Exercise Breathing Tips

How do you minimize breathlessness when exercising continuously for at least 20-30 minutes?  For most people, especially endurance athletes, their pulmonary system (lungs) is in good shape, but not nearly as fit as their cardiovascular and muscular adaptations to their training.  See some breathing tips below to maximize your energy during a workout.

Breathing Tips

1. Deep Breaths: Breath from your diaphragm (belly) versus from your chest (which is like hyperventilation).  Shallow breathing won’t allow for maximal oxygen to get pushed through your working muscles.

2. Nose Versus Mouth: Many experts state that breathing through the nose and then out through the mouth is best since it filters the air and leaves you less likely to cough.  This is a good strategy since it allows for less chance of hyperventilation to occur.

3. The Valsalva Maneuver: This maneuver is typically only for advanced weight lifting athletes.  It is useful to help increase pressure in the abdominal and thoracic cage (intrathoracic pressure build-up allows you to more push weight up).  The Valsalva is only needed or useful when you are performing a fast exercise and using max force.

4. Let it happen naturally: Thinking about breathing can really throw off your natural rhythm.  So just remember a few pointers, practice them from time to time, and let your breathing flow.

Recovery Breathing

Marissa’s Tip: When you are out of breath and want to see if you are ready to perform the next exercise (let’s say in a circuit or during interval training), try breathing three full consecutive breaths in and out of your nose without opening your mouth.  If you need to open your mouth before three breaths, you are not yet recovered and should take a little more time before starting up the next set.


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