Sunday, January 4, 2015

Breathing techniques for improved performance

Can the way you breathe affect weight training results? You might say; it’s quite simple and we do it unconsciously, just breathe in and out, why complicate things right?!

Well… the way you breathe does actually make a difference; and doing it right would help improve you performance, increase energy and decrease recovery time between sets.

Read more about speeding up training recovery.

 

Are you breathing properly?

Most of us are unaware that we usually take weak and shallow breaths (usually referred to as chest breathing). To test if you’re a chest breather, follow these seas steps:

- Sit down with your back straight and put you right hand on your chest and the left hand on your abdomen.

- Take a normal breath as you usually do.

- If your right hand rose first, then you are a chest breather and so aren’t breathing properly.

 

Why breathing technique is important?

Chest breathing (weak and shallow breaths); leads to poor oxygen supply, less fat burning, faster fatigue and decreased energy levels. Now imagine all that happening while you’re training and your body is in most need for oxygen. That’s why correct breathing patterns are important in training as well as in your daily life.

 

Can I change how I breathe!!

Proper breathing can be learned and acquired with practice and pursuit, and one of the best and most common breathing exercises is Abdominal Breathing Technique. To do it, follow these steps:

- Place one hand on your chest and the other on the abdomen.

- Take a deep breath from the nose making sure to breathe through your stomach, and that your lower hand (on the abdomen) raises more than the upper hand.

- Now exhale slowly through your mouth, exhalation to inhalation ratio is 2:1, meaning that exhalation take as twice the time of inhalation.

- Repeat the cycle 5 times with speed of (6 breaths per minute) start doing it twice a day, plus whenever you feel you need it to clear your head up.

- Try to concentrate on abdominal breathing whenever possible, and with time you’ll improve breathing rhythm naturally.

 

Breathing during weight lifting

For new fitness trainees and beginners in weight lifting, it is generally recommended to inhale during the easy part of an exercise and exhale during the hard part of it. For example: if your are doing a bench press, inhale while you’re lowering the bar towards your chest, and exhale while you’re pushing it the way up, no breath holding.

Again, this is recommended for newbie exercisers in addition to persons with hypertension and cardiac problems, because it eases the internal pressure pressure in the chest and arteries. It might be worth to mention that this recommendation is based on theory.

 

But for heavy and advanced lifters, the recommendation is different. For them, inhaling and breath holding during exertion (which is the natural response while lifting something heavy) is important and helps in generating greater force, stabilizing the body, holding the spin in position, prevent lower back injuries and possibly increasing weights lifted during exercise.

To perform a powerful lift or squat for example; you must hold your breath during execution. But do not take maximal breath though, as that would make you uncomfortable while lifting heavy weights. You can exhale lightly through pursed lips to relive some of the pressure.

 

Have any question or addition to the subject? Share us in the comments below.

 

References:

F. Hatfield: Fitness: The complete guide: edition 8.6.6

http://www.amsa.org/healingthehealer/breathing.cfm

http://cas.umkc.edu/casww/brethexr.htm

http://www.fix.com/blog/workout-breathing-techniques/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20045842?pg=2

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