Proper breathing is definitely important when doing any kind of exercise, but did you know that certain breathing exercises can help you lift, too?
The Valsalva Maneuver
This breathing technique basically means taking a big breath and holding it through the full range of motion during a heavy lift. During the eccentric phase (when you lower the weight down and the muscles lengthen or are stretching) this gives the most capacity for oxygen to your lungs. Exhale during the concentric phase of the lift (when you lift the weight up and the muscles shorten).
The Systema Technique
This breathing technique focuses on adapting your breathing style to the work you are performing, so you don’t use more energy than necessary to breathe through a movement.
The main principles are:
- Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth
- Breathe with the frequency that the activity demands in the given moment (no more, no less).
- Do not hold your breath (unless that’s part of the exercise)
This technique is supposed to help you build the skill to remain relaxed while breathing and moving. To practice this, you can lie on your back, close your eyes, and inhale to about 75% of your lung capacity. Tense all of your muscles and hold your breath. Then exhale and relax completely. Repeat the exercise with individual body parts. One arm, one leg, one foot. And relax completely after each exhalation.
Box breathing is a great way to calm yourself down. It’s simple: breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold your lungs empty for four seconds, repeat. This is known as a Navy SEAL breathing technique or tactical breathing. It’s simple and effective in regaining calm and control when under stress.