Are you breathing optimally during your workouts?
How you breathe — both during exercise and while resting — can impact stability, blood pressure, heart rate and overall stress levels. Here are some aspects:
Use your diaphragm for breathing. Your diaphragm is the muscle just below your lungs that helps to expand the space in your chest to allow air to flow into your lungs. It naturally contracts as you breathe in and out.
Concentrating on breathing into your diaphragm can help to increase the amount of oxygen you get each time you inhale. To breathe into your diaphragm instead of your chest, focus on expanding and contracting your belly as you breathe, rather than your chest.
Your muscles need oxygen to function properly, so it’s important to breathe properly during exercise. However you may need to alter the pattern of your breathing for certain types of exercise, such as breathing during a heavy lift.
As a general rule: breathe out while exerting effort or contracting your muscles. Ensuring you exhale out carbon dioxide during the effort keeps you breathing and prepares your lungs to inhale oxygen as your muscles relax. This helps to keep your blood pressure stable and increases endurance, so you can exercise for longer.
During heavy lifts however you want to make sure you are as stable as possible. That's where bracing comes in. Bracing creates more intra-abdominal pressure. This helps stabilise your core. To do this, breath into your belly and press out your core in every direction (front, side and back). Do this before you lift. So set-up, breath in, brace, lift, breath out.
Your breath plays an important role in regulating the autonomic nervous system, which maintains a balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. These nervous systems control whether you are in a stress-response mode (which you want during exercise), fully relaxed (which you want to recover), or somewhere in between. You can use breathing to calm down and help you recover after exercise.
First, try breathing through your nose. Second, focus on exhaling longer than your inhaling. For example 4 seconds in, 8 seconds out.