Keeping Tension out of the Face and Neck when practicing High Tension Techniques

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Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
basically just wondering how.

on the one hand I'm getting better at HTT and am generating more tension by the day.

the downside is that I'm starting to get a lot of the tension spill over into my head, especially when clenching the fist

the vein in my head goes crazy and I feel like that much tension really isn't good for my face and neck. never get close to a tension headache, but the tension definitely leaves the face more slowly and makes me uncomfortable

Are there any ways to maintain high levels of tension in the body and low levels in the face and neck?

I'm trying to focus on relaxing the head and neck during HTT, but it's rather hard

Thank you
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Jak Nieuwenhuis
As general questions:
- Do you notice that while performing a specific move ?
- Or is it everytime you use HTT (so, for all the moves) ?

As more specific questions:
- How is you head placed during the move (for instance, when doing a pistol, do you place your head neutral / forward (like a boxer)) ?
- What about your breathing pattern (indeed, the harder is a move, the more we tend to hold our breath) ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello,

@Jak Nieuwenhuis
As general questions:
- Do you notice that while performing a specific move ?
- Or is it everytime you use HTT (so, for all the moves) ?

As more specific questions:
- How is you head placed during the move (for instance, when doing a pistol, do you place your head neutral / forward (like a boxer)) ?
- What about your breathing pattern (indeed, the harder is a move, the more we tend to hold our breath) ?

Kind regards,

Pet'

Thanks for the reply pet'

Basically every time I use the HTT, although less so for pistols than it is for pushups.

The more upper body centered the exercise, the more tension spills over into my head and neck

Head is usually pretty neutral during the pistol, just kind of attached.

I think the breathing is a big reason why it happens.. I tend to hold the breath more than exhale
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
I think it is unavoidable when you maximize the tension and the intensity. However, I haven't ever seen it as a negative thing. I can get all red with bloodshot eyes etc but it passes soon afterwards. What exactly are you worried about?
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
I think it is unavoidable when you maximize the tension and the intensity. However, I haven't ever seen it as a negative thing. I can get all red with bloodshot eyes etc but it passes soon afterwards. What exactly are you worried about?
I suppose I'm just trying to avoid it because it looks and feels so strange. Veins popping out, red in the face, etc.

The tension usually passes after about 10 seconds of rest / active rest.


Glad to hear that it hasn't been a problem for you though, I think it's mostly a breathing issue for me after all..
 

Oscar

Level 6 Valued Member
Interesting topic, I was wondering the same thing during KB presses the other day. The tension in my face didn't feel right so I tried to shift the tension to the lats, glutes, abs, quads and fists. The tension in my face was reduced by doing this (not sure if the overall tension or strength diminished as well...)

My guess is that this should be fine for heavy-heavy exercises like the powerlifts. Not so sure if it should be ok for all other strength moves?
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I use a bite guard often. I am noticeably stronger with it after experimenting with it for over a year. I am currently looking for a belt, I have never used one and I want to compete in a local novice Strongman competition.

Bracing and breathing are fundamentals everyone needs to learn from the beginning for safety. If you don't brace and breath properly under Load you will give yourself a headache, dizziness, blackout, hemorroids, hernia, or worse. It takes practice to keep the pressure out of your head.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
In normal training, keep the tension below your neck.

At a competition, all bets are off and tighten everything you can think of and then some - but save it for the meet.

-S-
 

Karen Smith

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Iron Maiden
Gentleman as stated above the tension should be from the shoulders down and the face relaxed. This is however a skill that must be practiced just as you practice your strength. At the SFB certification the students will hear me say thousands or times over the weekend to "RELAX YOUR FACE" and some of the easiest was to practice this is to SMILE, SING, or TALK while practicing your breathing behind the shield. Then it can carry over to even Higher Tension exercises.

Hope that helps.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
I try to concentrate on my breathing. The hissing (siping) of high tension breathing (behind the guard) can be visualized as the body is the balloon being tense but your breath is the letting a bit of air out of the balloon but only through the top. Yeah, odd and illogical but it seems to help.

The other concept I like is from Dan John. You should strive toward "Grace" meaning elegance in movement like effortless for almost all reps except max PR or competition attempts where maximum arousal may (or may not) be the best strategy. I have deadlift in mind here. But for almost everything else, I always find improved performance when I focus on breathing. Under discomfort this can be a dissassociation strategy as well. You may not want to emulate a ballerina but think of a martial arts master or olympic gymnast having total control and an impassive face during strenuous activity.

Another strategy would be to choose a specific point in the lift to cue yourself to relax your face. For example at the standing position of a getup or top position of the snatch pause. This can be a place to take a sip of air as well so you could you could mentally link the two behaviors so they become automatic (a scientifically validated strategy in the behavior change research). You want to try to make this behavior automatic. I have a cue to check if I am packing my left shoulder in the tall sit, which is my weakness in the getup.

Finally, bodybuilder posing! Really. Muscle control and independent contraction of muscles is a long lost art of oldtime bodybuilding and can help contraction strength.
 
Last edited:

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
Gentleman as stated above the tension should be from the shoulders down and the face relaxed. This is however a skill that must be practiced just as you practice your strength. At the SFB certification the students will hear me say thousands or times over the weekend to "RELAX YOUR FACE" and some of the easiest was to practice this is to SMILE, SING, or TALK while practicing your breathing behind the shield. Then it can carry over to even Higher Tension exercises.

Hope that helps.
I understand smiling, but I can't imagine singing or talking. What about humming?
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
Gentleman as stated above the tension should be from the shoulders down and the face relaxed. This is however a skill that must be practiced just as you practice your strength. At the SFB certification the students will hear me say thousands or times over the weekend to "RELAX YOUR FACE" and some of the easiest was to practice this is to SMILE, SING, or TALK while practicing your breathing behind the shield. Then it can carry over to even Higher Tension exercises.

Hope that helps.

Thank you Karen I will try to keep my face relaxed as possible during my training.
 

Jak Nieuwenhuis

Level 6 Valued Member
I try to concentrate on my breathing. The hissing (siping) of high tension breathing (behind the guard) can be visualized as the body is the balloon being tense but your breath is the letting a bit of air out of the balloon but only through the top. Yeah, odd and illogical but it seems to help.

The other concept I like is from Dan John. You should strive toward "Grace" meaning elegance in movement like effortless for almost all reps except max PR or competition attempts where maximum arousal may (or may not) be the best strategy. I have deadlift in mind here. But for almost everything else, I always find improved performance when I focus on breathing. Under discomfort this can be a dissassociation strategy as well. You may not want to emulate a ballerina but think of a martial arts master or olympic gymnast having total control and an impassive face during strenuous activity.

Another strategy would be to choose a specific point in the lift to cue yourself to relax your face. For example at the standing position of a getup or top position of the snatch pause. This can be a place to take a sip of air as well so you could you could mentally link the two behaviors so they become automatic (a scientifically validated strategy in the behavior change research). You want to try to make this behavior automatic. I have a cue to check if I am packing my left shoulder in the tall sit, which is my weakness in the getup.

Finally, bodybuilder posing! Really. Muscle control and independent contraction of muscles is a long lost art of oldtime bodybuilding and can help contraction strength.

Thank you for the suggestion I have been reaching that "grace" at times on the left leg pistols.

What I believe to be a good example of grace in pistols (notice how relaxed the face)


Although mine are slower with a longer pause at the bottom, and, obviously, not as graceful
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Jak Nieuwenhuis
Sometimes, evil lies in the details. For instance, I noticed that I perform better pistols with straigth...fingers (so I do not clench the fists). However, I press better by clenching the fists. I do not know why, this is my "natural way" to do these moves. Everyone is different so I guess we all have some "personal tips" ;)

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

ali

Level 7 Valued Member
What's an acceptable depth for a pistol? 90 degrees, just below or full butt to calf?
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

I believe butt to calf with a pause at the bottom is protocol for NW
+1

However when one starts the positive phase (even when doing a real pause at the bottom), one has to be cautious : avoiding a "rebound" at the very beginning. This rebound can be voluntarily created by starting the positive phase (only a few centimeters) then, "brutally" getting down to then use the flexibility of the butt / calf as a spring.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 
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