The cue, “pin your ribcage down,” is used often in the world of functional sports, weightlifting, weight lifting (yes, they’re different) and by personal trainers around the globe.
So WHAT does it mean to pin down your ribcage, WHEN do you do it? HOW do you do it and WHY should you pin down your ribcage?
That is precisely what we are diving into today. Because learning how to pin down your ribcage and understanding the importance of doing so is vital for your long term health in life and with the weights. We lift weights around these parts. And I want to make sure that if you’re in my fam, you’re not blowing a disc or lifting like an asshole. Pinning down your ribs can kill two birds with one stone.
I went DEEP on this topic in my coaching call for BBA and 1:1. But I didn’t want to leave out my inter web fam.
The coaching call covered “4 Cues and Technique Hacks for Lifting”
– foot contact with floor
– pinning the ribcage down
– lat engagement
– bar path
(from the ground up)
For this post we focus on the cue “pin down your ribcage.”
What is exactly is pinning down the ribcage. Your ribcage can open (flare) and close or deflate. Both are fine and you should be able to control both, working through this range of motion. But certain times call for certain measures.
Pinning the ribcage down is simply using the entirety of your abdominal muscles to pull the ribcage in and down (a “neutral” but braced position). It can be helpful to actually move your body in order to grasp this “pinning” effect. It is NOT sucking in. It is simply bracing and locking the ribs into position so that if you tried to arch your low back (enter lumbar spine hyper extension), your ribs would not flat [open up and out].
The whole point is to keep the ribs stacked over the hips. Like two bowls balancing on one another.
If the ribcage is “flared” (opened up and out), something’s got to give. And typically it’s the lumbar spine that takes the heat. You’ll see this in the FIRST photo of each grid below..
In order to pin the ribcage down, think of your core as a full 360 cylinder. It can help to arch and then contract. DO NOT SUCK IN. Simply contract. This may in fact even cause your stomach to protrude more. That’s okay!
In most lifts, FOR SURE in the big friends like deads, squats, bench and strict presses. But it is great and not at all harmful to just practice this new technique while sitting or standing or when you’re bored. It will challenge you and reveal weaknesses. How much can you really single arm dumbbell press when you’re not arching and twisting your spine? Eh?
Are you aware of your rib to hip interaction when lifting? Do you think about your ribs flaring or not? Have questions? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.
Oh, and if your interested in enjoying your time in the gym, getting strong + learning along the way, check out Built by Annie!
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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