Breathing correctly is crucial to health and performance. If you know anything about training, you’ll know that you should never hold your breath while lifting. The correct way to breathe during weight training is to exhale while pushing the weight away from your body and inhale while pulling it towards your body. You should always exhale when you are exerting energy. Poor breathing can lead your body to compensate by recruiting the traps, pec minor, scapula, and neck muscles to do more work, risking injury and fatigue. It also impairs your ability to recover because your nervous system will remain activated, meaning the accessory muscles will continue to work. To help support your breathing and cognition, our Mind Matrix blend is crafted to help support oxygen and circulation in the brain, brain cells and neurons. Make each breath count with these techniques to fix four of the most common breathing mistakes during a workout:
If you breathe from your chest or belly, but not with your full diaphragm
If you squeeze a semi-full water bottle around its middle, the center will collapse. Chest breathing has a similar effect, making you lose core stability. Your body might try to recreate that stability elsewhere, like in the hip flexors, psoas, traps, or pec minor, overworking them and leading to tightness. If you’re only breathing with your belly, you’re not taking full advantage of your lung capacity, something that declines over time—and at a faster rate if you don’t use it. To fix this, practice proper breathing form, which involves using your diaphragm, obliques, transverse abdominals, and ribs. When done correctly, your abs should expand in the front, side, and back on the inhale and contract on the exhale. In other words, it shouldn’t just be your belly expanding in the front. Wrap a band or yoga strap around your midsection and breathe into it to get tactile feedback.
If you ignore your breath when you lift
In addition to limiting your performance, moving heavier loads without tapping into diaphragmatic breath leaves the spine more susceptible to injuries like a disc bulge or herniation. To fix this, inhale before you initiate a lift, then hold your breath to create pressure and stability in your core. Halfway through the lift, part your lips, keeping teeth together, and slowly exhale so your breath makes a hissing sound. This activates the entire core and makes every lift safer and stronger.
If you breathe deeply through your mouth to recover from high-intensity exercise
Breathing through your mouth actually hinders recovery by triggering a sympathetic (or stress) response in the body. To fix this, between treadmill sprints or HIIT intervals, take slow, deep breaths through your nose, which is better at shifting your body into parasympathetic or rest-and-digest mode. This could have to do with the warming effect that nose breathing has on air, since the lungs prefer warm air.
If you catch your breath by interlacing your hands behind your head
Recovering from high-intensity work in this way activates a fight-or-flight response. It also opens your rib cage and compromises the diaphragm, making breathing more of a challenge. To fix this, if you need to catch your breath, bend down and place your hands on your knees. This better allows your diaphragm to move air, leading to faster recovery.