How to Breathe For Better Lifting:
By: Kyle Deneke
I often see people carefully setting up for big lifts. They take care to make sure their hand placement is perfect. They set their feet right where they want them. Finally, they make the last ever so important mental preparations. Then they lift. Some succeed and some fail, that’s lifting. However, in the above scenario, a key step was overlooked. The missing piece is proper breath control.
Knowing how to breathe while lifting heavy loads is critical. Often times, poor breathing technique can cause you to miss a lift. In order to understand how to correctly breathe, you really need to understand why it matters. When you think about weightlifting it is important to realize how your body is supporting the load. In most cases, you need your chest and abdomen to be highly pressurized to create an adequate support structure. When you breathe correctly, you are filling your abdomen and creating a broad, solid brace for the load you are lifting. The pressurized abdomen is also important as it creates force against the spine from within. This pressurization helps improve posture and eliminates unwanted spinal flexion. A failure to solidify your trunk will result in a poor lift. You will likely sag and collapse under the load. When you fail to breathe correctly, you are creating an environment where you are more likely to become injured.
To improve your lifting follow these simple steps to ensure that you are using your breathing to your advantage.
1. Expand the abdomen by taking a full breath.
2. Tighten the abs and other muscles around the torso but don’t squeeze them in.
3. Close off the glottis so no air can escape. This is known as the Valsalva maneuver. (this will likely occur naturally when taking and holding a full breath)
4. Release very small amounts of air as needed while working through the more challenging portion of the lift.
5. If you become dizzy or light headed, ditch the lift and breathe naturally to recover.
1. Everett, G. Olympic Weightlifting…, 2nd edition. 2012
2. Rippetoe, M. Starting Strength… 3rd edition. 2011
Compare to 11-28-2014
Skill: 4 Wall Walks
Mobility: 3 drills from the Squat Chart
2 minutes couch stretch.