Weight Lifting Breathing Technique

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How to Breathe when Lifting Weights?

There have been some confusing and conflicting suggestions about what the correct breathing technique is when lifting weights. But with sports science doing extensive studies on this subject the correct technique has now been clearly demonstrated.

Whenever you perform any exercise the muscles send a message to the brain for more energy. This is immediately done by first increasing your heart-rate which is going to demand more oxygen by breathing deeply and correctly at the same time.

The correct way to breathe when lifting a weight is to exhale slowly as you lift the weight and as you return the weight to the starting position to breathe in normally as possible. You should always try to breathe normally when lifting weights and if you are completely out of breathe to stop until your breathing returns to normal.

A lot of the controversy mentioned above is the use of holding your breath as the lift gets more strenuous. This elevates the blood pressure immediately and could be dangerous if you are already dealing with high blood pressure. It is therefore recommended that if you can't perform the exercise without holding your breath you should use a lighter weight.

But that is only part of the correct breathing technique as it gets more complicated as we get into what is known as the Intra-abdominal pressure or IAP. IAP is pretty much what it sounds like, an increase in pressure that occurs within the abdomen and this helps to mechanically stabilize the spine and prevent it from buckling under heavy loads.

The way to increase the effectiveness of your training and increase your strength is by performing a Valsalva or Partial Valsalva maneuver; this simply refers to exhaling against a closed glottis (windpipe). It's sort of an active way of holding your breath.

To explain in more details you should inhale into the belly and that means filling the stomach with air. You should then try to exhale but without letting any air escape because the windpipe is closed off. The best way to describe this is by using the example of when you are on the toilet.

When you’re on the toilet and straining a bit, odds are you reflexively take a breath and then hold it while pushing down. Well that is what is known as the partial Valsalva effect. Although this will have an enormous stabilizing effect on the spine it could also increase your blood pressure so if you suffer from high blood pressure you should consult your doctor first.

Another factor to mention here is about using a weight belt. Many people do not tighten their weight-belt tight enough because it is very tight the abs can be pushed against the belt as support. Doing this helps to further develop IAP and stabilize the spine/core while under heavy load.

So to conclude, what you should do is exhale just past the sticking point as this often helps you not only get through it but finish strongly to the top of the movement. The potential disadvantage is that if you exhale too quickly, you may lose some of the spinal stability that the partial Valsalva provided.

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