How to Breathe When Lifting Weights – Part 2

by Jordan Syatt March 11, 2014

In part 1 of this series I explained, in detail, how to breathe when lifting weights. I also discussed how to properly utilize bracing techniques designed to improve strength and safety while training.

Believe it or not, I even explained how squeezing your abs, as though you were trying to poop, can enhance overall strength and performance.

Don’t believe me?

Read part 1 and find out for yourself. 

In today’s piece, I expand on the information provided in part 1 and teach you how to apply it while lifting maximal weights.

No, I don’t mean maximal weight bosu ball shake weight calf raises.

I mean maximal weight squats, deadlifts, bench press’s, overhead press’s, and other movements of the sort.

As a frame of reference, maximal weights constitute anything between 85-100% of your 1-repetition maximum (1RM). Needless to say, these are relatively heavy loads and are generally lifted for 1-5 repetitions per set.

With that in mind, watch the brief video below for a full explanation detailing exactly how to breath while lifting maximal weights.

How to Breathe When Lifting Maximal Weights

To recap

Phase 1: Initiation of the Lift

  • Take a deep breath filling both your belly and chest as much as possible
  • Brace your abdominals (as though you were trying to poop) and begin phase 2

Phase 2: The Eccentric Portion of the Lift

  • Hold your breath the entire time while firmly bracing your abdominals
  • As you reach the end range of motion, brace your abdominals as hard as humanly possible and begin phase 3

Phase 3: The Concentric Portion of the Lift

  • Bracing your abs as hard as you can, drive yourself to the top position
  • You can either hold your breath until the very end of the lift (full valsalva) or forcefully exhale as soon as you break through your sticking point (partial valsalva).

What about the deadlift? Seeing as the concentric phase of the deadlift comes first, how should breathing be adjusted?

That’s a great question which I answer in the brief video below

When to Take Your Breathe During the Deadlift

To recap

Phase 1: Setting Up

  • Set your feet and body in the position that feels most comfortable for you.
  • Take a big breath while standing upright, quickly descend to the bar, brace your abdominals, and lift as quickly as possible.

OR

  • Set your feet and body in the position that feels most comfortable for you.
  • Lower yourself to the bar, get in position, take a big breath, brace your abdominals, and lift as quickly as possible.

Phase 2: The Concentric Portion of the Lift

  • Bracing your abs as hard as you can, drive yourself to the top position and lockout as quickly as possible.
  • You can either hold your breath until the very end of the lift (full valsalva) or forcefully exhale as soon as you break through your sticking point (partial valsalva).

Phase 3: The Eccentric Portion of the Lift

  • Lower the bar as quickly as possible.

Finally, as noted in the first video, I’ve received numerous questions regarding optimal bracing techniques and recently stumbled across a simple trick that will drastically improve your strength. This post is starting to get a bit lengthy so I’ll show you exactly how to use this simple trick in Part 3 of this series. 

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Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.

-J






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