Breathe new life into your strength training with these breathing tips
There’s a lot of things you do without thinking when you’re at the gym - sneaking a side glance in the mirror at your gains, reaching for your phone in between sets, loading plates onto the barbell in order of weight & size.
While we wouldn’t ever want you to think twice about that sweaty selfie, it is worth being more mindful of something else your body does automatically - your breathing during exercise. While we can’t live without it, most lifters rarely give proper breathing a second thought, but by focusing on the rate, control and quality of your breathing, you can improve your performance in the squat rack and breathe new life into your lifting.
We’ve broken down everything you should know about proper breathing for better lifting and why you should pay more attention to every inhale & exhale.
HOW DOES BREATHING ACTUALLY WORK?
Every time you inhale you take in oxygen, which is then delivered to your muscles via your blood in order for them to function. The more intensely you move, the more oxygen your muscles will need (kind of like how you’re left panting after those pullups but that yoga flow leaves you feeling relatively peaceful). The more efficiently you can deliver oxygen to those working muscles, the better you can perform, whether it’s lifting heavier, running harder or recovering better from high-intensity efforts. This is why proper breathing is so vital.
We know you might think you already breathe pretty efficiently (you’ve had a lot of practice, right?), but hear us out. One of the best ways of breathing even more efficiently is by focusing on something called diaphragmatic breathing (also known as belly breathing). Diaphragmatic breathing simply means better utilising your diaphragm when you breathe, which is a muscle located between your chest and abdominal cavity, and should be your main muscle of respiration.
The issue is, many of us don’t fully engage this muscle when we breathe, and instead have become shallow breathers over time (we bet most of you could catch yourself shallow breathing right now), due to things like pollution, noise, anxiety & cultural expectations. When you’re always used to breathing in such a shallow way, you won’t be able to deliver oxygen to your muscles as effectively, decreasing your strength and energy in the weight room or home workout space.
TEACH ME HOW TO BREATHE
The aim of diaphragmatic breathing is to fully engage your diaphragm with every breath. We’ve created a breath by breath tutorial for you to try in between sets, in between episodes or at your desk (tell your boss this will make you more productive).
1. Relax your head, shoulders and knees
2. Put one hand on your upper chest, and the other hand just below your rib cage
3. Breathe in slowly and deliberately through your nose, letting the air in deeply towards your lower belly. The hand on your upper chest should keep still, while the hand on your belly should rise. Don’t exhale yet.
Why breathe through your nose? Because of the hairlike structures inside your nose that help filter out pollution, allergens and bacteria before they travel into your lungs. Breathing through the mouth doesn’t provide the same natural filtering and humidification benefits .
4. Tighten your abdominals and let them slowly fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should also move down.
BREATHING TECHNIQUES FOR STRENGTH TRAINING
Deeper breathing exercises are great, but they’re not that practical when you’re halfway through a heavy squat. Here’s a quick breakdown of proper breathing practice during a lift.
1. Regulate your breathing 30-45 seconds before a lift using belly breathing techniques
2. Breathe in during the eccentric phase of the lift (when you’re doing a squat, the eccentric portion is when you’re lowering the weight downward)
3. Breathe out during the concentric phase (when you’re pushing the weight upward). You can reverse this process depending on the exercise
By exhaling during the concentric phase, you’ll increase core engagement and spine stability during the most challenging part of the exercise. Better breathing during exercise or your workout can also help you avoid doubling over with a dreaded mid-session stitch or abdominal cramp, which are typically the result of using the wrong muscle to drive respiration.
PROPER BREATHING DURING CARDIO
Whether it’s a running session or a sweaty stair climber workout, most people will sync their breathing pattern to the rhythm of their workouts (for example, inhaling and exhaling in time with each step on the treadmill). This can actually be a really effective way of breathing during cardio and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your diaphragm. Also, breathe through both the nose and mouth to maximize airflow!
SO YOU LIKE DETAILS?
It’s the small stuff that makes the biggest difference at the gym, and that’s the mantra we follow whenever we create our high-performance, ultra-comfortable activewear pieces. Every element of Ryderwear’s game-changing activewear is handpicked for your performance. From moisture-wicking fabrics to hidden internal pockets - we sweat the small stuff so you can lift big. Check out these community favorites or browse our full selection here
Amazon Scrunch Bum Leggings
These full-length leggings feature a moisture-wicking, four-way stretch fabric that lets you move without restriction, perfect for your most dynamic, high intensity workouts. The high waisted crossover waistband supports you through the toughest training days, while the signature scrunch bum lets you flaunt your results.
Staples Sports Bra
Your new gym bag staple. The Staples Sports Bra is an easy-to-wear and comfortable fit, keeping you in place during your toughest workouts.
Energy Mesh T Shirt
Made with performance in mind. The breathable mesh fabric has a lightweight feel to it, so nothing holds you back from performing at your best in the squat rack. The design is physique enhancing, so you can show off your hard work too.
Camo Tech Mesh Baller Tank
Take your training to the next level with this lightweight, breathable baller tank that moves with every exercise you do. The low cut armhole design and stretch fabric allows freedom of movement, so you can focus on nothing else but your next PB.