If there’s one thing people often struggle with during their workouts, it is breathing. Sounds silly, I know! You’d think that because we do it without thinking, it would come naturally, but this is not the case. Fitness instructors are constantly reminding their clients to breath while they lift weights, cycle, run, etc.
People tend to breathe too fast or too slow, fail to breath out at the right times, and often hold their breath too much. Poor breathing technique can and will negatively affect your performance!
Why is breathing so important for good athletic performance?
Oxygen is carried throughout your body when you inhale; carbon dioxide is purged from your body when you exhale. The fact is, your body must have more oxygen and less carbon dioxide while you exercise, and breathing is the only way to do it. Every time you inhale while you are working out, you’re supplying your muscles with nutrient-rich blood.
Weight lifting and breathing correctly
Always breathe in during the least intense part of a lift, and breathe out during the most intense part. For example, if you are doing squats, breathe in while you are lowering yourself towards the ground, and breathe out as you push yourself away from the ground; inhale while you lower your bench press toward your chest, and exhale as you push it back up. This will increase your power and allow you to lift more weight each time.
You should never ever hold your breath. Ever. This is a very common thing for beginners to do while lifting, and it hurts their performance. It may feel like you can exert more force if your hold your breath and grunt, but this is wrong. Holding your breath starves your muscles of the oxygen they need to perform the lift. It starves the brain too, which will make you feel dizzy and fatigued.
Proper breathing while doing cardio
Be sure to take long, deep breaths while doing cardio exercises such as running or cycling. Many people are unsure if they should breath in through their nose or through their mouth. It really depends on whatever you prefer. Many people believe that nose breathing requires more control and focus, while other people believe that they get more oxygen through the mouth.
Whichever you prefer, make sure you fill your stomach with air each time you breathe in and exhale in a slow and controlled manner. Your rhythm should be slow and steady. Don’t let your abs become too tight or you might not get as much air as possible.
Breathing while doing Yoga
Yoga is the perfect exercise to help you master the skill of controlled breathing. I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already!
While doing your yoga exercises, take slow breaths with your diaphragm. Fill your stomach with as much air as possible before you breathe out. This promotes full breathing and optimum oxygen delivery. Breathing correctly will also help you workout more intensely because your muscles will feel stronger and less fatigued.