Breathing - You're Doing It Wrong

You’ve been breathing wrong your whole life. It’s negatively affecting not just your lifting, but your overall quality of life. Things such as stress and bad habits have ultimately contributed to this chest breathing we are all guilty of. Shallow, short, sips of air is what the majority of you are doing, right this very second, as you read this article. Place your hand on your chest and take a deep breath.

I’m confident enough to say that 75% of you who just did this observed that your hand on your chest moved. We will come back to this exercise towards the end of this article.

It’s a shame how little breathing is addressed in the world of fitness. Every exercise and compound lift you do is benefitted by the ability to properly breathe. What do I mean by “properly breathing”? I mean diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. You want to imagine taking in air and filling your stomach from the bottom up.

As you take in your air, imagine yourself filling a giant balloon within your stomach. Imagine the air filling your stomach starting at your pelvic floor and filling upward and outward. As you take in air you want to feel as if you are filling all 360 degrees of your stomach. This means that you will physically see the protrusion of your stomach. Attractive? Nope. Providing a solid base for safe lifting? You bet your ass it is. Safe lifting is never attractive, fact. But neither is being injured.

As someone who has struggled with lower back issues, the concept of diaphragmatic breathing was a game changer. All this time I thought I was properly bracing… which I was, but none of it meant anything being performed on the foundation of breathing improperly. A brace around a good belly breath will ensure good stability and safer lifting technique.

Now place your hand on your chest again and take in a good belly breath. Be cognisant of keeping your chest motionless as you fill your stomach from the bottom up. You may struggle at first to keep your chest still, it’s a habit you have been doing most of your life, it will take time. But continue to do this exercise over and over again. Sitting at your desk at work, waiting in line at the bank, and before every exercise and lift you do in the gym. I guarantee after a month of doing this you will notice a difference in how your body feels after a good squat session or a solid chest day.

Next step… BRACING!