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Training Principles: Valsalva Maneuvre

The Valsalva Maneuvre

What is the Valsalva Maneuvre?

The Valsalva maneuvre is a breathing and bracing technique used in weightlifting, by storing air in the diaphragm and exhaling against a closed throat, causing intra-abdominal and intra-thoracic pressure.

Why is it performed?

The increase in pressure and tension creates a more rigid torso, this allows us to transfer force through the torso into the point of resistance without a reduction of power and it maintains spinal position during the lift, reducing the risk of back injury during heavy lifting.

How it is performed

Step 1: Take a deep breath so that the stomach expands. This should feel like you are filling the torso from the hips, upwards to the chest.
Step 2: Close the glottis in the throat so that air cannot escape, exhale against the closed throat. This will increase pressure and tension within the torso.
Step 3: Brace the muscles of the stomach, the midsection should expand outwards at the front, sides and back. Draw the ribs downward to increase the tension created, there should be 360 degrees of tension through the midsection.

What can it be used for?

The best movements to use the Valsalva maneuvre on are:
 – Heavy lifts.
 – Compound movements.
 – Squat and hinge lower body movements.
 – Upper body movements involving spinal compression and shear.

Examples of exercises:
 – Squatting: Back squat, front squat, goblet squat.
 – Hinging: Conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift, stiff leg deadlift, hip thrust.
 – Pressing: Bench press, standing shoulder press.
 – Pulling: Bent over row, pendlay row.

Technique Cuing

Step 1: Lay on the floor with a band across the lower back.
Step 2: Push the lower back into the band, creating tension in the stomach.
Step 3: Inhale into the diaphragm, exhale against a closed throat.
Step 4: Brace the stomach, pull the ribs down, creating 360 degrees of tension.

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