We get asked frequently about when and how to breathe during a lift so here is the answer!
- Inhale and Brace: First inhale a large breath into your stomach (make sure it fills your stomach not your chest). Create tension in your torso which increases into-abdominal pressure (IAP), which is the pressure rating within the abdominal cavity. Higher IAP gives you more stability and a stiffer spine. When you brace you create tension in your torso and increase IAP. Imagine someone is going to hit you as hard as possible in the stomach, your natural response would be to brace. Always brace before starting a rep.
- Hold Breath: Hold your breath during the entire lift to maintain tension and stability. This will keep the load off the spine, keeping it in a neutral position which will allow you to exert maximum force. Imagine you are going under water when you begin to squat, you can not breathe again until you are at the top (head above the water).
- Exhale and Rest: Exhale at the top of the rep and then start from the beginning again.
We then also get asked the following:
Should you hold your breath on the way up too? Valsalva maneauver is when you hold your breath during a squat. This causes the inhale and brace technique to be amplified which increases the IAP. Holding your breath yields the best results which is why powerlifters do this.
However, during the valsalva maneauver your blood pressure can be increased dramatically so it is advised that if you have high blood pressure or heart problems you should avoid doing this. Instead you will exhale on the way up or near the top.
Why is bracing so important? If you have ever tried jumping off of sand you know that you can’t get very high because the platform you are jumping from is unstable. It is the same thing with lifting. When your body is tight and under tension you will have no energy leaks so you will be able to exert maximum force and use your muscles to their fullest potential!!