Breathe people! I harp on about this in my PT’s all the time and in my online videos, and it isn’t a surprise to me anymore of the amount of people, even those that are very fit have breathing inefficiencies during their workouts.
Most commonly I see Chest Breathing. Rather than breathing deeply through the belly using the diaphragm, it’s common to see breathing through the top of the chest, which forces the body to rely on other muscles not built for the task at hand. When you breathe through the chest, you’re using a lot of ancillary muscles, such as those in the neck, that you really don’t need to use. This can also reinforce neck and shoulder tension common among office workers. Following the age-old principle “Use it or lose it,” this reliance on ancillary muscles also weakens the diaphragm. A weak diaphragm will fatigue easily during exercise, meaning your muscles won’t receive the optimum amount of blood flow during your next training session.
I also see – Shallow Breathing. Another bad habit when it comes to our breath? We’re working too hard to get in the oxygen that we need. Rather than taking deep, full breaths, we’re resorting to shallow, quick ones, forcing the body to work overtime to get the same amount of oxygen. This could partly be due to poor posture, most prevalent among those who slump over a screen all day. With the shoulders hunched forward, we lose part of our ability to expand our diaphragm and take the big, full breaths that can boost workout performance, increase efficiency, and help manage stress.
Then there is – Lack of Rhythm. If you’ve ever focused on your breathing while running to help pass the time, you’ve likely noticed a specific rhythm to your breath. Perhaps it matched the pace of your footsteps or your arm swing. Whatever the pattern, breathing smoothly and rhythmically can play a calming role. If your breathing is erratic, it’s hard to get into the zone — whether that’s doing a HIIT session of thrashing out some press ups. Breathing has a huge impact on our health and fitness, but we’re probably not taking advantage of it just yet.
The good news is that anyone can improve their breathing with even a small time investment. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdominal area. For one to two minutes, take deep, focused breaths, making sure you spend as much time on the exhalation as the inhalation. In fact, the exhalation will often be deeper than the inhalation. The key with this exercise is to make sure that your abdominals rise before your chest. Since breathing has such an impact on athletic performance, the warm-up is the perfect time to refocus the priority on your breath.
By focusing on your breath prior to exercising, you’re reinforcing proper breathing mechanics before any weight lifting or HIIT takes place. Resulting in less huffing and puffing once your training session starts, leading to a more efficient workout. Trying to remember when and how to breathe while working out can be tough. To put it simple – exhale on the exertion of the exercise, you will see in many of my videos I use quite heavy breathing this it to teach you and show you when and where to breathe. Get your breathing right during a workout you will realise that you can not only keep going longer or able to put more effort into the exercise, but you will find the exercises easier to perform as well, resulting in an all round better workout and reaching your goals quicker. It also helps you in activating your core muscles to stabilise you and prevent injury…win win!