Today we’re going to talk about intentionally altering your breathing pattern during exercise as a self-exploration tool.
What’s very common in the exercise world is to be taught that there is a stereotypical way to breathe during a given exercise. And in many cases that stereotypical pattern is very useful. It usually allows you to create the most force and that’s fantastic for when you are living and working in a controlled environment.
The issue is that in the real world we may need to move, exert force or create tension, regardless of the phase of respiration that we’re in. So most of us have been taught, “Hey, when you’re really trying to push something hard, let’s say you’re doing a bench press, you’re doing a push-up and you’re struggling, do a hard exhale.” Usually, that will help you create more force. Fantastic, but maybe again, in the real world you’re out walking your dog, and all of a sudden, your dog sees a rabbit and takes off, and you’re in the middle of an inhale and you weren’t able to brace. And now all of a sudden, your body is getting jerked and moved in a way that it was unprepared for and as a result, injury occurs. So one way that we combat that is to remind people that our job is to map for possibilities, right? Create brain maps for possible outcomes in the real world.So the way that we do this in breathing is very simple.
Four different characteristic breathing patterns that you want to apply in any given exercise. Now, when we do this, please make sure that you’re using an exercise that is relatively lightly loaded. I’m not saying do this for a max deadlift, a max squat, or anything like that. You want to explore breathing patterns in something that you have a lot of control over. So I’m just going to demonstrate this using a squat. I’ll just do a half squat so I can discuss it. So, exercise number one is just doing the basic bodyweight, low-load exercise with a breath-hold. All right, so I’m going to take a breath in, hold my breath. Go through my squat, get an idea of how that feels. Should be very, very simple. That was a full breath in breath-hold movement. So now, I want to do a breath-hold on a full exhale. So breathe in. Blow out. Hold and go through your squat again.
In neither case was I intentionally creating pressure. I was just holding my breath, either on a deep inhale or a full exhale. So number three, we’re now going to do a pressurized breath-hold. So now I’m going to breathe in and I’m going to bear down creating midline pressure, abdominal pressure, go through the squat again. All right, so that would be kind of called a Valsalva Maneuver. That’s not really highly recommended for a lot of people because it can make them dizzy, but many people hold their breath when they are caught by surprise, so, it’s something that you want to safely explore. From there we then want to go through both an inhale and exhale during different portions of the movement. So now I’m going to inhale as I descend, exhale as a ascend. No big deal. Inhales as I go down, exhale as I come up. I then want to invert that. So I’m going to take a breath in, exhale on the way down, inhale on the way up. All very simple.