The Valsalva Maneuver

When performing the maneuver at what point do I exhale and inhale? Do I release and re tighten between each rep or try to hold it the whole set?

While I do agree with the potential benefits of valsalva’ing, part of me finds the general need to tell another human being how to breath troublesome.

Point 2 in this article talks about it. There are a few ways depending a little on the exercise and reps per set but basically, valsalva through the hardest part of the rep, when you’re under the most strain then as soon as you’re motionless (lockout or stretch position, depending on the lift) blow out air, take another big breath, and go for the next rep.

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Just how I do it, but

Take your air
Complete the rep

Repeat. Except for deadlifts and bench, where I exhale at lockout and take my air again there.

If you are interested in strength training then this is something you will have to learn. If you are more interested in gaining muscle then not so much but I would still advise learning how to do it just to save your lower back. When lifting heavy weights it’s vital to use your core strength.

Doing it one rep at a time may be standard for Squats but for deadlifts and bench press I’ll go 3 reps at a time if I’m serious about gaining strength. The main reason is you can stay tight and stay in the groove. . Breathing actually interrupts the groove. Sets of 3 are gold for strength training. Any more then yes you need to reset and take a breath and get tight again and well you will just learn this as you go.

Try doing some triples with just one breath and watch your strength explode.

Does this help grow muscle though? I would say no. It will tax your CNS to the max and you will be stronger but that’s about all. It works because you use more motor units for the same lift. Good in theory but if I want my pectorals to grow I don’t really need to be driving through the legs.


I’ve found the effect minimal, but if I could go for three reps on one breath I would. Plus, for DL, taking air at lockout means you get better at hanging on to the bar.