The Art of Breathing (Part02)!

Shanu Shashank
Shanu Shashank

 | 1 minute to read
Exercise Science

Now that we all understand the importance of the right way of practicing the breathing process and also how it is being used in various fields like Yoga and Meditation, let us talk about Weight Lifting. It’s the same old practice that one needs to implement while lifting weights (If you are reading this part for the first time, request you to read part 01 first).

* Taking in air during the eccentric contraction (when the muscles lengthen themselves), while exhaling during the concentric contraction (when muscles shorten). Ex:- Breathing in while squatting down and exhaling when coming up. * A concentric contraction leads to shortening of muscles while eccentric contraction causes lengthening of it in response to a greater opposing force. So, considering the difficulty of the movement when you are coming up with weights, it is justified enough that one should exhale during this phase, while inhaling when going down. Now, relate this to the earlier point (part 01) wherein we mentioned how glucose combined with oxygen provided ATP (replenishing the muscles with oxygen) Ex:- During a bicep curl, you breathe in while lifting the weights up, towards yourself, whereas breathing out while going down. * While this has been widely accepted by individuals all across the world, yet there is a more advanced way to it, termed as valsalva maneuver. What is this valsalva technique? * It is the process wherein you forcibly breathe out against a closed windpipe, while keeping the glottis closed. * This helps trapping air inside the lungs, thus creating a pressure inside our abdomens, known as intra abdominal pressure. * The process demands you to take a deep belly breath (just an analogy, not literally expanding the belly), such that you close your glottis and exhale against it, which perhaps helps in stabilizing our torso against heavy loads. Eg- Creating the pressure tight before you squat down, and breathe out only when you have come up after completing a repetition, repeat. * The pressure filled in abdominal and thoracic cavities help create an insulation and therefore helps reduce the load on the lumbar and thoracic spine, which also helps prevent our central nervous system from injuries. * So, here’s an analogy for this - try relating this to those lorries carrying heavy loads on the highways, they are able to do it for the fact that the tyres have air filled inside them. Hence, better your breathing in this process, better will be the tightness of your core, and thus smoother and safer will be your lift. * Another analogy that I came across and would like to cite here is the one of soda cans. Imagine your body being a large cylindrical can. When the can is empty, it’s easy to bend since there is hardly any air inside. While it’s hard to bend it when there is air inside the can (there is air inside the lungs). When to efficiently incorporate it in training? * For the beginners, it would be practically tough to follow this process alongside learning the basic movements and exercises, initially. Going with the traditional process - inhale during eccentric contraction and exhale while concentric could be a good approach to start with. * Learning to apply the concept of valsalva could be really helpful when you are trying to lift more than 60-70 % of your max, especially in unsupported compound lifts, such as squats, dead lifts, bench press, when the chances of injuries could be high, if the basic cues are not taken care of. The increase in abdominal pressure helps maintain rigidity and thus prevents the central nervous system from injuries. This also helps get you those extra pounds on the bar. * Practicing the valsalva technique during isolation exercises like bicep curls or assisted machine exercises like lat pull down could be tough, when you are trying to pull in more number of repetitions. Sticking to the former technique could be good here, while one can try improvising upon valsalva with practice and time. Keep breathing! References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573542/ https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-breathe-when-lifting-weights/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23222073 https://legionathletics.com/valsalva-maneuver/

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