Breathing while Exercising

Oct 20, 2017

Breathing for Strength Training

From the day you were born, you have breathed involuntarily, because every piece of your body requires oxygen. When it comes to weight lifting, your breath can be the biggest hindrance or biggest help toward reaching your fitness goals. The rhythm of your breath while you work out can dictate the efficiency of the movement your body takes during exercise, thus determining the quality of your lifting performance. There are many ways to breathe: deep, shallow, through the nose, out the nose, through the mouth, out the mouth, etc. During your normal daily activities, you may notice that you tend to breathe more shallow and through your nose. However, when it comes to physically active loads, there tends to be a different thought on how to breathe for optimal performance.


According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should inhale during the eccentric phase of your exercise and exhale during the concentric phase. For example, think of a standard bicep curl with a dumbbell. When the arm is extended straight, the bicep muscle fibers are lengthened, i.e. eccentric contraction. When the arm is curling in toward the shoulder, the bicep muscle shortens, i.e. concentric contraction.Proper breathing during exercise can decrease blood pressure and stress response, increase metabolic rate and improve performance during physical activities. There is much speculation on whether nose or mouth breathing works best. Various sports and lifting related subscriptions like Bodybuilding and HealthyLiving supports that the general consensus is to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth especially as loads increase in weight or duration. It is always recommended that you listen to your body as you exercise as it has a miraculous way of letting you know things like when to rest, weight limitations and even how to breathe.

Here are a few easy tricks to help your breathing for strength training!

breathing for exercise

Do cardiovascular training to improve oxygen flow through the body.Your lungs take in oxygen and your heart pumps the oxygen filled blood to the muscles during physical activity. The harder and longer you exercise, the more oxygen your body demands. By making sure you have a regular cardiovascular exercise regimen, your respiratory system learns to coincide more efficiently with greater loads of exertion during strength training.Practice conscious, deep breathing techniques.The mind and body are connected through the body’s physiology, so by training your body to consciously take deep, more fluid breathes, you are setting your muscles up for success. Check out these tips on breathing.Avoid/limit smoking and allergens that can affect your breathing.Allergies and cigarette smoke are among the top inhabitants of one’s breathing. So, it’s simple. Limit exposure to known allergens such as trees, grasses, foods, mold and more. If your symptoms persist long term, talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan to limit your symptoms. Also avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. If you need help quitting, please contact our Concierge Team at to get more information on our Smoking Cessation Program.We are also here to help! If you’re ready for support or want more information on breathing while exercising, drop us an email or give us a call at 877-293-9355 ext. 0!

– Casey Edmonds, CHC

Health Advisor | Email Casey


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