T Nation

Ab Work Questions


Got some questions for you guys about ab work. Whenever you squat or deadlift, I always hear the advice brace your abs by "making yourself as fat as possible." I already do this on squats and deads, but my question is do you guys do this on ab work as well? My other question is what kind of ab work are you guys doing? I'm currently doing ab wheel rollouts, hanging leg raises, and weighted planks. I feel like I never got much out of standing ab pulldowns.

Thanks in advance for any answers.


Bracing your abs isn't " making yourself as fat as possible " It's simply tightening up kind of like a flex. But if you're squatting or dead lifting goin full go, then you're body will naturally tense up for the intensity required to move sub-maximal/maximal weight. Lock you're low back , chest out shoulders cocked back and drive you're hips in. So I think maybe, if you're pushing you're stomach out to squat and dead lift you're not really doing it right and It's probably taking away from the lift. When doing ab work just keep ur stomach tight, suckin it in somewhat. don't freakin push you're stomach out.

A lot of stronger athlete's and lifters are doing weighted core work.

Standing Cable Crunches
Full Contact Twist
Shovel Lifts
Bent Presses
Turkish Get Up
Decline Sit Up
Sledge Hammer Swings
med. ball press catch and slam
super man's
plank variations ect.

Hope this helps.


Chase may disagree, but I (and many many strong guys, of which i am not) squat and deadlift (and bench and OHP) by pushing out against the belt...this puts your back in a more advantageous position to not round during squat/dl, and keeps you tight for all the other exercsies...

as for doing it while doing abwork, who cares? its assistance work...do it however you feel comfortable


i try to push out abs all the time, i think it's a great way to get the back and trunk area to remain tight and arched.

@rav, i dont get much from standing abs either. i try to push out my abs when doing hanging leg raise, but i dont really do any other ab excercises much. i like that prowler plank pull defranco had in his article, i didnt try it but it looks like it works lol. I find that 1 arm db bench is one of the best ab exercises and it's a two-for-one in terms of "economizing" gym time imo.


Agreed. Im pretty certain this is what coaches and lifters like Tate and Wendler teach. And if you think about it, it makes sense.


Now, I'm not the strongest guy out there (~370 lbs squat, ~420 lbs deadlift) but i agree with VTBalla - Chase i dunno what you are talking about. "Pushing your belly out" and "making yourself fat" have always been perfect cues for me how to keep my core tight, protet lower back from rounding and remaining TIGHT throughout the whole movement.

I still remember Tate's great explanation about this fact - The Pyramids are built with a WIDE BASE and have withstood many, many years! You don't see any buildings with the bottom base smallwer than the top do you? Because the engineers know that the wider the base, the stronger the support. Thats why you breathe with your belly and push out, NOT take breath through your mouth and enlarge your chest (and in effect, narrowing your waist and base!)


Ab work is whatever it is.

Squats and deads push your belly out against your belt. Fill it with air. Make it fat.

What mlekava000 said.

Chase has a good list of ab stuff. I tend to get bored with it. Mostly I do:

hanging leg raises
bar roll outs
v sit ups with a plate behind my head
dragon flags are fun too


Bracing abs is what you do right before someone punches you in the stomach, tight, but you can still breathe.


What's your point?

Personally I don't "brace" my abs when I squat or DL....


In your picture you have a belt on... that would be why, you have a belt do it for you...


Even if squatting or dl'ing completely raw, i still "push out" and not brace....the belt just gives me something to push out against


What a stupid statement. He already said he pushes his abs out against his belt, that's exactly what you're supposed to do. The belt doesn't "do it for you."


Pushing your stomach out on a squat has merit if you have a big belly and your squatting. However if you have a smaller belly pushing out wont really do much. If you have a belt you push into, it creates tightness around your midsection, much like "bracing" your abdominal muscles would, thus creating tightness, in absence of your muscles doing it, so in a way it IS doing it for you.


Nope. I have a 'small belly' and push out like I'm trying to make myself look pregnant regardless of whether I'm wearing a belt or not. It has the effect of both tightening the mid-section and creating as large a base as possible.

I seriously hope you're not starting the 'belt/no belt' crap. It gets old pretty fast and has been done to death.


The technique in the squat and deadlift with regards to lumbar stabilization is as follows:

Deep inspiration: using the diaphragm to push the abdominal viscera downwards and thereby expanding the abdomen outwards.

Abdominal contraction: voluntarily contracting the abdominal musculature against the expanded abdomen. This braces your spine and makes it so the lumbar spine is a rigid body.

With that being said, exercises that help can range from direct abdominal work to physical therapy type 'core exercises'.


What Chase44 is talking about sounds a lot like the concept of 'drawing-in' that Mike Boyle likes to recommend for all of his ab-intensive exercises. Is it good from an athletic standpoint? Sure. Is it best from a powerlifting standpoint? I don't think so. You're given the opportunity to help brace your core by pushing your belly out against a belt. Why negate this advantage?


Thanks for all the responses guys. Always nice to hear other peoples thoughts.