We’ve all heard the line before, “make sure you breathe while you’re working out”. We shrug that off because the most important thing we need to do is finish that heavy set of squats, finish that race or hold that yoga pose for just a few more seconds. But the theory behind breathing during exercise is to actually enhance your potential and better yet enhance your performance during the sets, runs or poses. Follow these tips and guidelines for different forms of exercise and how to breathe correctly to further your fitness level!
Breathing for HIIT and Sports
Breathing during high intensity interval training is probably the last thing you’re thinking about- usually just worried about the beeping noises after 30 seconds. Same goes for sports when you’re down by 2 with a few seconds left; breathing seems to be the furthest thing from your mind. But there is a science behind breathing and increased performance. Take for example when you see a basketball player take a few deep breathes at the free throw line. This is a voluntary action that pays great dividends because it provides the brain with more oxygen when the speed of the game has taken away from oxygen and blood flow from the brain. More oxygen and blood flow to the brain and from the lungs means greater focus and concentration to make a couple of free throws when they really count in the clutch.
Knowing when to breathe and hold your breath is crucial during sports. If you’re a football player getting ready to take a big hit from a linebacker, holding your breath enables you to brace your core and tighten up your muscles to provide you with some cushion from the punishing blow you’re about to receive. Same goes for holding your breath when batting during baseball to help your eyes concentrate on the pitch coming in and a soccer player when you kick the ball. Knowing to hold your breath during these moves means you’ll release your breath right after these high-impact heavy moves.
Breathing for Weight Lifting
Breathing while strength training or weight lifting is probably less foreign to most of you reading this. We’ve all heard that you should breathe in during the eccentric or the negative portion of the lift and to breathe out during the concentric or positive portion of the lift. This helps to create greater stability within the body and to protect the body through better blood flow when breathing is coupled correctly with every lift you perform. For example, take the bench press and look at how to perform it correctly with breathing correctly. The negative portion of the movement should start by you breathing in a great big breath of air, holding it in then lowering the weight to your chest. To start the positive part of the lift, blow out all your air (usually in an aggressive manner) and press the weight off your chest simultaneously. This ensures that there is sufficient support to the spine and lumbar throughout the lift and that proper blood flow is being reached to the chest to maximize pump and muscle contraction.
Breathing for Running
Breathing while running is a topic that is looked at again and again but the debate seems to lean more toward whether to breathe through the nose or through the mouth. Many find that breathing through the nose just makes breathing in general incredibly hard. Some have tested and found that breathing through the nose increase CO2 saturation in the blood, which helps with relaxation through long, tough runs. Although this is not true for all athletes, finding out what works best for you is your best bet while running. The tempo that researchers have found and the best is to breathe in for 2-3 steps and breathing out for the same amount of steps. This will ensure balance and help to regulate breathing throughout these long, hard workouts.
Breathing for Yoga
Holding your body in a constant position for multiple seconds doesn’t provide you with an opportune time to breathe. Holding a warrior pose past the point of over-exertion is not the way to go though. Take a breath, and then hop back into the pose at a comfortable pace. Keep your core and body tight throughout out these poses, but always make sure you’re breathing throughout your routines. If you’re still not able to breathe throughout your yoga poses, find some breathing articles to help your respiratory system get stronger and get your breathing on point!