Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just don't hold your breath. Breathing and Weight Training

This issue can be a source of confusion for many exercise enthusiasts. What's the right way to breath during your lifting routine? In or out on the lift? What about holding your breath? Deep or shallow? This information should be a breath of fresh air.

Breathing dysfunction is a very common cause to muscular and postural dysfunction. It often results from breathing due to high stress and anxiety. When the breathing pattern becomes more shallow, the secondary respiratory muscles are used more predominantly than the diaphragm. This upper-chest, shallow breathing pattern causes overuse of the neck and shoulder muscles. These muscles play major roles in posture. Their increased activity and excessive tension often result in headaches and dizziness. This alters the pain cycle by increasing pain receptors in the brain. The inadequate oxygen consumption and retention of metabolic waste within muscles can create fatigued stiff muscles. This can also decrease joint motion of the spine and rib cage. Needless to say, shallow upper-chest breathing can cause a whole mess of problems.

When it comes to breathing techniques in your exercises, just don't hold your breath. When you hold your breath in your routine, it causes your blood pressure to rise, which can be fatal. So if you forget everything about breathing in your lift, just remember to breath. Period.

The standard in weight training is to breath out on exertion. It activates the core and helps to produce more power. There are a few different exceptions to this rule, however. When moving weight toward the body upon exertion, it doesn't fit the body's natural movement patterns.

Here's a guide to help you sort it all out:
  • Lower body exertion: Breath out
  • Upper body push: Breath out
  • Upper body pull: Breath in
  • Functional training and light lifting: Breath naturally

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