Proper breathing during exercise and weight lifting
Breathing during exercise is one of those topics that never seems to go away. Everyone has an opinion about the correct way to breathe during weight lifting, and it
seems like the “experts” all think differently about how best to breathe during heavy lifting.
Is there a concensus about breathing during exercise?
Arnold Schwartzenegger is famous for saying it doesn’t matter how you breathe while lifting weights. In his definitive book about bodybuilding, he shrugs this topic
off. He almost seems amused by it.
Other writers scream and pull out their hair and shout from the rooftops that you must always breathe out during the concentric portion of the lift and in during the
eccentric! (In case you forgot: the concentric part of the lift is when your muscle(s) is contracting to cause movement. Usually, it’s when you’re fighting gravity.)
Still others — most of whom were influenced by Eastern mysticism — prescribe bizarre breathing exercises. They promise all sorts of near-magical benefits if you
will only learn how to breathe correctly.
What are the facts about breathing during exercise?
If you are going to lift weights, there are a few important points that you need to understand. Without going into things too far, I’ll give you the rundown:
Blood pressure and intra-abdominal pressure
When you hold your breath — especially during intense exercise — your blood pressure spikes. Additionally, your intra-abdominal pressure increases.
Powerlifters — and some other advanced weight lifters — take advantage of this phenomenon. They intentionally hold their breath during very heavy lifts because
the increase in intraabdominal pressure acts to solidify their core which in turn helps to support the spine.
Weight lifting belts also increase the intra-abdominal pressure when an experienced lifter uses them correctly and appropriately.
So, when an experienced powerlifter holds his breath during a heavy lift (and also when he pushes against a properly-worn weightlifting belt) he markedly increases
his intra-abdominal pressure. Thus, he can move more weight.
However, as I mentioned earlier, this same powerlifter’s blood pressure also increases during the intense lift. This can be a problem.
Weightlifters sometimes suffer from Valsalva retinopathy. This is a hemorrhage of the retina caused by holding your breath while “pushing”. While the damage isn’t
usually permanent, it’s still something to think about. If you have vision problems after an intense lifting session, you now know the reason.
Also, there is some tenuous information that links heavy weight lifting with an increased risk of glaucoma, another eye disorder.
The vagus nerve and the Valsalva maneuver
There is a nerve called the vagus nerve which runs down your neck close to your carotid artery.
When this nerve is stimulated, it reduces the heart rate and/or the blood pressure.
Some experts speculate that a blood pressure spike during heavy weight lifting can overstimulate the vagus nerve, leading to light-headedness or fainting.
Unfortunately, there’s really no reliable way to test this hypothesis.
The Valsalva maneuver during heavy weight lifting
Did you know that you can intentionally decrease your heart rate and blood pressure temporarily, whenever you want? Well, you can, simply by using a technique
know as the Valsalva maneuver. Wikipedia describes the Valsalva maneuver as a “forcible exhalation against a closed glottis”.
The Valsalva maneuver is named after the doctor who first described it during the Italian Renaissance. Although he was primarily interested in using this maneuver
to diagnose disorders of the inner ear, modern cardiologists have long known that it can also be used to diagnose heart problems and manipulate the heartrate.
How holding the breath during a lift can cause immediate fainting
Picture yourself bench pressing a very heavy weight. Maybe you can only get a few reps because you are trying for a new personal best. Your heart rate is all the
way up, your breathing is deep and labored, and you’re right on the edge. This is strength training at its most intense.
Now, when you are under the bar and straining for that last rep, it’s almost impossible to breathe. No matter the exercise — bench press, squat, overhead press —
when you are close to failure you can’t breathe during the rep because you need a strong, stable core to support your spine.
So, holding your breath and pushing is the only way to complete the rep. During a squat, it’s not such a big deal because you might be able to jump out from under
the bar. But during the bench press, it’s not so easy to get to safety.
When you hold your breath during intense weight lifting, you inadvertently perform the Valsalva maneuver. Your heart-rate drops, along with your blood pressure,
and if you are already at the edge of consciousness with your vision creeping inward and your thoughts muddled, it just might cause you to faint. Then again,
maybe you’ll be perfectly fine. Nobody can tell beforehand how their body will act.
Is this a problem? Maybe so, maybe not. Experienced powerlifters — and others — do this intentionally. They know what they’re capable of and they are willing to
take an informed risk.
On the other hand, many people have passed out while pushing a weight. While it’s fine for an experienced lifter to assume a known risk, most novices don’t have a
clue about how to breathe during weight training.
Deaths caused by weight lifting can be linked to improper breathing during training
This is why it is a terrible idea to bench press with low reps if you don’t have a power rack. If you strain for that last rep and pass out, you are in trouble. If you have
a spotter, you’ll probably avoid death, but unless he is very strong and alert, you’ll still get injured.
Although data is hard to come by, weight training accidents in the USA result in between 10 and 20 deaths per year on average, and weight training causes many
tens of thousands of emergency-room visits every year. Source: Weight training deaths article abstract. Most of the deaths (and, I presume, many of the injuries)
involve bench pressing.
So what’s the best way to breathe during strength training?
Breathe however you like. But when the reps get low, you won’t be able to breathe during a rep even if you want to. This isn’t a big deal unless you’re under a
bench press with no spotter. Some people — even professional athletes — have lost their lives after passing out during a bench press. None of these people used
a power rack and many of these deaths were completely preventable.
All the “tricks” that you use (like keeping the collars off during a heavy bench press so you can dump the weight plates if you get stuck) won’t help if you lose
Now, you are informed.
Accredited article from http://skinnybulkup.com/
This section of our website is an attempt to educate the lifter on the correct approach to lifting and becoming better all around person. All the information displayed is not our opinion,
but the opinion of others who have a ceditable back ground in the area of the artical. Gaining weight, losing weight, becoming fit, gaining muscle mass, improving your powerlifting
knowledge or any other information displayed in our site should not be attempted unless you are healthy and have the proper equiptment and spotters. It is recomended that your doctor
approve any & all attempts of using the information collected here.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Protein’s role in post-workout muscle repair
Protein is the “building block” for muscle (and amino acids are the building blocks of proteins), and during a workout, it breaks down, a process known as protein
degradation. After the workout, in the repair process, it’s built up again, a process known as protein synthesis. This ongoing cycle of building-up/breaking-down, which goes
on constantly, is known as protein turnover. The body can’t synthesize protein from nothing; it needs nutrients to do so. Thus, after a training session, you need to make
sure that the body has the fuel it requires to do its job.
Here’s where things get interesting. Following a workout, protein synthesis shoots up, and it stays up for at least 24 hours afterwards. This is why trainees are instructed to
do two things immediately after a workout (i.e. within the first 45 minutes):
1. Consume some simple sugary or starchy carbohydrates to make insulin spike, which then shoves nutrients into the cells more effectively.
2. Consume some protein for immediate delivery to hungry cells.
Tip: To make an easy post-workout protein shake that meets the carbs plus protein requirements, shake some fruit juice up with some soy protein powder in a plastic
Additionally, trainees should make sure to consume another meal of carbohydrates and protein (this time consume more complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains)
within a couple of hours post-workout.
Leucine: The ideal post-workout protein
But what kind of protein is best? A recently released study (Norton and Layman 2006) came to a provocative conclusion: The amino acid leucine plays a major role in protein
synthesis, and in fact, replenishes protein faster than anything else.
Unlike many substances that must go through various processes in the body to “work,” leucine can easily be consumed in the diet. The more you eat, the more leucine is
available to the body. Remember that I said protein synthesis continues for at least 24 hours? Well, in Norton and Layman’s study, a complete meal containing protein (or
leucine alone) produced complete recovery of muscle protein synthesis within the first hour after exhaustive exercise. Woah!
Sources of leucine
What foods are high in leucine? Glad you asked. According to www.nutritiondata.com, some of the foods highest in leucine are:
• Soy protein (especially soy protein powder)
• Cottage cheese
• Fish, particularly tuna and cod
• Egg white
Poultry, pork, beef, game meats and shellfish also contain leucine.
Topics: 1) Pro per breathing - 2) Protein’s role in post-workout muscle repair - 3)
Accredited article from http://www.thedietchannel.com/Protein-and-workout.htm