We are all able to breathe, yet we do not always do it properly. Breathing is a natural physiological function, which allows us to obtain the oxygen necessary for our body. When practicing a sport, you need to be able to breathe properly to improve sports performance and achieve maximum results in terms of physical well-being.
Correct breathing is diaphragmatic breathing, which children know well, but which adults sometimes tend to forget. Breathing at chest level, you make a superficial breathing, which brings less oxygen to the body. The consequence is the feeling of needing to breathe earlier than necessary.
Correct breathing is therefore essential during training, when the metabolism increases and, consequently, the energy consumption.
In this article we will show you three breathing techniques, which may be useful during physical activity.
For Each Type of Training its Breathing Technique
The respiratory system is linked to the cardiovascular system. As soon as we train, the frequency of both increases. The breath becomes deeper when the training becomes more intense. That’s why we feel the need to breathe with our mouths too: the body needs more oxygen and must at the same time expel carbon dioxide. However, this way of oxygenating the body does not necessarily have to be correct. On the contrary, sometimes it can lead to greater fatigue.
There are, in fact, precise breathing techniques to improve performance. Here are a few:
- Pre-workout breathing techniques. Prepare your breath before starting your exercise session. Take five deep breaths, inhale through your nose, swell your stomach and diaphragm, slowly exhale through your mouth. In this way your body will be prepared for the training and you will feel more relaxed at the same time.
- Breathing techniques for weight training. You will have to breathe with both the diaphragm and the chest. This way you’ll get more air and keep the lower part of your abdomen taut, making it join the pelvic floor and protect your spine. Exhale through your mouth during the loading phase, when you are more tired, and inhale through your nose during the unloading phase and the weight returns to its initial position. This type of breathing serves to ensure proper ventilation at the time of effort and also helps to stay focused when performing the exercises. Holding your breath when doing an exercise runs the risk of increasing blood pressure and decreasing the oxygenation of muscle tissues, which are thus more fatigued. For some types of exercise, however, an exception must be made. These are those that mainly involve the spinal column, such as sinking, squatting, taking off with barbells or weights. In the first phase of these exercises you can hold your breath because the momentary apnea helps to coordinate movements, to contract the abdominals and to protect the spine from injury.
- Breathing techniques for free body exercises. In the case of abdominal exercises, the correct breathing is diaphragmatic: inhale slowly and fill the belly and lower ribs and then the chest with air, then exhale while contracting the abdominal muscles. If you train the upper part (arms, shoulders, chest) inhale when the arms bend to the ground and exhale when they return to the starting position. If you train the lower part (sink, squat), inhale slowly when the legs bend and exhale when they return to the starting position.
Breathing techniques are also useful in cardio and stretching exercises: breathing correctly is also important when the muscles are stretched. Stretching relaxes the muscles you have contracted during training and eliminates accumulated toxins. The exhalation phase is therefore essential and in order to stretch your muscles well you must make sure that they last as long as possible. This also slows down the heart rate and relaxes the muscles. You will need to breathe in when you prepare to take up the position and exhale when you stretch your muscles.
In addition, proper breathing is important to maintain the correct posture during training; deep exhalation in the exertion phase, in fact, helps to contract the muscles optimally, allowing for greater stability and reducing the risk of injury.