Because if you’re looking to squeeze all the gains possible out of every move, then it’s about time you did think of it. And yes, you actually should “think” about your breathing. Unless your a grizzled gym veteran, there’s a good chance, it’s not happening exactly the way it should on every single lift.
Coordinated smart breathing can aid you in just about every single exercise, regardless of whether you’re chasing a max-weight PR, or you’re piling up high-volume reps in pursuit of muscle hypertrophy. Form is key, right? Controlled breathing can help you own that form.
You may know the basics of this: Exhale during the hard part of any lift. But there’s more to it than that.
Try this: Take a seat or stand still, in front of a mirror, close your eyes, and make yourself relax. When you’re ready, open our eyes and take 10 seconds worth of deep, calming breaths. When you do this, pay attention to how your body moves. When you inhale, does your chest puff up and raise? Do your shoulders rise?
Neither of those things should happen. To maximize performance, you need to breathe through your diaphragm. This allows the diaphragm to lower itself on every inhale, creating more room for your lungs to properly fill with oxygen. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference for your stroke volume (how much air you can get in each breath), circulation, and overall cardiorespiratory capacity. But it’ll be hard to put to action without practice.
Work through this drill to hone your breathing. Then combine this with the basic idea of exhaling as you lift, and you’ll see the gains pile up.
- Lie on your back in a quiet space. Be sure your lower back is flat against the floor and not arched.
- Focus on 10-12 deep belly breaths, taking 5 seconds to inhale, and 5 seconds to exhale. Make sure the chest doesn’t rise, and the stomach completely expands.
- Perform 3 – 4 sets of this drill, then move on to phase 2.
- Flip over. Get on your hands and knees. Inhale deeply and slowly, and focus your energy on your stomach getting as big as a cow’s. Reverse the motion, and pull the belly button as far into your spine as you can.
- Once again, make sure not to allow your chest or shoulders to change in position, and aim for 3-4 sets of 10-12 breaths. Then move to phase 3.
- Stand tall, and repeat the same steps as phases 1 and 2.
This progression needs to be put to action once you’ve got the ropes down. Start with the following 3 movements:
Dumbbell Chest Press (flat)
Dumbbell Seated Overhead Press
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Use weight that’s 50-60% of your 10 rep max, and perform slow-tempo sets of ten using the breathing methods described above. In motion and under exertion, this will be harder than you think if you’re not used to breathing this way from before. But the benefits will speak for themselves. Apply them to every lift, from these exercises, to biceps curls, triceps skullcrushers, and V-ups.