Proper breathing technique is essential for maximizing the benefits of your workouts and preventing injury. Here’s what you need to know about breathing during different exercises and workouts:
Strength training: During strength training exercises, such as bicep curls or push-ups, the general rule is to inhale on the relaxation phase and exhale during exertion. For example, when doing a bicep curl, inhale as you lower the weights and exhale as you curl them up. This technique helps you maintain control of the weights and avoid lifting weights that are too heavy for you.
A phrase I use to help my personal training clients remember this rule: “Always exhale while exerting force.“
Cardiovascular exercise: During cardio exercises, such as running or cycling, you generally breathe in and out through your nose or, when intensity ramps up, through your mouth. A common breathing ratio for running is a 3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio, meaning you inhale for three steps and exhale for two steps. However, this ratio may vary based on your fitness level and the intensity of your workout.
Yoga, stretching and other flexibility-focused activities: During yoga and other flexibility-focused activities, such as stretching, it’s important to take long, deep breaths. For example, during yoga, it’s common to take extra long inhales and exhales.
Abdominal exercises: When doing abdominal exercises, such as crunches, exhale when doing the main abdominal movement and inhale when going back down.