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Breathing
Breathing Techniques for a Better Workout

Breath Properly for Better Results

Breathing is one of those things that most people do pretty well. When you breathe in your lungs expand and your body processes the oxygen. Then when you breathe out, carbon dioxide is expelled and your lungs contract. Simple. Unfortunately many people aren't doing it right.

Now you're probably wondering, "How can I screw up breathing?"

You want to make sure you're using your entire lung capacity. If you're only using part of your lungs, you won't be taking in the maximum amount of energy-producing oxygen.

Here's a simple test to see how well you're doing.

Look at your chest and abdomen while you're breathing. Now place one hand on the part that rises and falls the most during each breath. If your abdomen is moving more, you're doing fine. But, if your chest is doing most of the moving, you're not utilizing the lower part of your lungs. Breathe in through your nose and concentrate on filling your abdomen with air. Your abdomen should rise and your chest should move very little.


Technically Speaking

When you take a breath, the oxygen diffuses across the alveolar membrane into the pulmonary capillary. The oxygen then binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells and carbon dioxide is released. Sodium bicarbonate dissolved in the blood of the pulmonary capillary also releases carbon dioxide. The high concentration of carbon dioxide in the pulmonary capillary leaves your blood, passes across the alveolar membrane into the air sac and then is expelled from the alveolus when you exhale.


Look at your chest and abdomen while you're breathing. Now place one hand on the part that rises and falls the most during each breath. If your abdomen is moving more, you're doing fine. But, if your chest is doing most of the moving, you're not utilizing the lower part of your lungs. Breathe in through your nose and concentrate on filling your abdomen with air. Your abdomen should rise and your chest should move very little.

Resistance Training

If you're working out, you also need to concentrate on when you breathe in and out. Your body's core is unique because it has the dual requirements of respiration and stabilization. With most exercises you should inhale during the eccentric phase (the part of the exercise when you're lengthening the muscle).

Follow These Steps - Core Activated Breathing

STEP ONE - Place your hands on your abdomen. Inhale feeling your abdomen distend. Exhale, imagining a string attached to your belly button, pulling the belly button to the spine.

This technique will engage your deep abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis. Careful not to exhale so much that your abdominal muscles cave in. Practice this technique for 5 to 10 breathes until you are comfortable with it.

STEP TWO - Flatten out your hands with the palms up and fingers together. Place your finger tips directly underneath your shoulders below your ribs. Push your fingers under your ribs into your sides. While keeping the belly button string taught, inhale into the belly so the pressure builds into your abdomen without your abdomen distending. Exhale. If done properly, your abdomen won't distend but your fingers will be pushed out on both sides.

Congratulations. You just completed on rep of core activation breathing. Now your assignment is to breathe like that for every rep of every set of every resistance training exercise you do from now on.

Click Here for photos on how to learn Core Activated Breathing.

Specific Exercises

Exhale when you push objects away from your body doing exercises like the bench press and overhead press AND when you bring objects toward your body during pulling exercises such as the bicep curl and pull-downs. If you're doing squats, inhale on the descent and exhale as you ascend back up.

Breathing is also a key to your tempo. How fast or slow you breathe will control the speed of your movements.

If you're moving too fast to synchronize your movements with your breathing, you're probably moving too fast to maintain proper form. Slow down and concentrate.

Cardio Training

In an effort to learn more about breathing patterns, experiments were conducted with swimmers. Researchers wanted to see if changing natural breathing rates would help them become more efficient.

It didn't work.

People tend to breathe rhythmically. When walking most people take 4 strides for each breath or 4:1. Joggers need more oxygen to help provide energy so they tend to be at 2:1. The swimmers that modified their breathing patterns actually experienced a decrease in overall efficiency. It appears that when doing cardio exercises, breathing at a natural pace is the most efficient.

Bad News / Good News

One of the unfortunate side effects of aging is that our lungs become less elastic, reducing their capacity, and there are no exercises to improve the elasticity of lung tissue. Fortunately if you exercise, that reduced elasticity can be at least partially offset by regular cardio workouts. People who exercise have more energy burning enzymes and large networks of capillary blood vessels to help them get more oxygen into their blood.

Whatever you do, don't worry if you can't get it down perfectly. The main thing to remember when exercising is avoid holding your breath, your body needs the oxygen. Without enough oxygen your heart rate will quickly increase and overall performance will suffer, leading to complications like dizziness, fainting, heart attack, hernia or stroke. Breathing properly can help you maintain proper tempo and avoid potential injuries.

Do you get Side Stitches when running?
Click Here to learn how breathing properly can prevent it.

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10/29/2006

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  • Valsalva Maneuver

    This is a technique where you take a deep breath, hold it and tighten the abdominal muscles to achieve maximal stability of the spine.

    Don't attempt this without supervision.

    Eccentric Phase is lengthening the muscle, Concentric Phase is shortening the muscle. Exhale on concentric and Inhale on eccentric.