Inhale, exhale… it should be that simple right? However, breathing during a workout can be quite difficult. When your heart rate increases, your breathing rate tends to speed up too. This is completely normal. But learning how to control your breathing can make your workouts much more effective.
The good news is, it is 100% possible to slow down your breathing. The bad news is, it can be uncomfortable. During an intense workout, your heart will start to race and that is something you cannot change. You may also feel like you can’t breathe or you are hyperventilating, this is something you can change!
Breathing is can actually be a voluntary action. You can tell yourself to hold your breath and you will. You can’t tell your heart to stop beating. It is actually very interesting, because your body will continue breathing without you necessarily thinking about it. But if you choose think about, you can change the way you breathe. This is a good thing when it comes to exercise!
First let’s talk about what you type of breathing to avoid during your workouts.
If you are a mouth breather, you inhale and exhale through your mouth while keeping you your mouth open wide the whole time. This is what you see may see dogs do when they are panting. This is not an effective way to breathe. You aren’t getting enough oxygen in and the oxygen you do let in can easily escape your mouth because it is wide open.
This is what causes you to feel like you are hyperventilating during your workout. Uneven, short, quick breaths also do not allow you to get enough oxygen in. Your body is under stress during a workout, but don’t let your breathing become panicked.
So how should you breathe? Breathing techniques vary for everyone, but these are the techniques I see work best for a majority of people.
Every runner has their preferred way of breathing, but if you are new to running, try this. Inhale for 3 steps and exhale for 3 steps. Inhale on the left, right, left foot strikes. And exhale on the right, left, right foot strikes. You may find you need to speed this up to 3-2 or 2-2 depending on your pace. But trying to connect your breathing to your feet will help you feel more controlled. This will help with endurance.
You always want to exhale on exertion or the difficult part of your lift. For most exercises this is the up motion. A squat is the perfect example. You want to inhale before you lower down, trying to fill your stomach up with air, and then exhale as you push up from the bottom of the movement. For a bicep curl, you will exhale when you curl the weight up and inhale when you release the weight down. If you have ever watched a tennis match before, you have probably wondered why those people scream when they hit the ball. This is simply their way of exhaling. A strong exhale can allow you to push more weight and feel stronger in your lifts. Inhale down, exhale up.