What is Intra-Abdominal Pressure?
Intra-Abdominal pressure (IAP) refers to the pressure within the abdominal cavity. Maintaining sufficient abdominal pressure, whilst breathing at the same time, is important for achieving good stabilisation of the core. At LiftOff, you’ll often hear the coaches using phrases such as “brace your core” and “create tension in your midline”. We use our core to stabilise our trunk during movements so we don’t over work the muscles in our lower back. Over working these muscles could lead to issues with our posture and potential injuries.
Creating tension in our core helps us improve and perform conventional lifts such as squatting, deadlifting, push ups, as well as many other exercises. This effect can be created by tensing the abdominal muscles as if you’re about to be punched in the stomach. You may see lifters using belts to create the same effect but this can often just plaster over a weakness that they should be strengthening in their training. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.
You can practice creating tension by using core exercises such as dead bugs, hollow body holds or a front leaning rest and, most importantly, remembering to breath whilst holding that braced position. Practising and performing these types of exercises will, in time, improve your ability to create tension in the core. How much time will depend on how quickly you can adapt your movements and your awareness of how your core is being used during each exercise. Some people find it quite instinctive whilst others might struggle to make that connection.
If you’re lifting well and injury free, why change? The most important factor is building awareness of how we are moving and what small changes we can make to improve. Better core engagement could make all the difference.
If you struggle to engage your core or would like to discuss how to improve connectivity with your midline, don’t hesitate to speak to any member of the LiftOff Team.
Coach Sam Saunders