Believe it or not, on top of all of the other things you should be mindful of when you're working out (form, stance, appropriate weight), another small factor to think about to improve your workouts is breathing.
Your body needs oxygen in order to function and the more you move, the more oxygen it needs. This is why when you're doing an exercise like running or weight lifting, you find you breathe heavier than when you're at rest. Oxygen is a type of fuel for your muscles.
Make sure you're never holding your breath while exercising. This will spike your blood pressure causing you to pass out.
How to breathe properly during exercise
Breathing properly during exercise can help you achieve better results. You'll be able to run farther and faster, help you lift heavier, can help with muscle endurance, and help you recover more quickly.
The type of breathing you want to aim for is called diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing activates the diaphragm and helps you take those deeper breaths you may be looking for while training.
Breathe in slowly through your mouth or nose and let your abdomen fill up. Slowly exhale while your abdomen collapses. Lots of us don't breathe in this way and end up with short, shallow breaths that can leave us gasping for air.
A way to practice this is to lay on your back with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in slowly and deeply, filling your abdomen instead of your chest.
How to breathe properly while weight lifting
While strength training there's a certain rhythm to have to your breathing to achieve the best results and to have your muscles last longer during your session.
When strength training you want to be breathing out on the "work" or concentric phase of the exercise, and breathing in on the "rest" or eccentric portion.
Here are some examples of when to breathe out (concentric portion) for different exercises:
Squats (pushing exercise) - When pushing yourself up to a standing position
Bicep curl (pulling exercise) - When curling the weight up towards your shoulder
Crunch - When crunching up and engaging your abs
During a squat, you'll want to breathe out while pushing yourself to a standing position and breathe in while lowering yourself down towards the floor because of the way the concentric and eccentric phases work for that exercise.
If you're performing an isometric exercise like a plank, breathe normally throughout the exercise.
Breathing properly makes a big difference. Try it next time you're having a session and if you have any questions don't be afraid to contact me.
Happy breathing, team!
Next blog post: How to squat without knee pain.
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