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Powerlifting Valsalva

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V for Victory - The Powerlifting Valsalva Maneuver

Powerlifters have a handful of techniques to lift super heavy loads. One of these is the Valsalva technique. Take a page from their training program and use it for your own gains.

What is the Valsalva technique and why does it work so powerfully? Training author Phil Campbell explains in his book Speed: Like many techniques, this one is so powerful that it can cause harm but it also delivers championship plays. We all use the body’s natural ability of increasing strength by unconsciously performing the Valsalva maneuver.

My favorite analogy to explain this to athletes is to describe a situation where the athlete’s mother hands the athlete a jar with a tight lid. The mother needs some extra strength to open the jar so she calls on the athlete for help. On first attempt, the lid is too tight for the athlete. On second attempt, the athlete increases the intensity and pushes hard with maximal effort. If you will think about what the body does naturally in this situation, you will understand this valuable technique. The athlete tightens the abs, and holds the breath for 2-3 seconds as max effort is applied. This is the Valsalva maneuver. The body increases blood pressure by additional 100 points very quickly with this natural action.

Clearly, the Valsalva maneuver is dangerous to older adults with potential for stokes and it can be dangerous to some young athletes. But this technique will assist an athlete to open that jar, lift more weight maximally and to beat a faster athlete to the ball, goal or finish line.

An athlete cannot perform a maximum lift while inhaling. Nor can an athlete quickly accelerate with maximum force while inhaling. The body is designed for the Valsalva maneuver and needs to be trained how and when to deploy the technique.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.

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