T Nation

Breathing During Weightlifting

I know that whenver you do a given resistance exercise, that inhaling during the eccentric phase and exhaling during the concentric phase is a common misconception and that it’s better to just let the breathing happen naturally while making sure not to hold your breath. However, what I am not clear on is if you are ever supposed to breathe through your nose when doing a resistance exercise. If so, then when?

Also, is it okay to ever exhale during the eccentric phase and/or inhale during the concentric phase, because a lot of times I do that when I let my breathing happen more naturally and comfortably whenever I do any weightlifting exercise?

On heavy lifts that require spinal stability I take a deep breath, tighten my abdominals, then do both the eccentric and concentric portions before taking another breath. This builds thoracic pressure which assists muscles supporting the spine.

On lighter lifts that don’t require as much spinal stability I usually inhale during the eccentric, hold my breath during the concentric and let the breath out at the top.

Where the air comes out (nose/mouth) doesn’t matter. Just do whatever feels natural.

For heavy lifts like squats and deads, I know holding my breath helps keep my core tight the whole time. On warm up sets, I do tend to revert to the first breathing technique you mentioned, mainly because I learned to breath that way in a high school lifting class. Doesn’t matter too much during the warm up sets though.

Getting your breathing right is important on main lifts.
On isolation lifts not so much but still it’s good to develop good habits.

When going for a main lift the breathing is actually part of the set up. You need to get it right every single time. It becomes part of the lift.

If I walk up to a heavy deadlift I want to make sure my core is going to stay as tight as possible. How does this happen? Well once I have made a good position on the bar and have pushed my chest out as far as possible I am going to breath in a huge amount of air into my belly and hold it. I am going to squeeze my abs at the same time and this will maintain a strong core position.
When wearing a belt you actually push your abs into the belt. That is the purpose of the belt. You hold your air in until the top of the lift. This creates tension through the body and a solid core. It’s also the safest way you can lift.

I used deadlift as an example but this is the same for a squat or a bench press. Actually on bench press some lifters will hold their air in for a few reps. I don’t advise this for new lifters but just giving you an example of how holding in air can help build a solid core.

As far as whether it’s your nose or your mouth that is totally irrelevant and not worth worrying about.
In my opinion new lifters worry too much about breathing on isolation exercises when really your body will do it naturally.

If you went to pick up a washing machine you aren’t going to be thinking, how do I breathe for this. You’re going to be thinking, I hope I don’t break my freaking back. You will naturally suck in a huge amount of air and you will hold it until you get it up.

I find myself holding my breath for 2-3 reps on certain compound movements , seems especially important with squatting , that air in there makes you feel quite a bit more solid.

Valsalva FTW.

I agree with the notion that you’ve, presumably, been breathing well-enough on your own for several years without specific instructions. Let your body do what’s most effective… and eventually you’re more than likely going to see that strategic breath-holding (the Valsalva maneuver) is just that.

Honestly, the valsalva maneuver makes me feel like I’m going to pop something when I squat.

Can’t imagine the amount of pressure you’d be dealing with when you’re squatting over 300lb.

[quote]magick wrote:
Honestly, the valsalva maneuver makes me feel like I’m going to pop something when I squat.

Can’t imagine the amount of pressure you’d be dealing with when you’re squatting over 300lb.[/quote]

That’s the point, keeps you tight as hell, your core isn’t going to give out on you. That’s especially important when you get to heavy weights.

OP is probably totally confused by now.

To make it easy when you are gong for a squat, deadlift, bench press or overhead press suck in a huge amount of air and hold it. Lower weight then press up forcefully , exhale then go again.

With isolation exercises its exactly the same except you can exhale at the top of the lift. Doing this is beneficial as you can continue lifting without a pause.

[quote]magick wrote:
Honestly, the valsalva maneuver makes me feel like I’m going to pop something when I squat.

.[/quote]

YOu need to clench that sphincter

[quote]Bull_Scientist wrote:
I know that whenver you do a given resistance exercise, that inhaling during the eccentric phase and exhaling during the concentric phase is a common misconception and that it’s better to just let the breathing happen naturally while making sure not to hold your breath…is it okay to ever exhale during the eccentric phase and/or inhale during the concentric phase, because a lot of times I do that when I let my breathing happen more naturally and comfortably whenever I do any weightlifting exercise?[/quote]