower injury risk.

What Are the Benefits of Bracing?

The most notable benefit of bracing is that it promotes whole-body stability, which is crucial for optimal athletic performance and safety.

The more stable an athlete is, the more force they can produce and the more effectively they can handle external forces and impacts, such as in team sports like basketball, football, and hockey

Bracing is also highly beneficial in a gym setting, such as for Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters, and average trainees looking to build strength and muscle. When braced correctly, trainees can maintain their balance and safely perform compound lifts with more weight. 

An example would be tensing the midsection and holding a deep breath into the belly while performing a heavy squat repetition.

Proper bracing is also at the core of calisthenics training, where whole-body stability is crucial for mastering simple and advanced movements like the L-sit and muscle-up.

How is Bracing Used in Physical Training?

Bracing is always important, including on complex movements like the clean and jerk and during simple, isolation exercises like a lateral raise.

As a coach, teaching athletes how to brace correctly will lead to more effective training, better progression, and lower injury risk.

Some ways to teach bracing include:

  • Explaining what bracing is and how it’s done
  • Demonstrating what proper bracing is during various activities (and explaining the difference between simply taking a deep breath and bracing)
  • Practicing proper bracing by first having clients breathe into the belly and then tense the midsection
  • Using an external tool, such as a weight belt, where the client must tense their midsection against the belt; this tactile feedback can help reinforce the skill
  • Using the “Imagine you’re about to get punched in the stomach” cue to help clients better understand what proper bracing aims to achieve


1. How do you properly brace?

Proper bracing involves taking a deep belly breath and tensing the midsection muscles. A helpful cue would be to imagine you’re about to get punched in the stomach.

2. What makes bracing effective?

Bracing stabilizes the spine and creates a strong link between the upper and lower body, leading to better stability, improved technique, and greater force output.

3. Can you breathe while bracing?

Proper bracing allows you to breathe somewhat freely. This is crucial during intense activities that last longer than five seconds––for example, doing sets of 5 on a compound lift, performing loaded carries, or doing an isometric hold, such as a plank.

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