Breathing Techniques To Help You Lift More
Have you ever thought about breathing techniques to help you lift more?
“No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or strong you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly” – James Nestor, author of the New York Times Bestseller Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art.
When you’re working out, you’re most likely focused on your form, tightening your core to support your lower back, squeezing your glutes and performing the exercise correctly, especially when going for that one rep max. While all of this is very important to prevent injury, we are going to explain why your breath and utilizing proper breathing techniques can make a big difference to your lifting routine.
By learning proper breathing techniques, you can reduce stress levels, increase energy levels and improve mental alertness, allowing you to work out harder with quicker recovery between sets.
Instead of shallow breathing, which only fills your upper chest and actually produces tension and fatigue, try diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing lowers your diaphragm as your belly increases in size during the inhale, allowing the lungs to fill more efficiently. It activates the brain’s relaxation centres and the parasympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for rest and digest). Diaphragmatic breathing fully engages your stomach, abdominals and diaphragm.
Instructions for Diaphragmatic Breathing, from the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine:
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable, quiet place.
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- Concentrate on your breathing. Note which hand is rising and which is falling with each breath.
- Gently exhale most of the air out of your lungs.
- Inhale slowly counting to the count of four. Inhale into the belly, causing your abdomen to extend slightly. Make sure not to move your chest or shoulders.
- As you breathe in, imagine the warmed air that’s coming in flowing to all parts of your body.
- Pause for one second and then slowly exhale to a count of four.
- As the air flows out, imagine all your tension and stress leaving the body.
- Repeat until a state of deep relaxation is achieved.
Don’t rush this last step. Take notice on the days you do this practice – how do you feel, are you less stressed, more energized, can you lift more?
During Your Lifting Routine
To improve your personal best max rep, you need the correct form. Coordinating your breathing can support you with proper form.
Before you do your lift, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, relax your shoulders and practice a few rounds of the diaphragmatic breathing exercise listed above. Since you’ve been practicing this exercise regularly outside of your workouts, it’s going to feel more natural and will only improve with practice and time. Do a few rounds until you feel relaxed. Your shoulders and chest shouldn’t be moving, only your belly. The method will help you with how much air you can get on each breath, circulation and overall cardiorespiratory capacity (this is the ability of your circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to your muscles during sustained physical activity).
Once you’re set up for your squat or deadlift, for example, take a big breath into the belly, squeezing as hard as you can against your weight belt (if you use one), hold the breath, and then exhale forcefully through the mouth as you power through the sticking point of the lift.
Focusing on proper breathing techniques gives you time to ensure you’re set up correctly, using proper form and concentrate on putting your all into the workout to achieve maximum benefit.
You may have heard recently about the popularity of breathwork classes. There are a variety of techniques used by different practitioners. Benefits of a regular breathwork practice include:
- Significant reduction in anxiety
- Greater focus
- Better circulation
- Decreased physical pain
- Reduced muscle tension
- Greater self-confidence
- Fewer stress hormones
- Increased libido
We recommend trying a few different types of classes to see which one works best for you. Anecdotal evidence of the benefits of breathwork includes feeling great the day after a class. There is an experience of deeper sleep and feeling much stronger and more energized during workouts the next day.
By utilizing the power of the breath, you can achieve greater physical strength and stamina. It is not something to be ignored but rather to actively include it as part of your physical training routine. Breathe on!
If you’re looking for more information on which supplements that will help you lift more, visit us in store and have a chat with one of our experts. We can also be reached on Facebook and Instagram. Now it’s your turn to tell us, have you tried out different breathing techniques before? Be sure to tag us! We are #ReflexNation.