How you breathe during your workouts can really effect your energy, form and the results you get. Breathing normally isn’t something we think about too much and it should be effortless. But, if you put a little thought and mindfulness into your breaths during your workout, you will get better results all the way around.
I started focusing more on my breathing a few years ago when I started doing more yoga. In yoga (especially hatha,ashtanga and vinyasa classes) each pose is done with a breath (either inhale or exhale or both). I started to realize why it was important to inhale and exhale during certain moves and began to see the benefits of each breath. Above all, just the fact that I was focusing more on my breath and less on the difficulty and uncomfortableness of each pose helped me push through the workout and get more out of it. So, I translated this focus onto my running workouts and also weight training. Below is my cheat sheet for when to inhale/exhale during certain workouts…
A good rule to follow in yoga is you inhale whenever your body or eyes are going up (ie upward dog, or coming into Warrior I) and exhale whenever you are going down (ie down dog, forward bend,etc). Also, in yoga we do “nostril breathing” – breathing just through the nose and this takes some practice. Just be very “mindful” of each breath you take because it will help your body relax (especially the exhales) and clear your mind.
When you run, your breath should be pretty effortless and relaxed. However, when you start to pickup the speed or feel yourself getting tired, shift your focus on to your breathing. When your heart rate starts to elevate, your natural reaction is to probably take a bunch of short breaths. Try not to do that and instead, deepen your breathing. Take a long inhale through your nose and long exhale through your mouth. The bigger the breaths you can take – the faster your heart rate will drop and your muscles will relax. When you are sprinting or going super fast, it may help you to take in one deep inhale and then 3-5 mini exhales. Each little exhale will help you relax more. These tips can also be applied towards other cardio.
In weight training you want to exhale on the concentric (when the muscle shortens) part of the movement. This is usually the “hard” part of the exercise, like when you are lifting the weights up when you do bicep curl or when you push your heels in the ground to stand up from a squat. By exhaling, you give your core more stabilization and you give your body more power and focus to lift/push/pull a heavy weight (or your bodyweight).
*You can also ready this post and view comments/ questions on my “Ask The Expert” blog on ExerciseTV’s blog HERE.