Learn to Breathe Properly and Boost Your Workout | STACK

Learn to Breathe Properly and Boost Your Workout

May 5, 2011

Must See Conditioning Videos

The idea that many athletes need to learn to breathe properly might sound ridiculous at first. But many young athletes are breathing improperly during their workouts, thus failing to maximize their strength training.

Think of how many bright red faces you’ve seen at the gym. That doesn’t necessarily mean their owners are having a great workout. It could mean they’re breathing backwards, or not at all. “Breathing backwards” refers to those who take in a big gulp of air as they struggle to lift the weight, exhaling after they finally get to the top of the exercise. “Not at all” refers to the Valsalva maneuver, which is the practice of forcefully exhaling against a closed airway. Weightlifters commonly use this technique, believing the trapped air in the body helps stabilize the spine during a lift, preventing injury.

This is actually dangerously inaccurate. In fact, “a study published in the June 1986 issue of the journal Spine found that the Valsalva maneuver actually increases the pressure of the spine,” says personal trainer and Livestrong.com contributor Kimberly Wonderly. “Dr. Michael Hall, a family physician for DuBois Regional Medical Center in DuBois, Pennsylvania, states that the Valsalva maneuver increases your risk of stroke, raises the amount of pressure within your eyes and greatly elevates your blood pressure.” Breathing in this manner also risks dizziness and fatigue, either of which would probably end your workout early.

Wonderly continues, “Proper breathing brings focus to both your breath and your body, which allows your body to signal you if a lift poses a risk of injury through improper form or too much resistance.”

Let’s break down proper breathing techniques for the Bench Press as an example of when you should inhale and exhale:

  1. As you lower the bar to your chest, inhale deeply through the nose, expanding your diaphragm
  2. As you push the bar, begin comfortably exhaling through the nose and mouth until you return to the top of the exercise
  3. Repeat this process by inhaling once again as you lower the bar for another rep

In short, the rule is to exhale when you exert force [push the bar] and inhale as you relax [lower the bar]. This pattern of breathing will allow you to focus on your form and engage the muscles needed to complete the exercise.

Like a sport-specific skill, proper breathing can take time and practice to master. But in the end, it’s worth it, and you’ll notice benefits in your workouts. For more help in mastering your breathing technique during strength training, tweet us at @STACKMedia.

Source:  Livestrong.com
Photo:  naturesfitnessmodel.com

Joe Baur
- Joe Baur is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Miami University [Oxford, OH]. He became certified with the National...
Joe Baur
- Joe Baur is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Miami University [Oxford, OH]. He became certified with the National...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

If you haven't heard of altitude training, where have you been? Increased endurance and extended overall time-till-fatigue are hallmarks of effective...

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

STACK Challenge: 5 Minutes of Treadmill Torture

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Why You're Doing Mountain Climbers Wrong and How to Fix Them

Who Invented the Burpee?

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

In Defense of Cardio

In-Season Baseball Pitcher Workout Program

Alactic Capacity: What It Is and Why Athletes Need It

STACK Challenge: The 100-Burpee Challenge

STACK Challenge: The 10/10 Treadmill Challenge

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Can You Survive the

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

Essentials of Spring Football Training

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

Can You Survive These 4 Crazy Plate Push Finishers?

Full Body Workout: 6-Week Conditioning Plan

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Training Secrets of UFC Champion Johny Hendricks

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

Train Harder With Hill Sprints

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

Get in Game Shape With 4 Conditioning Combos

Full-Body Conditioning Workout: 3 Loaded Carry Variations