Breathing properly during a workout, whether you’re running, lifting weights, or playing sports, is crucial to your body. When your body performs at a high exertion level, it requires more oxygen. So the more intense the workout and the harder your body has to work, the more oxygen that needs to be delivered to those working muscles.
Depending on the form of exercise, the breathing technique can vary. But here are the two most common forms of exercise and the proper breathing technique most beneficial for each.
Cardiovascular Exercise: By definition, cardio is any type of exercise that causes your heart to beat faster and harder for a sustained period of time. Forms of cardio exercise include running, swimming, cycling, boxing, rollerblading, dancing, etc.
In order to take in the most oxygen, breathe in through your nose and mouth at the same time to deliver as much oxygen as possible throughout your body. Practice deep breaths as opposed to shallow breaths, and do your best to maintain a consistent and normal breathing pattern. Think of breathing from your abdomen rather than your chest. Being aware of your breathing can help provide a rhythm to your workout. You can practice measuring your breath with your strides to find a rhythm that works for you.
Strength Training: Strength training includes any type of physical exercise that uses resistance to activate muscular contraction. Weight lifting or any resistance based exercise are common forms of strength training.
The proper breathing technique is to exhale on the exertion and inhale on the relaxation. Let’s use the bench press for example. You would exhale while pressing the bar up, finishing your exhale at the top of the lift. Then on the way back down, on the relaxed part of the lift, you would take in a full breath of air. Repeat that pattern for all of your reps. Many of us feel the tendency to want to hold our breath during the strenuous part of a strength or resistance training exercise, so don’t forget to breathe! Breathing improperly or holding your breath for too long can raise your blood pressure and make you feel light headed, dizzy, or nauseous.
Breathing properly is just as important as practicing good form, so start using these breathing techniques to effectively and efficiently get through your next workout and get the results you want.