I am going to begin this post by stating the obvious: the harder we exercise, the more oxygen our body needs to perform a particular task. Most of us our solely focused on properly lifting the weights or staying on the treadmill while at the gym. We have not even considered that our breathing may be a major contributor to our success in the weight room.
How we breathe during exercise is a key factor in our performance and something we need to pay attention to.
When we breathe, oxygen is needed to help fuel us for the activity, both anaerobically and aerobically. Like lifting weights or running form, there is a right and wrong way to do it. Many of us by nature our nose breathers. But studies have shown that when we are performing an exercise and concentrating, breathing through our nose can actually hinder our performance. As we try to force air in through our nasal passages while concentrating on a physical task, our jaw clenches, our facial muscles tighten and this can lead to cranial pressure and neck pain with some clients. For optimum performance we should keep our faces fairly relaxed while performing any type of exercise, weights or cardio.
I am biased- whether its habit or from a childhood accident, I will often favor mouth breathing over nasal and am I am in favor of having my clients practice mouth breathing while we are working out. I often have clients visualize a birthday cake full of candles, inhaling through their nose and then exhaling from their diaphragm through their mouths as they exert the energy needed to sprint or lift a weight. This also ensures that they do not hold their breath which can be very dangerous for some that may have blood pressure issues. Working on diaphragm breathing is another tier to this and can be very helpful when training your cardiovascular system. Some tricks I have for those who favor silent nose breathing is to have them lip sync to a favorite song while cranking on the elliptical or treadmill. Another one that I use typically while doing ab work is especially helpful for the teeth-clenchers. I have them recite their ABC’s which help relax the neck muscles and lossen their jaws.
What are some ways you help re-focus during your workouts?