Fitness Tip of the Week #15 Make sure to Breathe!

Proper breathing techniques are often overlooked when it comes to lifting weights. Most people never think about their breathing when they are lifting weights; it usually never crosses their mind. For the most part, it doesn’t seem to be a big factor. Yet, using the right breathing patterns as you lift will have a big effect on how the lift will affect your body.

IMG_0977There are two parts to a repetition: the eccentric and concentric contractions. During the concentric contraction, the primary muscle fibers involved in the lift shorten. So, if you were doing a dumbbell bench press, the concentric contraction would occur when you are pressing the weight up, moving it against the force of gravity. The eccentric contraction occurs as you bring the weight back to its starting position. A general rule to help you understand which is which is the concentric contraction generally occurs when the weight, or your own body weight, is moving against the force of gravity.

So what does breathing have to do with lifting weights? Well, remember that your entire body, not just the muscle you are primarily working, is involved in stabilizing the joints and holding them in their proper anatomical alignment as you lift in order to perform the move correctly and with the most power. So, a great rule to use when lifting is to exhale when you exert. That is, during the concentric contracting, you should be breathing out. This will ensure that your core muscles are being engaged as you exert the most force during the move. Inhale when you are returning the weight to its starting position.

Never hold your breath when performing heavy lifts. In some cases, people have actually passed out when holding their breath while trying to lift near their max. In general, it’s just not a good idea. Also, remember to perform lifts slowly and under control. Follow this link to learn more about our philosophy on strength training.

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