As most of you are aware, breathing is pretty important. But, did you know that proper breathing can help you set PR’s or eek out those last reps at the end of a workout?
The most common technique used by Powerlifters and Olympic Lifters to improve their mid-line stability and assist in their lifts is what’s called the Valsalva Maneuver. The Valsalva Maneuver is executed by exhaling against a closed airway. In other words, to execute take a big, deep breath into your diaphragm, expanding your belly, and hold during the entire execution of the movement.
So how does this help improve your lifts? The Valsalva Maneuver increases your intra-abdominal pressure, improving stability in your midsection so you can effectively transfer your power during the movement. This holds true whether you are performing a pull-up, back squat, bench press, or any other movement.
The common breathing technique appears to be the “breath-in on the way down (eccentric contraction), breath-out on the way up (concentric contraction)”. There are a couple problems with this method. 1) Breathing in during the negative portion of the movement doesn’t provide the opportunity to reach 100% tension, and 2) breathing out on the way up causes you to lose tension at the moment you need it the most. Every time you exhale while under load, you lose some degree of tension in your body making the current rep, or later reps of the same set more difficult.
Next time we go for a 5 rep max, challenge yourself to hold your breath the entire set. This task will be difficult, but it will keep you stable the entire set. And for max lifts don’t forget to hold your breath from the second you un-rack the bar until you’ve successfully completed the lift.
Workout of the Day
Max Effort Front Squat
Weight Lunges 3×6 (ea. leg)
RDL’s 3x 12-15