We all know that exercise is important for our health and wellbeing. But did you know that how you breathe during physical activity can make a huge difference in your performance and endurance? We’ve learned through experience that proper breathing technique is essential. Shallow, rapid breathing won’t cut it and can sap your energy, while deep, controlled breathing will keep you going strong.
In this article, we want to share some of the breathing tips and tricks we’ve picked up over the years to help you get the most out of your workout. Whether you’re a marathon runner, a fitness enthusiast or just starting out with light activity a few times a week, learning how to breathe efficiently will change your exercise game and help you achieve your fitness goals. Take a deep breath and read on!
How Breathing Impacts Your Workout Performance
When we exercise, our breathing has a huge impact on our performance and endurance. As fitness professionals with decades of experience, we’ve learned that mastering our breathing can take our workouts to the next level.
- Oxygenates your blood. Taking full, deep breaths supplies your blood with oxygen, which your muscles need to function. Shallow breathing won’t cut it and will leave you feeling winded quickly.
- Releases carbon dioxide. Exhaling fully removes waste products like carbon dioxide from your body. If too much builds up, it can negatively impact your workout.
- Keeps you in the zone. Focusing on your breathing helps you maintain concentration and push through tough intervals or reps. It gives you something to home in on rather than the discomfort.
- Reduces fatigue. Oxygenating your muscles and blood helps prevent the buildup of lactic acid, which leads to fatigue and soreness. Staying on top of your breathing will allow you to work out longer and recover faster.
- Lowers your heart rate. Taking slower, deeper breaths can help lower your heart rate during intense exercise. This allows you to sustain an increased pace for longer periods. Shallow, rapid breathing has the opposite effect.
In the end, mindful breathing is a tool that can enhance your performance, increase your endurance, and help you get the most from your workout. So take a deep breath and get moving—you'll notice the difference!
Techniques for Efficient Breathing During Cardio Exercise
When we're doing cardio exercise like running, swimming or biking, breathing efficiently is key to our performance and endurance. As fellow fitness enthusiasts, we've picked up a few techniques over the years to share:
- Find your rhythm. Match your breathing to your activity level and speed. For example, breathe in for 3 steps and out for 2 steps while running. Find a pattern that feels natural and sustainable.
- Focus on nose breathing. Breathing in and out through your nose during exercise provides better oxygen exchange and helps you avoid dry mouth. It may feel strange at first, but with regular practice nose breathing can become second nature.
- Take deep belly breaths. Make sure you're using your diaphragm to pull air deep into your lower lungs. Chest breathing is shallow and won't provide enough oxygen for intense activity. Place one hand on your belly to feel it rise and fall with each breath.
- Exhale fully. When exercising, exhale longer than you inhale. A good rule of thumb is to inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds. Exhaling completely removes waste products and allows for a full, oxygen-rich inhale.
- Stay upright. An upright posture, with your head level and spine straight, opens up your lungs and diaphragm. Slouching or hunching over constricts your breathing.
Using efficient breathing techniques during cardio exercise will boost your endurance, increase your speed and power, and help you get the most from your workout. With regular practice, proper breathing can become second nature and improve your performance in all areas of fitness.
The Benefits of Controlled Breathing for Strength Training
Controlled breathing provides oxygen when you need it most
When we strength train, our muscles require extra oxygen to perform the exercises. Controlled, purposeful breathing helps ensure our blood is saturated with oxygen, ready to be delivered to our muscles. As we lift, lower, push and pull, our breathing should remain steady and consistent.
It stabilizes your core
Deep, diaphragmatic breathing engages your core muscles. Your abs, back, and pelvic floor all activate to support your breath. This provides stability for your spine and torso during strength training movements. Without proper breathing and core engagement, you're more prone to injury from improper form or overexertion.
It helps you lift more weight
Holding your breath during strenuous lifts may seem like it gives you a boost of power, but it actually does the opposite. Controlled exhales help brace your core, while inhales deliver fresh oxygen to your muscles. This combination allows you to lift heavier weights with better form. Studies show weightlifters can lift up to 30% more when focusing on breathing technique.
It lowers blood pressure and heart rate
Deep, diaphragmatic breathing has a calming effect on your body. It slows your heart rate and lowers blood pressure. This is beneficial during intense strength training when your heart rate and blood pressure rise. Controlled breathing helps avoid spikes that could impact your performance or endurance. It also makes recovery quicker by bringing your body back to a resting state faster after your workout.
We offer custom training plans to help you reach your fitness goals. We customize your plan based on your current capabilities and an attainable timeline.
Breathing Exercises to Add to Your Training Plan
Proper breathing is essential for any workout routine. As we exercise, our breathing provides oxygen to our muscles and helps remove waste products like carbon dioxide. Using the right breathing techniques can improve our performance, increase endurance, and help us get the most from our training.
Deep Belly Breathing
One of the best ways to start is with deep belly breathing. This helps engage your diaphragm and fill your lungs fully. Sit up straight, place one hand on your belly, inhale through your nose so your belly pushes your hand out, and exhale through your mouth while pulling your belly in. Do this for 5-10 minutes a day to get used to breathing from your diaphragm.
Match Your Breath to Your Movement
Whether you're running, biking or doing yoga, match your breathing to the speed and intensity of your exercise. For example, inhale for 3-4 steps and exhale for 3-4 steps if running or walking. If biking, inhale for 3-4 pedal strokes and exhale for the same. This helps you maintain a steady breathing and heart rate, allowing you to exercise longer.
Exhale on Effort
When doing strength training, be sure to exhale on the effort phase of the exercise. For example, exhale as you lift a weight, and inhale as you lower it back down. Exhaling helps engage your core muscles and provides more power and stability. In yoga, exhale as you move into a pose, and inhale coming out of it.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This is a simple but effective technique to use before, during or after exercise. Sit up straight and place your index and middle finger on your forehead. Use your thumb to close one nostril at a time, inhaling and exhaling through the open nostril. Start by inhaling through your left nostril, closing it with your thumb and exhaling through your right. Then reverse, inhaling right and exhaling left. Do 10-15 cycles to feel centered and calm.
By incorporating these breathing exercises into your regular training, you'll boost your endurance, improve your performance, and develop greater awareness and control over your breathing. Make breath work a habit for enhanced health and fitness.
FAQ: Common Questions About Breathing and Exercise
We all know that breathing is essential to life, but did you know that how you breathe during exercise can impact your performance and endurance? Proper breathing technique is key. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about breathing and exercise:
How should I breathe during cardio exercise?
For most cardio exercise like running, biking or using an elliptical, aim for deep, rhythmic breathing. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Try to find a breathing rhythm that matches your stride or pedaling. This helps maximize oxygen flow which provides energy to your muscles.
What about for strength or high intensity interval training?
During weight lifting or HIIT workouts, exhale forcefully when you exert effort. For example, exhale quickly when lifting a weight. Inhale during the “rest” phase, like lowering the weight back down. This helps tighten your core muscles and provides more power and stability. Be very careful not to hold your breath, especially when bearing down. This can cause dizziness or even loss of consciousness.
How can I improve my breathing technique?
Practice makes perfect. Some tips to improve your breathing technique:
- Focus on taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths that fill your belly, not just your chest. Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach to feel the difference.
- Try box breathing. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds. Repeat. This helps slow your breathing and make it more controlled.
- Do breath training before your workout. Take 5-10 minutes to sit, relax and focus on your breathing. This primes your body for exercise.
- Start paying attention to your breathing during normal daily activities. The more you focus on it, the more natural it will feel during exercise. Developing good breathing habits and technique takes practice and consistency.
With regular practice of proper breathing technique, you'll notice big improvements in your endurance, performance and recovery. Make the effort to breathe well and you'll reap the benefits!
So there you have it, the basics of how to breathe properly during exercise. We know it can seem like an afterthought when you're focused on your workout, but trust us, mastering your breathing technique is worth the effort. Not only will you gain endurance and push through plateaus, but you'll experience an overall sense of wellbeing from the increased oxygen flow. Make it a habit to check in on your breathing during exercise and soon it will become second nature. Your body and mind will thank you, and you'll be reaping the rewards of improved health and fitness in no time. So take a deep breath and get to it! Proper breathing is the foundation for an effective workout.
Want to learn more about fitness, nutrition and overall health? Join us now at Team Dynasty!