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Breathe like a crocodile for results in the gym

According to the American Council on Exercise, you can determine your effort level during exercise by how hard you are breathing. You should be able to carry a conversation during moderate intensity such as walking. For vigorous intensity, such as running, you will be breathing faster, but you should be able to talk in short sentences. When you reach maximum heart rate, you may not be able to say a word or two.

I am often asked,” how do I breath during exercise?”. My immediate response is, “please do”. I don’t mean this as a sarcastic answer. Shallow (chest) breathers or breath holders are common in the gym. Holding your breath can lead to a dangerous increase in blood pressure. During the Valsalva Maneuver, intrabdominal pressure can lead to a hernia. Breathing sounds so simple, but it sometimes takes practice to do it correctly. Proper breathing ensures that the blood circulating to your working muscles is oxygenated and that waste is removed

The best way to breathe is from the diaphragm. When done properly your belly will fill or push out and your rib cage (not your shoulders) will expand. Have you ever watched a crocodile or alligator? A crocodile’s side will expand with an inhale and depress with the exhale. Learning this skill will improve your flexibility, aid in muscle strength, decrease anxiety, and much more.

The most effective way to breath during strength training is to inhale as you lower the weight (eccentric- movement) and to exhale as you (contract) lift or push. The grunting or counting we hear (and other weird sounds) are the exhaling of air…someone is pushing themselves! If you find yourself holding your breath, consider the weight might be too demanding.

Practice breathing and aim to make it deliberate and slow.

For example: Take a long inhale while setting for your start, exhale as you raise the weight as into a shoulder press. Inhale continuously as you lower the weight. Use continuously breathing throughout your set.

Taking the time to practice proper breathing may be the first step to improving your workouts.

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