Training these three elements will almost guarantee an increase in strength/performance.
1 – Breathing
2 – Core 3 – Grip
I can’t quite remember where I heard this and there is every chance I’m getting the quote wrong:
“When you master your breath you’ve mastered your strength.” ^^ 🤔
Going to dig this out, pretty sure it was a martial arts master who said it and it was in a book on strength training I read recently, probably a Russian author I can’t spell correctly or one of Pavel’s books.
Let us now have a very simple look at why each of the three above can yield so much reward for what might in real world time be very little sacrifice.
Breath is the essence of life and it’s fair to say that if you can’t breath you’ll die.
Oxygen and all it’s miraculous dealings/conversions in the body is actually quite impressive and truly worthy of our attention.
Alas many don’t give it a second thought.
In fact the majority of people breath Apically (top of chest and moth breathing).
This leads to a slight dominance in the sympathetic nervous system, if you are to take faith in the science.
^ It’s what when we are startled we gasp for air and sprints away. Mouth breathing allows us to get in more immediate oxygen for those ‘life or death’ situations, however it’s not something we should be doing all the time.
^^ Posture being a little poor can also affect who we breath.
Along with being wired all the time you’ll also find a potentially large amount of excessive tension in your upper back, traps, neck and surrounding muscles because they bering to rise/fall to help you take deeper breathes.
Just ask someone to take a deep breath and you’ll see the chest puff up and the person maybe even go a little red as they strain to get in more, while this is common it’s not correct.
Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing, like kids do) is what we really want to be aiming for as this is our so called natural breathing pattern.
It’s also worth nothing that when you utilise this style of breathing you’ll find your core stability increases, as does your ability to brace under heavy loads.
There is an added bonus too, your hip flexors will relax as they no no longer have to provide ‘last minute stability’ because you’re breathing is shot and your core is akin to jelly, FYI.
^ Sue Falsone has some great work on this topic.
If you want to master your breath there is only one way to do it; practice.
Start off with 5min dedicated time per day (like meditation), in through the nose for a desired amount of seconds like 10 🤔, hold for some arbitrary time, perhaps 5, and then out for 10 again, you get the idea.
The focus should be on utilising your diaphragm.
If you’re really focused you can even concentrate on doing this while you’re walking, reading, sitting at your desk working (that ones hard), however you do it is up to you, just do it.
Linked with breathing more than you’d think.
A great way to start to train your core is to think in the following way: – Stimulate – Coordinate – Isolate Here is what they mean to me.
Stimulate = begin a session with some drills such as TVA bracing, deep breathing, micro tensing all so that you can get the ‘feel’ of your core doing what it should be doing.
Coordinate = pick some large compound movements such as TGU, Crawling/Climbing/Throwing/Jumping/Locomotive patterns, rotational/unilateral compound movements and of course your classic lifts (snatch, C&J, S/B/D etc)
Isolate = finish a session with some core specific movements that start off high on the neurological scale of demands and get easier (2-3 can be a good start).
^ Example: Strict Hanging Leg Raise, L-sit, Plank All in all the more movements you can have in your training that link the body together as one unit the better you’ll find your core becomes, especially when you factor in diaphragmatic breathing as well.
The last part is known as ‘Breathing Behind the Shield’.
^You should investigate this thoroughly.
Lastly we have,
Nothing is more impressive than a good strong grip that resonates in a firm handshake that your peers adore.
Having a strong grip not only allows you to lift more, it’s also a sign of your nervous systems health/fatigue levels because once your pressure drops you know it’s time for some volume/intensity dealoads.
Same goes for a day where you’re literally crushing the bar, that means load that bad boy and get some PB’s.
Another benefit of a strong grip is called Irradiation.
^ In short it means the sigher you grip something the more potential muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment you can have, look up Sherrington’s Law of Irradiation.
All in all holding things for length of time is one of the best ways to build grip strength endurance, to build grip strength you need to ‘crush’ things in your little paws.
CoC (captain of crush) grippers are excellent for this.
As is performing pulling movements with fat grips, thicker bars, towels wrapped around a bar so it compresses meaning you need to grip harder, you’ve also go the option of doing pulling movements holding the towel (look up towel pull up).
Climbing things is also great, like walls, ropes etc.
True enough you’ll find yourself humbled adding in a more difficult grip yet it will be well worth it in regards to your strength.
Oh, plate pinches and pinch grip work is also epic too.
We can’t forget heavy kettlebell single arm swings or snatches also forge a cast iron grip as well.
Taking in to account all of the above there is one ‘secret’ move that pretty much covers everything.
Heavy awkward object loaded carries.
Honestly, try carrying things for 5+ minutes at a time, you’ll find your breathing needs to be correct, your core braced tight and your grip locked like an immovable vice.
At the end of a good session of carries you’ll find everything is suitably fried.
Not just because of the effort required to pick up, carry (possibly load on to) and repeat, it’s also because of the time under tension (and overall tension too) they force you to have.
There you have it.
A lengthy ramble that could have been summed up with just one sentence –
“To get stronger train your breathing, core & grip more.”
How much training time do you decimate to the above?