Business Today
Loading...

Breathing right in the gym

A proper breathing pattern is one of the most important constituents of a weight-training regimen but, unfortunately, many people, particularly beginners, often pay scant attention to how they breathe when they’re lifting weights.

     Print Edition: April 20, 2008

It’s a simple thing that we all normally do unconsciously but i’ve seen many people get it wrong in gyms. Breathing is what I’m talking about. A proper breathing pattern is one of the most important constituents of a weight-training regimen but, unfortunately, many people, particularly beginners, often pay scant attention to how they breathe when they’re lifting weights. They either breathe incorrectly or hold their breath, both of which can have serious health consequences.

Weight-training regimen
Weight-training regimen
First, a quick take on weight-training. By definition, lifting, pushing or pulling weight involves exertion of muscles for which the body requires a dose of energy that it can use while performing the action, say, bench pressing or squatting. The bigger the muscle group being exercised and the greater the weight used as resistance, the greater the exertion and, hence, the need for energy. So, how does breathing come into the picture? Breathing provides the lungs with oxygen, which creates energy and it is crucial that we breathe properly while exerting our muscles. The simple rule of thumb is to breathe out while exerting or contracting your muscles and breathe in while relaxing them. So, if an exercise, like the bench press, shoulder press or leg press, requires moving the weight away from the body, then exhale when you push it away and inhale when you come back to the starting position.

Likewise, in exercises where you pull the weight towards your body, like hamstring curls, biceps curls or latpulldowns, exhale when you pull the weight in and inhale when you go back to the starting position. Breathing in the pattern described benefits your workout— you can lift or push or pull more weight than if you breathe erratically. Sometimes people hold their breath while doing a heavy workout, like a bench press, and wonder why it seems so difficult and exhausting. The reason is simply that by holding the breath the body is deprived of oxygen.

Also read

Breathing in and out in the right manner also prevents health risks. Here’s how. During weight training, blood pressure levels naturally increase. So, if, like many gym newbies, you hold your breath, the pressure shoots up even more and then abruptly drops when you stop exerting your muscles. Volatile fluctuations of that kind in blood pressure can, besides leading to giddiness, even cause a heart attack. Sudden blood pressure build-up is even known to cause glaucoma leading to blindness.

A couple of more tips to ensure that your workouts are safe: always ensure that you breathe in deeply and breathe out freely instead of pursing your lips, which can artificially increase the blood pressure; also avoid having anything in your mouth. Many people like to train with weights while chewing gum. During strenuous weight-training this is risky as the gum or a lozenge that you may be sucking can get lodged in your throat. That might sound frivolous but I know of cases where such a situation has led to choking and even death. Follow the right technique and breathe easy while you work out.

Muscles Mani

Write tomusclesmani@intoday.com and read the Treadmill blog at www.businesstoday.in

Caveat: The physical exercises described in Treadmill are not recommendations.
Readers should exercise caution and consult a physician before attempting to follow any of these.

Youtube
  • Print

  • COMMENT
BT-Story-Page-B.gif
A    A   A
close