Deep breaths – The key to performance

Now I don’t care what you are doing whether you are hitting a punchbag, running a 100 meter sprint, dead lifting a cow or doing yoga..YOU HAVE TO BREATH!

Yeah I know this sounds strange and pretty obvious that yes breathing is compulsory and we don’t need to think about it….or do we ?

Let’s talk a bit of science.  Breathing in and out is controlled by the rhythmic movement of muscles and this in turn is controlled by the brain. Breathing is under involuntary control meaning that we don’t need to think about it, it’s not like you’re going to pick up that book and read it.  It’s very much under your minds control and you don’t need to think about it.  Basically our body hates carbon dioxide and loves oxygen so when our oxygen levels get too low and carbon dioxide levels rise this is when certain receptors in our blood vessels tell the brain that we need oxygen and in turn the brain signals the lungs to start expanding.  Pretty cool stuff eh?  So this is how we live our daily life, not thinking about inhaling oxygen, exhaling carbon dioxide to live to see the next day, hopefully making it to the Brazil world cup this year!

So let’s take this analogy and place it to exercise.  Imagine that you are lying on a bench about to do a heavy set.  You start lifting, lowering the weight down and push back up.  Yes yes the first 6 – 7 are pretty straight forward but then you start to feel fatigued and start wading off at about the 8th repetition and the 9th comes and you seriously struggle, needing somebody else to help lift that weight back on the resting position.  If I asked you; were you breathing? What would you say?  Yes of course I was!  Yea you were but if I asked you again were you breathing heavily and can I hear you breath then what would you say ? The answer is … uhh no.  This is the problem that I see with many many people, they do not breath hard enough to help their performance!

I tell all my clients to focus on their breathing to help them deliver oxygen and nutrients in to their muscles.  By doing this you open up your airways and vessels and deliver even larger amounts of nutrients compared to shallow breathing.  Shallow breathing (breathing only using your chest muscles) will not deliver the same performance as diaphragmatic breathing (breathing from your stomach) that’s just plain and simple! So the idea is to take a big breath in allowing your chest to expand, and by doing this you will tend to inhale alot more oxygen.  When you breath out from your stomach you tend you contract your deep muscles which in turn stabilises your spine and allows you to focus a lot more on the movement that you are carrying out.  People don’t realise how important it is breathing using those deep core muscles.  These muscles are your foundations, your middle which holds your body together and without a strong and stable mid section you will collapse like a sack of potatoes.  Why do you think that the majority of people suffering from lower back pains are overweight?  This is because they do not have a strong midsection.  Next time when you see Usain Bolt running, just watch is breathing patterns – slow and controlled, breathing in from the nose and out through the mouth making sure the breathing regulations come from the midsection.  (Watch it in slow motion as he is very fast and you might miss that action!).

I did a test a couple of weeks ago with a friend of mine.  He was at the gym and I was helping him with his benching.  So I was the spotter and he carried on as normal.  After his first set where fair play he did well but did struggle to carry out the last 2 I suggested to him to try this type of breathing.  You should have seen the results in the next set!  With my guidance, telling him to take big breaths in through the nose and big breaths out through the mouth but from the mid section he not only managed his set  but managed another 2 on top of that!  The 12th one was a bit of a struggle but he focused on his deep breathing and managed to push through.  If he didn’t carry out deep breathing patterns he would have failed on that 11th one for sure!

So no matter what you are doing even if it is house work or some sort of activity, always regulate your breathing meaning take deep breaths through your nose expanding that chest area and breath out through your stomach!  It will help you improve your lifestyle, strengthen your deep core muscles, improve your performances at the gym and help achieving max repetitions even quicker.  Even those people interested in sports such as martial arts, climbing, athletics or whatever you’re doing you should always focus on that breathing pattern.  This is great for beginners too to help build core muscles especially for those who are over weight and need to improve technique and posture.

If you want better and faster gains – get breathing!

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