As a first step before starting an exercise I think it’s only right you should only continue reading on after taking a deep breath in and then out.

“So before you took a deep breath in, how aware were you of your breathing?”

It’s a direct reflection of how involuntary and second nature this simple task is to you. Yet Proper breathing during exercise is not always intuitive, nor does it always come naturally. The consequences however, for failing to breathe properly can be harmful to exercise progression and your health.

Learning to breathe during exercise has benefits such as;

• Improving your performance.
• Preventing dizziness during activity.
• Increasing fat burning.
• Increased Vo2 Max /Tissue Oxygenation
• Reduce build up of lactic acid.
• Feel more Relaxed and calm.
• Strengthens stomach/core muscles.

Proper breathing facilitates activation of the deep muscles surrounding the spine, which is known as contraction of the deep core, including the transverse abdominus. These muscles assist in correct posture and protect the spine during movement and lifting as well as turning the core (torso) into a solid conduit. That’s right you can shape and strengthen your stomach just by breathing.

So what will I cover in this blog!!!

• Why to breathe correctly during lifting & cardio activities.
• Breathing techniques to try right now.
• How to breathe during lifting & running.
• Nose breathing Vs mouth breathing.

Lifting Weights:

Now if you’re using external weight like dumbbells, barbells, machine or doing Manual work as a job, learning to breathe correctly during lifting can allow the weight to be transferred to the working muscles effectively and allows you to take full advantage of the biomechanics of the body which will load and direct power to only the target muscles groups. This in turn allows more weight to be moved as the brain stops inhibiting muscle contraction in order to prevent injury and the Valsalva maneuver (meaning – holding your breathe.)

Cardiovascular:

Now if you’re running you’re breathing pattern is going to be very different as well as the way you feel during the activity compared to weight lifting. Weather its jogging, sprinting, running distances or swimming having a rhythmic tempo will allow your diaphragm (The largest and most efficient breathing muscle) to give you a greater output of performance and your body a greater way to utilize oxygen.

Sports & Relaxing:

You will find every activity will have its own breathing style yet with this topic I could go on forever. So if you would like to know about breathing for a specific sport that also includes Yoga & Pilates! Send me a message and I will happily provide you with a practical solution.

“Below are two techniques you can apply right now to your training and while sitting at the desk”

Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique:

•With the diaphragmatic breathing technique take a deep breath in through your nose taking in as much oxygen as you can possibly hold and exhaling forcefully through the mouth.

You force your diaphragm, which is the dome shaped muscle under your chest, down, causing you’re diaphragm to move down or flatten, the ribs flare outward, the lungs expand and air is drawn in, Placing negative pressure on your chest. This forces your lungs to draw in more air and expand. It also draws an extra amount of blood into your chest, which helps improve your stamina during exercise. As much as diaphragmatic breathing provides you with a boost of stamina, it also stimulates your relaxation response, since you will experience calmness and less overall tension in your body.

Good time to use when you‘re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Beats sticking a cancer stick in your mouth (aka cigarette)

SPIRIVA ‘HANDIHALER’ VIDEO 03 “Diaphragmatic Breathing” from Max on Vimeo.

Bellows Breathing Technique.

The bellows breathing technique delivers a quick boost in energy, for which it is also termed “stimulating breath technique.” You should use this technique when you are experiencing extreme fatigue, but it should not replace your normal breathing. With the bellows breathing technique you are recreating the adrenal boost you experience when under stress by taking a series of fast and short rhythmic breaths. This prompts your body to release epinephrine and other energizing chemicals, forcing carbon dioxide out of the body and more oxygen into the body, this help you have energy during exercise. This technique is an alternative to caffeine as you can use it when in need of an energy boost before your workout.

• This is a technique you will see being done by sprinters before or after a race. Take in a series of rapid and short rhythmic breathes in and out through your mouth.

“Ok so it all well and good talking about breathing properly……
How do you do it”?

Breathing & Lifting, How To Do It Right?

Proper breathing where you exert yourself in lifting, pushing, or pulling – is much easier to remember and control than running long distances.
To put it simply: unless you have difficulty breathing through your nose. Always aim to inhale through the nose and exhale out of the mouth on exertion (effort phase of the exercise).

For example,
• When you are pushing a bench press off your chest, you exhale on the push and inhale as you bring the weight slowly to your chest.
• When you are doing a pull-up, you exhale on the pulling up motion and inhale on the way down.
• When lifting a box of a lower surface, you inhale as you go to the low point and exhale as you lift the box up.

Think of it this way you’re about to blow air into a balloon so you breathe in through the nose filling up your lungs with as much oxygen as you can hold and the exhale should be forced out of the mouth as if you were blowing air into a balloon whilst compressing you mid section as you empty out your lunges.

Because it is important in preventing internal injury such as Hernia, blood vessel strain and blood pressure (holding your breathe too long can impede the return of blood to the heart and raise blood pressure) To decrease that pressure, focus on breathing deep all the time – during workouts and in your daily activities.

Breathing Properly for Distance Running, How To Do It Right?

Breathing whilst running is very different, huffing and puffing your way ‘round the track won’t get you to the finish line. It’s a fact that improper breathing technique can impair speed and performance.

While the forces of gravity will be the biggest load the body will deal with, there is no set rule in the way you should breath during running yet you will find that proven techniques such as using a tempo work best.

Tempo system is all about using your foot strike on the inhale and exhale –
• The first tempo style is 2:2
• Breathe in with your first two foot strikes (one left, one right)
• Same again while breathing out.

Once you have become familiar with this tempo you’re lunges should be able to utilize more oxygen. Meaning you can move on to the –
• 3:2 inhale-to-exhale tempo, full inhales and full exhales.
• For example you INHALE on the LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes and EXHALE fully on the RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes.

It may not feel natural at first as you will be thinking about it, yet this rhythm is not that hard to turn into a habit nor is it difficult to master the technique. You will notice a lower heart rate as you are able to utilize more oxygen and as importantly push all the carbon dioxide out of your body.
• Try this technique next time you’re on a run slow your pace down for a few moments practice one of the two breathing techniques mentioned above then go back to your desired pace.
• Your other option would be to practise as you tire during you’re run, slow down and give the breathing techniques a go.

The CO2 in your body will increase if your breathing patterns are short and hurried. This will increase your heart rate and lactic acid production, and decrease your endurance in any cardiovascular event.

So developing your breathing whist running to work with both types of tempos will allow you to get that much needed oxygen into your body and get you through without huffing and puffing your way to the finish line.

The Nose vs. Mouth Breathing:

Weather you use your mouth or nose to breathe they both have there benefits. Allow me to explain!

Breathing through the mouth during exercise is the easier option as it proves to be the route of least resistance and allows you to get oxygen into the body faster.

Yet breathing through the nose would allows you to –

• Filter the air minimizing allergen intake,
• Allows you to take a greater amount of oxygen in while increasing CO2 saturation in the blood, which will create a more calming effect.
• Breathing in through the nose can also help warm the air entering the lungs, meaning more beneficial for cold weather runs and workouts.

Bottom line: keep it simple, test your airways, and see what feels right for you and your lungs.