I hate using the word “Natural” because it is always somehow
misused to propagate a myth. But here you have it… Me saying “Breathe
naturally”!!!! (Sick). Here follows the explanation:
Without thinking about breathing, no one, who has to lift a
lot of weight or push or pull something with max effort will ever inhale during
Beginner or advanced… you instinctively hold you’re breathing
(valsalva) when engaging in a maximal effort in any activity in day to day
Things contrary to the above always happen when some
individual consciously decides to breathe correctly…. As would happen when a person
picks up a load for an exercise rather than just to do an almost maximal load
task in day to day life…
Such as lifting a huge rock that is blocking the road you
are driving on & moving it to the side. Imagine yourselves doing it &
you will see how you inhale sharply before actually lifting the rock off the road
& then as you move with the rock in your hands to the side you will have
automatically withheld your breath until you throw the rock to the side of the
road. Did you just do the Valsalva?
The reason behind this kind of breathing pattern has more to
do with the physicality of the lift than anything physiological.
When under load you want your entire torso, especially the Thoracic-Lumbar
area to be inflated with air to build up Intra-Thoracic & Intra-Abdominal
pressure…. This makes your torso into a RIGID structure…
During sub maximal loads that would give you more than 10
reps, the breathing can be continuous without the Valsalva hold.
In exercises that start off with the eccentric like the
Squats &Bench Presses, you will inhale on the way down building more
rigidity into your structure as you lower the weight…
We require the highest amount of rigidity at the bottom of
the squat or bench press when our limbs are in full flexion….
Then as we start the concentric the air is let out
forcefully throughout the movement as we straighten up to full extension. Here
the air is let out in proportion to the amount of straightening as we require
less & less packed air to provide rigidity as we move to full extension.
In exercises starting off with the concentric like the
deadlift & all other pulling movements like the rows & chins, we should
inhale fully before commencing to lift & then follow the same pattern as
Once you start doing the 5 reps and lower, the load will
demand a packed torso with full on Intra Thoracic & Intra-Abdominal pressure
all throughout the movement hence the Valsalva automatically becoming activated
if you allow it to. Do not on purpose change the breathing pattern to
continuous, just because some idiot trainer told you to do. If you managed to
lift the weight without the Valsalva, then be rest assured that what you think
is a 5 rep max weight is NOT a 5 rep max weight. Less than 4 rep maxes are
impossible without the Valsalva… It will happen… JUSTDON’T THINK ABOUT IT!
With maximal loads in a squat for example… if you were to
start exhaling immediately after the concentric commences, you will lose vital
rigidity in the torso and collapse like a pack of cards… Again if you start the
lowering in a squat with a max load without fully tanking up, (As you were
going to finish your inhalation at the bottom of the eccentric) the torso will
not have the rigidity to maintain a neutral spine as you lower yourself &
start to flex at the hip with a hip hinge.
Squat Under Maximal
Loads (Exercise Starting with Eccentric)
Breathe in completely & sharply (Should be loud &
At the culmination of the inhalation start the eccentric
Hold the breath through the eccentric and at least till
3/4th of the concentric.
Forcefully & audibly breathe out through the mouth
(Larger orifice) while locking out to full extension.
Punctuate the repetition there. This will give you time to
finish the exhalation & then immediately inhale forcefully through the nose.
Once fully packed with air… again start the descent & hold the air in
throughout the rep.
Maximal Loads (Exercise starting with Concentric)
Breathe in forcefully through the nose sharply &
audibly, pack in as much air as possible & commence the concentric upwards as
soon as you can take in no more air…
Keep the Valsalva lock in through the concentric and at least
till 3/4th of the eccentric lowering is done.
Once you de-load breathe out through the mouth completely &
immediately commence the deep, forceful & sharp inhalation& commence
the concentric upon full culmination of that inhalation.
So basically you breathe out completely & then breathe
incompletely IN BETWEEN reps & hold your breath throughout both the phases
of the lift…
Reasoning for why you should or why one under heavy loads instinctively
breathes the way I have enumerated is plain & simple– THE NEED FOR A RIGID
An INFLATED Torso is RIGID
A DEFLATED Torso is FLACCID
An unblocked nasal cavity is a prerequisite to good strength
and performance. That’s why my kit always has a nasal decongestant such as
nasal spray… If I feel inhaling through the nose is slightly compromised while
getting ready for a workout… I simply use the decongestant.
Many lifters believe again that abdominal breathing or what
is referred to as Diaphragmatic Breathing has to be learnt to lift effectively.
There is NO doubt that abdominal breathing is the correct way of breathing. But
the human body never needed to be taught the correct way of breathing. If you
want to find out what comes instinctively to humans, observe babies/infants.
THEYALWAYS NATURALLY ENGAGE IN BELLY BREATHING.
Somewhere down the line we become conscious of our gut
protrusions & start holding it in changing our breathing pattern to an
unnatural Thoracic breathing. Thus we condition ourselves to go against how
nature intended us to breathe.
To lift heavy maximal loads, when we take a deep
inhalation, the lungs WILL expand; the Diaphragm WILL lower itself to
accommodate the lungs & the belly WILL PUSH OUT