Can Proper Breathing Help You Lose Weight?
There are a few different opinions when it comes to how you should breathe when doing resistance training. I’ll talk about the pros and cons of both and how I breathe.
There’s some out there that say you should hold your breath for periods of time during the set, or perhaps even during the entire set.
This is incredibly dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible. When you hold your breath during resistance training, you increase the pressure in your abdominal cavity and your blood pressure rises. It’s very possible it can rise to dangerous levels.
A study about the rising of blood pressure using the Valsalva maneuver (holding your breath)was published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in 1995. They found that blood pressure can get nearly three times as high as normal when holding your breath during resistance training.
This can cause fainting and nosebleeds. But more serious things can also happen. These include: retina detachment, eye hemorrhaging (you can go blind!) and stroke.
Then, there are some who say you should exhale as you exert the force in the movement. For example, during a bench press you would exhale as you move the barbell/dumbbells up, and inhale on the way down.
This method works because it is easy to remember and prevents the individual from holding their breath.
Having said that, there are still potential problems. This method will work during the first few sets of exercises, but as you get more fatigued deeper in your workout, it will become difficult for you to breath in sync with your lifts. You might notice that you’re out of air a lot faster. This can be a problem because you want each repetition to be nice and controlled, which usually means a slower motion — you might end up with short, choppy repetitions because you don’t have enough air.
So what are you supposed to do?
Just try and breathe naturally!
Decide what pace you are going to be doing the movement (i.e. 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down for bench press is an option), don’t worry about breathing in sync, but don’t hold your breath either.
Unfortunately, I still find myself holding my breath at times, particularly at the very end of heavy sets when I am fatigued. You might notice this too, the best thing you can do is just become conscious of it and work to prevent it. I’ll admit, it’s very hard not to hold your breath sometimes because you’re so focused on finishing the movement, but it’s important to work on it. It just takes time.
Always remember two things: Don’t hold your breath, and don’t hyperventilate!