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IS4U - Intra Abdominal Pressure in Training

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

A compact style Kung Fu belt that can be worn anywhere.
Traditional Kung Fu Belt

Why do we Care About Intra Abdominal Pressure?

Pressurizing our abdomen and using that pressure as a source of stability and strength is a key element of Integrated Strength training. The idea is not unique to martial arts but can be found throughout sports, movement arts and healing practices in various forms.

This installment of IS4U looks at the use of a very important training tool, the belt. Often associated with rank and/or style a martial arts belt also helps us create and control our intra abdominal pressure while we perform our exercises & practices. A good belt helps:

  • Remind us to keep a baseline of pressure in the abdomen

  • Enhance the pressure feeling to provide a feedback loop

  • Stabilize or brace our frame

  • Protect our soft middle from getting damaged

  • Hold up our pants

In the video below I show a few different styles of belt I have used and explain their purpose.

What to Look for in a Training Belt

Essential any sort of belt can be utilized and the ideal style may change depending on your activity. Generally speaking these are the characteristics to look for:

Comfort - If you won't wear it or can't wait to take it off, look elsewhere.

Convenience - Some of the more traditional belts can be a pain to take on and/or off, especially when they get worn.

Adjustable - You want to be able to cinch it down and loosen it up when necessary without a lot of hassle.

Wider - A thin belt can feel pinchy and does not give much surface area to work with.

Covertness - No reason to walk around looking like something out of a kung fu movie.

Some tips on working with Intra Abdominal Pressure

  • Incorporate donning your belt as part of beginning a Formal Practice session

  • Go slow, work incrementally to give your tissues time to change

  • Use your belt and/or pay attention to the role of intra abdominal pressure in other activities. I often wear a belt while snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking and other activities because it enhances my performance and helps to make the habit of incorporating IAP subconsciously.

  • Be careful with testing....yes, proper use of your belt over time can result in the ability to resist blows and makes for a great party trick. Go easy and remember that receiving blows is what killed Houdini!

A few Style of Belt to Choose From

Share your experiences!

Use the comment section below to share how you make this practice work for you!

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