“Your Biceps are Bigger Than Your Boobs”/Learning How to Breath

Alright, we’ll get to the first part of the title of this post in a bit. I promise. The video above is one of me taking a rather large amount of time to squat 160 lb for a single. There are a few things I want you to notice about this video (I perform the actual squat at around 1:05 for those of you who are impatient. Jerks.):

1/ This is the first time I’ve ever squatted without a mirror in front of me. A lot of weight lifters spend their entire lifting existence lifting while looking in a mirror. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on one’s goals, and depending on whether or not one is a powerlifter. If one IS a powerlifter, one better as hell be getting away from the mirrors when doing lifts because there are no mirrors to look into when competing at a powerlifting meet. The squat, while a rather simple movement, is highly technical, and a lot of people, including myself, really get married to the idea of being able to judge their form in a mirror while doing squat work. Making such individuals (again, me) move away from the mirror while squatting is sometimes a bit of an adjustment. I’m really pleased with how easily I shifted over to mirrorless work yesterday, but found that I sometimes squat a bit high when I don’t have my reflection in front of me to gauge my squat depth. I have to learn to feel this out, and I think I was even starting to do so yesterday. My next squat session will be nowhere near a mirror.

2/ Look at my abdomen. Look at that sucker, it’s like some sort of bellows on speed. Breathing is incredibly important when squatting. It makes the difference between effectively using your abdominal muscles during the lift and not doing so. I’m still learning how to use my breath during all of my lifts, but squatting has gotten a lot better/I’m much better at efficiently breathing for the squat movement now. Most notably, check out how I take a deep breath before beginning my descent; taking a huge breath of air and holding it through the repetition helps you to brace your abdomen and support your upper body as you complete the squatting motion. I need to take a big breath so I have enough air to hold it for that amount of time. Indeed, I end up taking a lot of deep breaths during the set-up for the lift, which you can see if you stare at my abdomen during the beginning minute of the video.

3/I don’t know what I’m doing with my head as I come out of the hole (the bottom portion of the squat, for those of you who don’t do this sort of thing regularly, hi Mom)–I don’t always do this. I think I was responding to my mental “up!” command I made on that repetition. When you’re squatting, you want to keep everything upright and tight–you want your torso to remain solid, to not collapse downward. Your gaze should NOT be towards the floor. That said, I’ve seen people look straight up at the ceiling during a squat. I’m not a fan of this and don’t advocate it. Keep your neck in a neutral position, eyes forward or up without your gaze cranking your neck back. So yeah, excuse the head bob in this video. Whatever.

4/I’m not sure if the guy at the beginning of the video is motioning towards me or not. I AM sure that some bro says “dude, are you going out tonight?” right at the completion of my lift. This is such a classic example of the bent of conversations I hear in my gym that its occurrence at this juncture in my video is nothing short of poetic. Party on bros, party on.

So last night I went out for a professor’s birthday and was told (I’m refraining from being very specific about who told me this to protect, um, identities here) with wine-lubricated enthusiasm that my biceps are bigger than my boobs. I’m not sure if this is true. It might be. My boobs aren’t big (an advantage if you’re trying to make weight for powerlifting. As an aside, I think I just lost the entire male component of my readership), and my arm muscles are proportionately fairly developed for my size. If it’s true, that’s bloody awesome. It really is hard to determine this, though, I feel like the tissue amount between the two is pretty close. Maybe. I want to KNOW.

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