Many of you unknowingly hold your breath when you’re exercising. It may seem like a minor problem, but it can have a negative impact on your performance. Holding your breath during exercise both raises blood pressure throughout a movement and makes the movement more difficult due to lack of oxygen.
Cressey Sports Performance uses multiple methods to correct breathing mistakes. One such method is to use Postural Restoration Institute exercises during the warm-up. These drills focus on using breathing to help with postural resets.
However, during workouts we focus on what’s called high-tension and core-engaged techniques.
Both high-tension and core-engaged techniques enhance core engagement throughout exercises by counting breaths for repetitions. Using breaths to count repetitions is actually very shrewd as it allows for both a contract and relax phase like eccentric and concentric phases in lifting.
To perform a core-engaged exercise, wrap a band around a pole, and pull it taut with your arms and extend straight up overhead. This will engage the lats throughout all core-engaged exercises and increase core tension. Exercises include Dead Bugs, Glute Bridges, Hip Lifts and more.
From that point, make sure you take a full breath in during the lowering portion of the rep and exhale a full breath on the concentric portion of the rep. This setup will teach you to breathe properly while maintaining a strong core.
The high-tension protocol usually involves bodyweight core exercises or working against a partner’s resistance. Commonly used exercises are Planks, Glute Bridges and Pallof Presses.
Focusing on breathing while performing core exercises adds a challenge to each exercise. Counting breaths provides an equivalent to eccentric (lowering) and concentric (upper) phases of lifts for core exercises held isometrically, as breathing in is the eccentric and out the concentric part.
Finishing an exhale provides a breathless, unstable contracted feeling. Additionally, using breaths ensures that isometric holds are both tense compared to saggy holds, yet comfortable compared to times where breath is held. It finally ensures that breathing is done correctly, which also ensures more stable blood pressure in comparison to when breath is held.
Take a look at some of the examples displayed above (for the Glute Bridges, there is one that is core-engaged, and the other two are high-tension, as they do not use a band in the core-engaged manner), and feel free to look out for more on my Instagram and Twitter to find ways to incorporate core-engaged and high-tension protocols into your training.