Sunday 9.05.10

This is a picture of Christian Thibaudeau, former competitive Olympic lifter and current writer at Here he is front squatting 405 lbs. The ability to stabilize your core is the difference between standing up with this weight, or crumbling over into an injured heap.

Mid-line stabilization is defined as the ability to maintain core rigidity while engaged in functional movement. The ability to maintain mid-line stabilization has to do with having a strong "core", which is everything from your chest through your hips on the front, back, and sides of your body. We are often asked why we don't "do abs" in CrossFit. We do train our abdominal muscles, but only in their capacity to maintain a stable mid-line.

Mid-line stabilization will not only help us lift more and perform better, but it will allow us to do those things at a markedly reduced potential for injury. Back injuries are very common, in weight training and are almost always preventable. A strong, stable core is half that battle. The movements we train at The Compound are designed to challenge your entire core in dynamic ways that force you to stabilize your mid-line from a variety of positions. Developing that musculature is the first step to preventing injury while training.

Now that you have the ability to tighten your core, the second step is applying that strength through proper breathing techniques while lifting.

Let's take the jerk for example. If I want to go for maximum weight overhead, I need to transfer power from the floor, through my body, and into the bar. A tight core means I don't lose that power coming up from the ground. The following are the breathing steps I should take on every rep of the jerk:
  • I take the bar off the rack, and set up my feet, hands, elbows, and posture.
  • I take a deep breathe and hold it.
  • I dip and drive quickly so as not to get light headed from holding my breath.
  • I dip again and receive the bar overhead with active shoulders.
  • Now I exhale, but I'm still careful to keep a tight core because the weight is still over head.
Breathing in this manner, not only for the jerk but for all lifts, will give you a tight core, good power transfer, and greater force production with minimal exposure to injury.

And since we are on the topic of mid-line stabilization, remember that lifting the weight up is only half of the job when it comes to trying not to injure yourself: you have to lower it as well. Too often we see people lift with perfect form, only to slump over and lose their tight core as they ride the barbell back to the ground in exhaustion. That old statistic that you are most likely to get into a car accident within a mile from your home applies here too. We get complacent once the hard work is over.

Until the barbell, kettle bell, medicine ball, etc. has hit the ground, you are not out of the woods! Keep your mid-line tight and the barbell close to your body while lowering it under control. I tell people to lower the weight to your shoulders, then your hips, then the floor to avoid losing your good posture on the way down. The other option is to completely drop it from overhead, but if you do so don't try to control it down. Just let it go!

You work too hard day in and day out at The Compound to be sidelined by a preventable injury. Keep your mid-line tight and stable at all times, utilize proper breathing, and set those PR's injury free! bc


  1. I like the step by step examples, good info!

  2. for the ladies out there..when working on midline stability, think of this as your perfect opportunity to let it out!! we are constently "sucking in" our abs or bearing down when we need to be getting in as much air as possible before a lift and that requires a "big belly" aka an extended tummy. Enjoy this time and start pushing those bellies out with pride before you deadlift more than the guy next to you=)