Maintaining an appropriate breathe while performing training exercises can be crucial in obtaining better results from your program, in addition to looking after our health
Knowing how to Breathe during the Exercise
“Place yourself under the bar, spread your feet apart, keep the tension constant, ensure correct grip, look to the front, don’t bend your back… ah! above all, control your breathing…”
Each exercise has a different technique, but it’s important to know.
But even before that, there’s correct breathing technique… we normally breathe a dozen times in a minute, and so 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days… until our last days…
It might seem that, with so much air coming and going, we might have our breathing under control. But as far as exercise is concerned, the situation changes drastically. Many people don’t know how to breathe properly during sporting activity, and this fact detracts from their performance and effectiveness.
One solid, simple rule is this: exhale during the moment of greatest effort
The advice is quite brief, and some exercises require certain “modifications”. When greater effort is required, holding your breath is another method to contemplate, in fact it’s almost essential.
How to Breathe while doing a Squat
At the beginning of the squat, while standing upright, you inhale, take a deep breath, and then begin to perform the exercise, lowering and holding the air, and once the ascent begins, you slowly release it.
This is the method for lifting heavy weights.
One advantage of the movement is that we start from a “comfortable” position to inhale.
How to Breathe while doing a Bench Press
For another of the basic exercises, and one of the most demanding in which it’s essential to know “how to do it”, is the bench press.
For correct execution, linking your breathing with the movement, you need to:
- Hold the bar, with a strong and secure grip. Take it out of the rack
- With arms outstretched, inhale, taking in a deep breath of air, so that your rib cage expands
- Then lower the weight until it touches your chest
- With your rib cage fully expanded, as you begin to lift the weight, to the starting position, you’ll slowly exhale
For a very heavy set, there’s nothing wrong with taking small breaths before starting another rep.
How to Breathe while doing a Deadlift
The correct mastery of this technique will undoubtedly mitigate the risk of injury in this exercise, where we start from an uncomfortable, “compressed” position.
Because heavy weights are often handled, there’s a need to maintain core stability, which afterwards will generate a state of general tension of the body, while protecting several important areas, such as the spine.
Breathing when you’re going to execute a deadlift should be the same as when you’re about to throw a punch…
As I said before, this exercise has the peculiarity that we’re start from a “forced” position, and that the first breath of air is therefore not so simple to take…
If we’re in the starting position, we can’t take a deep breath and expand the abdomen.
There are two options to solve this:
- Breathe “up”. That is, standing, and then go down and grab the bar. In a sense, this is a more advanced technique and for more experienced lifters
- Breathe when our “backside” is in the best position, or in other words, find a point at which it’s comfortable for us to take a breath when we’re “down”. Basically, we do this by raising the hips, holding the bar, and then positioning ourselves in the starting position and keeping all the tension.
When you start to lift the bar, hold your breath, and once you’ve reached the lift, exhale little by little until you bring the bar back to the floor.
Breathing between Sets
These types of exercises are anaerobic, meaning your body uses oxygen at a higher rate than it can replenish during the execution of the movements.
Thus, after finishing each “set”, you’ll have an oxygen deficit, which your body will have to compensate to redo another set.
Taking squats as an example, at the end of a heavy set of the, you’ll look like a locomotive. Therefore, between sets, you should rest long enough to return to your baseline breathing rhythm or to a level that will allows you to safely tackle another set.
Depending on your training protocol, you might want to”shorten” your break…
Resting less than the amount needed before starting another set brings “consequences”, such as overfatiguing your muscles, and possibly failing to complete the next set.
However, if you rest more than is needed, you might not reap the benefits of doing consecutive muscle work sets, such as increasing time under stress or metabolic stress.
Rest as long as it takes you to return to normal breathing, and then start another set to give it your all…
Recommendations for Improving Inter-Set Recovery
- Between sets, choose to rest on a bench, or better yet, stand up resting your arms on a bar to relax the rib cage. During this time, breathe and let your abdomen distend.
- Many people make the mistake of breathing “from the chest”. If you watch any animal breathe, you’ll see how they allow their abdomen to distend, which makes it easier for the diaphragm to work.
- You may find it difficult to breathe when you first start training. If you want to know why, click here
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