Are you practicing proper breathing while exercising? Yes, breathing properly when working out can provide some nice benefits. Breathing incorrectly can also have an effect on your results.
Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Who really needs instructions on how to breathe?” Since we’ve been breathing every minute of our existence it feels like its safe to say we’re all experts in it. After all, it is an involuntary response to our need for oxygen so we practically do it on autopilot.
However, there are more effective ways to breathe than others that will give you more oxygen when you need it most.
In fact, it has been reported that most people use 10 – 15% of their total lung capacity for breathing. We clearly are not using close to our total lung capacity which is vital when doing exercise to deliver much needed oxygen and nutrients to our muscles.
The Basics of Proper Breathing While Exercising
Let’s discuss the basics when it comes to breathing during your workout. Breathing is an automatic process, which makes it next to impossible to control unless you consciously focus on controlling it.
The first thing you need to do in order to improve your breathing while working out is to make yourself aware of your breathing patterns while exercising. By doing this you can manually take over your breathing and alter your breathing patterns.
When you’re doing cardio exercise it is important to breathe long deep breaths instead of shallow quick breaths. It is also important you are relaxed when breathing as this opens your airway more to allow for even deeper breathing.
You can do this by practicing diaphragmatic breathing. The steps for doing this type of breathing are:
- Relax your abdominal muscles slightly. Don’t be too tense with your abdominal muscles otherwise you’ll limit how fully you can breathe.
- Take a breath deeply enough so that your belly and not your chest will rise and fall as you inhale and exhale.
Continue to practice this technique at your own pace for your oxygen needs. What I found that helps me practice diaphragmatic breathing is to picture how the air goes into my lungs this way. I imagine the air going to the bottom of my lungs first and filling all the way up. Whereas in chest breathing you’ll only fill the top part of your lungs with air.
When it comes to proper breathing while lifting weights, you want to make sure you practice diaphragmatic breathing. You also want to inhale on the easier phase of exercising (usually bringing the weight down) while exhaling on the exertion phase. This allows for your body to get the oxygen it needs just in time for you to exert the most force during your reps.
Breathing correctly can allow you to work out at your maximum potential and push you to be able to do that extra mile or those extra couple of reps.
When deciding whether to breathe through your nose or mouth it is a personal preference. Many athletes find that breathing through their mouth provides a greater amount of oxygen.
I personally like to inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth when I am not too stuffy. By inhaling through your nose you use your body’s natural air filtration system. Yes, your nose acts as an air filter for things that may be floating in the air.
Have you notice if you’re struggling breathing properly while exercising?