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Breathing on AMRAP Sets


#1

I'm currently using the Greyskull LP rep scheme for my squat and deadlift. For this program, on the working weight you go 5, 5, AMRAP - anything 5 or over and you move up to the next weight. I often find myself ending the AMRAP set because of getting out of breath, rather than reaching muscular failure. For example, today I got 7 reps of squat, but had another 2 or 3 reps in my legs.

What does everyone think about taking a few breaths between reps in this situation?


#2

I have always squatted with breaths in between reps. I exhale forcefully just as I am finishing the rep, inhale forcefully, get tight and squat again. Maybe a one second pause at the top to do this. My best sets with this are 385x5 and 405x4. So far, so good, although staying tight (and working on getting tighter) is always a concern. I have never tried holding my breath on multiple squats. I would be worried about fainting with a barbell on my back.

On deadlifts I always hold my breath for the whole set if doing touch-and-go. The most I’ve managed with this technique is 475x5 and I was seeing stars. Obviously the safety risks are minimal here, as a dropped bar won’t do much besides startle the people around you. Dead-stop DL reps I will always reset my breath on each rep.

I think you should try getting some air on your AMRAP squat sets with a lighter weight and see how it feels.

I’m curious to hear other lifters’ thoughts on this.


#3

I guess I should clarify. I do take ONE breath between squats, but I still get winded after 7 or 8. I was wondering about gulping down 2-4 breaths towards the end of an AMRAP.


#4

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:
I guess I should clarify. I do take ONE breath between squats, but I still get winded after 7 or 8. I was wondering about gulping down 2-4 breaths towards the end of an AMRAP.[/quote]
Personally I think taking as many breaths as necessary to hit muscular failure (with the bar on your back) is fine with a Greyskull AMRAP set.


#5

I think you will be fine as long as you can stay tight and maintain form. I’ve done that on my adventures in higher-rep squatting and I did not feel like it was a risky rep. I’d get my air, get tight and then squat again. Maybe as much as 5 seconds in between reps.

I believe getting one more rep when you breathing like a locomotive and pouring sweat is an outstanding character-building activity.

When in doubt, just rack the bar and squat again another day!


#6

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:
I guess I should clarify. I do take ONE breath between squats, but I still get winded after 7 or 8. I was wondering about gulping down 2-4 breaths towards the end of an AMRAP.[/quote]
Personally I think taking as many breaths as necessary to hit muscular failure (with the bar on your back) is fine with a Greyskull AMRAP set.[/quote]

This is exactly what I’d do. The purpose of the sets is to go to muscular failure, not to test your lungs.


#7

This all makes sense. I definitely see the point about needing to stay tight when breathing.


#8

Your avatar is awesome btw. Camille is my new go-to when girls tell me they can’t lift weights because they don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.


#9

I love Camille’s physique. If I get 1/2 as built as her, I’ll be a happy woman!


#10

I think her picture should be put up in every gym over the treadmill area. It should be next to a picture of Paula Radcliff with a big sign underneath saying “which would you rather look like?”


#11

to echo pretty much everybody else, “breathing squats” or whatever people call them are fine for an AMRAP set. In the +sets of 5/3/1 i NEED to take a couple of breaths to grind out that last 1 or 2 before calling it a day. Its fine to take one deep breath and knock out a couple of reps, but when the weight gets heavy most people have to pause at the top and take a couple breaths if they really want to push to muscle failure.


#12

I actually go the opposite of most, and hold my breath for as long as possible when performing a heavy set for as many reps as possible. I find that when I breathe out, I lose a lot of tightness, and in turn reps. It’s pretty much a race for as many reps as possible in one breath, take a breath, and then get maybe 2-4 more reps after that.

The trick is to not pass out. I usually wait until I start seeing stars, and then I’ll do one more rep and take a breath.


#13

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I actually go the opposite of most, and hold my breath for as long as possible when performing a heavy set for as many reps as possible. I find that when I breathe out, I lose a lot of tightness, and in turn reps. It’s pretty much a race for as many reps as possible in one breath, take a breath, and then get maybe 2-4 more reps after that.

The trick is to not pass out. I usually wait until I start seeing stars, and then I’ll do one more rep and take a breath.[/quote]

I was beginning to think that I was the only one that did this. My upper back starts to slump with each breath if they weight is heavy.


#14

There is absolutely no downside to pausing and taking as many breaths as you need if that will help you get more reps in. I would actually argue that it is an implied part of AMRAP. If you rack the bar without a few rep/pauses at the end, you weren’t very close to “as many reps as possible.”


#15

[quote]Mad Martigan wrote:
There is absolutely no downside to pausing and taking as many breaths as you need if that will help you get more reps in. I would actually argue that it is an implied part of AMRAP. If you rack the bar without a few rep/pauses at the end, you weren’t very close to “as many reps as possible.”

[/quote]

I think absolute statements such as this are bad advice to give on a beginner forum.

Going balls-out may work fine for you, but there are too many variables in play to say it is a universal good idea for everyone.

This 30-something lifter has been well-served by staying a little conservative on squats. Standing there sucking wind saps my tightness, my focus and my confidence in the next rep. Heavy-ass weight on my back is no joke, and I respect its potential for traumatic injury.

My $0.02.


#16

Beginners shouldn’t be doing AMRAP =P

At least, until they learn what they can handle. Besides, it is generally implicit in AMRAP that you keep going until you literally only have a rep or two left in the tank.

Most people stop way before that.


#17

[quote]magick wrote:
Beginners shouldn’t be doing AMRAP =P

At least, until they learn what they can handle. Besides, it is generally implicit in AMRAP that you keep going until you literally only have a rep or two left in the tank.

Most people stop way before that.[/quote]

Doing some AMRAP curls? Knock yourself out. Almost a no-brainer. I think this concept takes on a somewhat different and highly subjective meaning on a movement like the squat.

As Many Reps As Possible before…

…what, exactly?

Your form deteriorates?
You fail a rep?
You are pretty sure you can only do one more?
You pass out?
You feel like you should stop?
You get injured?

Additionally, the relative weight factors in here. On a light weight/high rep set I may feel fine sucking gas for 5 or 6 seconds before going back into the hole. On a heavier set that bar will get racked unless I am totally sure I can get it, and once I get out of my rhythm that certainty evaporates rather quickly.

As you already stated, the AMRAP “sweet spot” is not something that a beginner is likely to have a good feel for without the awareness that comes with time under the bar spent pushing your limits.

And this lifter would recommend a conservative approach to finding those limits.


#18

I’m a beginner and have no trouble knowing when the next rep will cause enough form breakdown to not be worth attempting. The only way to ‘learn what you can handle’ is to do it.


#19

This is the exact instruction from the Greyskull LP on AMRAP sets. “This means that the lifter does not simply stop completing repetitions of the lift at five, or some other arbitrary number, but rather continues with the set until they are sure that the next rep will not be completed safely (as in the bench press or squat) or (as in the press or the deadlift) a failed attempt at a repetition is made.”

I personally don’t follow this advice on deadlifts, but I think the guidelines are pretty good for the other lifts. Basically, if the bar is going to hurt you, stop when your form begins to break down.


#20

[quote]electricred wrote:
I’m a beginner and have no trouble knowing when the next rep will cause enough form breakdown to not be worth attempting. The only way to ‘learn what you can handle’ is to do it. [/quote]

It’s interesting how this changes over time.

When you’re starting out, yes, it’s pretty clear. But then as time goes on, “good form” becomes more narrowly defined as you start to really develop a proper groove, and some reps that you used to consider good form no longer are.