Are you bearing down, engaging your core, or bracing?

How do you know if you’re bearing down, engaging your core, or bracing? Let’s break down the difference.

Bearing down

  • Sending all the intraabdominal pressure straight down into your pelvic floor
  • When to use – DON’T. It increases your risk of core and pelvic floor disorders (think diastasis, prolapse, and peeing your pants)

Core engagement (aka TA contraction)

  • Activating those deep core muscles
  • When to use – Great for early postpartum, pregnancy, early prolapse or diastasis diagnosis, or to help manage intraabdominal pressure when breathing alone isn’t enough.
  • Do use it during your warm up, core rehab, or when needed. Do not use it with every single movement or all daily activities.

*Note* This should be a gentle contraction. I had to over exaggerate the engagement here so you could see it.

Bracing

  • EQUAL increase in intraabdominal pressure in entire core, 360 degrees around including OUT into your abs and down into your pelvic floor.
  • When to use – When lifting something moderate-heavy (deadlifts, squats, press, boxes, a couch, etc).
  • *Note* Probably not necessary for lighter loads or lower RPE lifts as long as you’re managing pressure with breaths and not bearing down.

Still overwhelmed? Keep reading.

When my clients start FIT for Women, we don’t instantly go to bracing. We also don’t stress over core engagement.

Instead, we focus on not bearing down, managing pressure, progressively building strength and endurance, and maybe some form shifts.

Core engagement is practiced in the warmup, core specific section of FIT for Women Plus and with the main lifts only if needed. Once clients start moving up in weights we’ll talk about bracing.

Why? Because less is more. I don’t want you overwhelmed and adding to the tension and pressure that’s making you symptomatic. We want to make gains without overwhelming your abs or vag.

PSA: I’m a professional in a mid-size body. These video demonstrations will look different than your *typical* demo with a thin demonstrator. That’s ok.

If you’re ready to start lifting (and living again) without worrying about your core and pelvic floor, FIT for Women is for you. Get the mobility, core and pelvic floor progressions, and strength programming you need to help you navigate your symptoms.

If you want to take a deep dive on more core and pelvic floor topics, join my weekly Q&A email list. It may or may not also be the only place to snag a discount on programs. So run, don’t walk, to join.

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Hi friend! I'm Casey

I help people whose abs and vaginas are as cooperative as a 2-year-old at naptime return to lifting & living in a way that feels good again—and maybe even train them to behave along the way.

Core & Pelvic Floor Basics for Lifters

Everything you want to know about your vagina and a barbell. Be informed about your body and learn how to support a strong core and pelvic floor in your lifts (and your life).

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FIT For Women

Just because you have prolapse, diastasis, or pee your pants doesn’t mean you have to put away the weights. Get back to lifting without worrying about your abs or vag.