Breathing and Exercise
There exists a sacred link between two friends. A link that when it’s broken the host dies. These two things cannot live without each other no matter what.
What is this sacred link? Well it’s breathing and exercise. This misconception has actually bled into the terminology of trainers that they share with their client. I know you have heard these two terms before: “Aerobic” and “Anaerobic” exercise. Aerobics has been associated with running, classes, cycling, etc. and anaerobic with weightlifting. This is completely off. Let’s get one thing straight here. You cannot. I repeat cannot! Lift weights without breathing. So, by that definition weightlifting can be designated as an aerobic exercise.
With that I will get into 3 of my favourite breathing tactics that you can experiment with when you are lifting:
The Valsalva Technique:
This is a very advanced technique. You could potentially pass out if you do this wrong. And passing out while workout with weights is highly not recommended. It is reserved for those that have practiced this technique like powerlifters and strongmen. This is how you perform this breathing technique:
1. Plug or don’t allow air to come through your nose
2. Close your mouth
3. Try to exhale as if your trying to inflate a balloon
4. Bear down, as if you are about to have a bowel movement
As you can see when you are doing this breathing technique it will cause two things at the end of the movement. It will cause your blood pressure to spike and it will make you lightheaded. So, I highly recommend that if you do use this breathing technique to start off with light weight to get used to these two spikes.
When I mean “normal” what I mean is it should take 1 second for eccentric movement, 1 second hold, 1 second concentric, 1 second hold. Your breathing should mimic this. 1 second exhale, 1 second hold, 1 second inhale, 1 second hold (respectively). This is the most common breathing pattern that you can implement and what all trainers prescribe to their clients. This is not right or wrong, but it is the most basic form of breathing that you can implement when you work out.
Exhale, hold, inhale, hold:
Now this one is a bit more complicated to explain on paper and pen (or in this case keyboard to screen) but I’ll try. At the start of the movement you exhale, as you lift you are holding your breath, at the end you inhale, as you move to the start you are holding your breath. So, during the movement you are holding your breath and when you are holding you are breathing. This is again an advanced form of breathing technique because of all of the internal pressure being build up in your body and really should be done with lighter masses at first or under professional supervision.
And there you have it folks, my three favourite breathing techniques that I consistently use at the gym for my own training. I suggest you try them but just be careful with the more advanced ones. You can and will pass out or come close to it. With the advanced ones, as I said before, use lighter weights until you feel comfortable with the feeling of it.