Breathing seems secondary during any physical activity, stress or pressure that requires you to handle and keep the situation in control. However, breathing is far more important than you may think. We’ll focus on exercise because breathing plays a major role when it’s about performances. In fact, there is a tight link between breathing and good exercise performances.
Have a look at 4 breathing techniques for better exercise performance.
Yoga breathing is characterized by slow and deep breathing. There a ton of breathing techniques regarding yoga. More commonly called Pranayama, breathing is the foundation of an effective yoga session. Slow and deep breathing is one of the best breathing techniques for better exercise performance as it provides your body with the right amount of oxygen to the muscles you’re using. For more information about Pranayama, find a very concise link at the bottom of the post
To do: Begin with sitting down. Breath in by your nose and breath out slowly by your mouth for as long as possible in order to empty your organism (stomach, lungs).
Endurance refers to regular and tough effort and, thus, a regular breathing rhythm. It can include, for instance, running, swimming or biking. The key is to set your breathing to the rhythm of your movements. Take time to focus on your movement while finding your breathing rhythm. The more you practice this technique, the more your breathing will be natural when exercising endurance.
To do: depending on if you’re a slow or fast runner, use the rhythm of your step to synchronize your breath. Use 2:2 breathing pattern. It means breathing in for two steps (one with your left, one with your right) and breathing out for two steps (one with your left, one with your right). The more you’re increasing your rhythm, the faster you need to breath (using, for instance, 1:1 meaning breath in for one step and breath out for one step).
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This breathing is very similar to the endurance one. Cardio breathing is great to optimize your effort.
During intense and short efforts, breathing must remain fluid but it’s not enough to meet the need for oxygen. It’s after the effort that you regain a normal breathing rhythm with nasal inspiration and long oral exhalations. Don’t worry if you feel that your breathing is uncontrollable.
To do (during your cardio session): take a deep breath and use 2:2 breathing pattern. Don’t forget to not hold your breath for this breathing but for any other types of breathing. As your body will expend much energy and get tired quickly, it’s definitely not recommended. It’s one of the most common mistakes as it can have a serious impact on blood pressure. If the session goes tougher and faster, use 1:1 pattern.
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Strength training breathing
Strength training exercises involve breathing based on the movements to be produced. It’s one of the best ways to bring the right amount of oxygen to the muscles you’re using. This breathing is also great because it helps to maintain the intensity and duration of the effort and make your session more effective.
To do: Breath in at the moment of muscle contraction and breath out at the moment of muscle relaxation. So, take a deep breath and then, instead of blocking your breathing and going into apnea, breath out slowly and for as long as possible.
Breathing has a major impact during exercising and even more to boost performances. There are many different breathing techniques for better exercising performances depending on the type of exercises. Indeed, the major keys when exercising to boost your performances is to adapt the way you breathe to the sport in order to be more efficient.
The ideal is to let your body adapt by starting your sessions gradually until you reach a correct and efficient breathing rhythm. Moreover, always listen to your lungs and your health overall.
Sources and further readings
Yoga Journal (Pranayama breathing): https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/pranayama
Main pic 4 Breathing Techniques for Better Exercise Performance @samknightt on Unsplash
Yoga pic @kikekiks on Unsplash
Endurance pic @mvdheuvel on Unsplash
Strenght pic @jonathanborba on Unsplash