When you’re focused on form, or the amount of weight you’re about to lift, it can be too easy to forget about your breathing.
Improper breathing can make lifting weights more challenging as it can interfere with your heart’s access to blood. It is important to understand when to breathe while exercising as your muscles need oxygen from your blood in order to work effectively. When breathing properly, your body will begin to adapt and get more oxygen flowing within the muscles.
The last thing you want is to hold your breath. I know a certain someone who tends to hold their breath while lifting heavy weight. By the time the set is over, that person’s face is red, red, red. Not a good thing. It satisfy’s the person, because they were able to increase their weight, but if they were breathing properly, they would be able to lift even heavier. 😉
When you’re lifting weight, whether it be heavy or light, you should focus on exhaling on exertion. Breathing during exertion is important in preventing internal injury such as blood vessel strain or creating high blood pressure.
What exactly does exhaling on exertion mean?
Think of the military press. When you raise the barbell this is where you’re working the muscle; the exertion. As you lower the weight, you would inhale as your releasing your muscles.
In other words; whenever your muscles are in action, exhale.
When you’re doing cardiovascular exercise, especially running or using a machine, keep focused on deep, quick breaths. Breathing shouldn’t be too slow; you should be breathing with your movement.
You can also think this way when performing many bodyweight cardio exercises (such as pendulum swings) or abdominal exercises (such as bicycle crunches). Performing both of these exercises you would be breathing in and out as quickly as you’re moving.
// Tip //
When I run, I exhale over four steps, and inhale over four steps.
This is the only way I have found that I will not get running cramps or stitches in my stomach.
I should probably note; I haven’t gone for a run which lasted more than 30 minutes for close to three years. (or more!) I focus on sprinting only, although I still focus on this breathing rule while I’m sprinting.
While stretching breathing should be nice and slow. Breathe deeply, especially if you’re practising yoga. I’m not going to pretend I know all the yoga stuff cause I don’t. I practice yoga poses, and while I pose I inhale and exhale over a few seconds for each breath. Some stretches I hold over 3 breaths; some I hold over 10. Sometimes if I am in a stretch that is really hard for me, I breathe even slower because I find it helps me “release” deeper into the stretch.
While it may seem too easy to simply breathe while exercising, the next time you’re about to pick up those weights, or go for a run, really think about your breathing. I bet you’ll notice that you feel a lot stronger when it comes to lifting, and I bet you’ll even see some gains. 😉