Obviously we all breathe, but have you ever been in the middle of a workout and found yourself gasping for air and feeling like you just can't get enough oxygen in quick enough?
How about just before you try a big lift - ever find yourself wondering whether to breathe in, breathe out or hold your breath?
Don't worry, it's normal. But not thinking about your breath during a workout can lead to sub-optimal performance, and focussing on when and how you breathe can have a positive impact on your training.
Hell, it can even improve your Fran time - and that’s what we all want that - right?!
If you read books or listen to podcasts by coaches and athletes then you’ll notice they all talk about breathing at some point. How important it is. How much difference it can make.
And the good news is thatthere’s only a handful things to consider about your breathing when working out - when and how to breathe in, how long to hold the breath for, and when and how to breathe out.
Here's some patterns we recommend:
During strength training, where we typically focus on between 1 and 6 reps for a number of sets, deeply inhaling into your belly and holding the breath before you start a rep engages your core and braces the body.
It opens and lifts the chest helping you to maintain good form. It also gives you the option to use a powerful, quick exhale to assist the completion of the movement.
So in the example of a squat: You un-rack the bar and get your feet intopositon, you look forward and take a deep breath in then start to move down. Once you hit below parallel you start to exhale (in a strong but controlled way) and stand back up.
At the top of themovement you repeat by breathing in, bracing and holding on to the
breath before thedecent. Personally this has made a huge difference to my front squat.
That deliberate inhale at the beginning lifts my chest and elbows into a much better starting position, and using a powerful exhale when coming back up feels like it allows me to ‘explode out of the hole’ more effectively.
This same breathing pattern also applies to deadlifts and presses. Just watch this video of Annie (and her super abs) to see it in action.
Annie Strict Press
Now on to MetCons. This is a little more tricky as sometimes it involves both lifts and strength aspects, solets split this one up.
1. Pure cardio i.e. Running, rowing, skipping, burpees etc.
This is all about rhythm. You need to establish a breathing pattern that works for you and allows you to continuously breathe in and out with ease. The aim here is to avoid very short sharp breaths and to get into a tempo of 2 sec in -2 secs out (or more),
rather than 1 sec in - 1 sec out (or less).
2. Combo exercises like Thrusters and wall balls (aka the motherf*cker movements of CrossFit).
These expose poor breathing techniques like no other. If you hold your breath for multiple reps during these movements, (which most people do especially when at the beginning of their CrossFit journey) you will quickly find yourself either on the floor or standing with your hands on your knees searching for answers to why you can’t keep moving!
But - if you can remember to breathe out at the top of the movement in that brief pause before the ball comes back at you or your arms bring the bar down for the next rep, then
everything gets easier.
Same thing applies to burpees, air squats. Breathe out at the top of every rep.
3. Body weight exercises like toes tobar, pull ups, muscle ups require a little bit of both of the above.
Don’t hold your breath, rhythm is critical and you need to find the right point to inhale and exhale. Experiment with this by trying 5 reps with an inhale on the pull and an exhale of the release, and then 5 reps the other way round to see what works best for you.
Let’s leave it there for today. Like mostthings it’s important not to over analyse this to the point where it becomes a distraction. Sometimes all you need is the intention to focus on this during a workout. Not necessarily by stopping moving, but by deliberately paying attention to your breathing pattern, making a mental note of when you feel particularly out of breath and experimenting with different things to see what helps you and what doesn't.
For more info or questions just ask the coaches but until next time - don’t forget to breathe!