Tips from the Pros

The Right Way to Breathe While Working Out

Knowing the right way to breathe while working out is incredibly important. Breathing correctly makes it easier to move and improves the overall quality of your workout. Why? Because your muscles get the oxygen they need. But did you know that many people don’t pay enough attention to their lungs during exercise because they’re so focused on the workout itself? The FizzUp trainer is here to tell you more about the vital role your lungs play during physical activity and give you a few tips on better breathing.

THE BASICS OF BREATHING

The contact surface area between the air and the blood in your lungs is around 100m², the size of a tennis court.
The main purpose of the respiratory system is to provide your body with oxygen (O2) and to get rid of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the same time. Your diaphragm is what makes breathing possible, besides other muscles such as your abs and the ones between your ribs.

As you breathe, air goes into your nose, then through your nasal passages, throat and voice box. It travels down your trachea and into your bronchial tubes. Finally, it reaches your lungs and penetrates your alveoli. This is where a gas exchange happens between the air and blood. Oxygen goes into your blood while carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere as you exhale. Because the exchange surface area in your alveoli is so large and is packed with blood vessels, this increases the amount of oxygen that enters your blood.

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Blood flows into your alveoli low in oxygen and comes out oxygen-enriched. It leaves your lungs to circulate within your body’s organs to make sure that your muscles keep working correctly. Your heart is like a pump and brings the blood back before propelling it through your bloodstream so that oxygen reaches all your organs. In other words, this is the opposite of what your lungs do. Your blood delivers the oxygen your cellular metabolism needs as it sends carbon dioxide, created by cellular respiration, back to the alveoli in your lungs to expel it from your body.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T BREATHE THE RIGHT WAY WHILE WORKING OUT?

As you exercise, your body and muscles need more oxygen than usual in order to function correctly. Your lungs and heart have to work harder, which is why you start breathing faster. If you suffer from breathing problems or just aren’t breathing correctly, this can make you stop what you’re doing.

It all starts with a shortness of breath: a sign that your breathing can’t provide your body with enough oxygen. Then, a lack of oxygen causes lactic acid to build up. As a result, your muscles get stiff and acidify, making it harder for you to use them the way you want to. Consequently, you can suffer from muscle cramps or injuries that are even worse because of poor breathing and a lack of oxygen. As you can see, breathing correctly during exercise makes all the difference and is good for your health.

If you want to keep discomfort at bay and start breathing in a way that makes your workout more effective, you need to make sure it’s steady and right for your workout’s intensity. Many factors come into play when it comes to using the right breathing techniques for any kind of exercise, such as your abdominal wall and your ability to control stress. If you do this, you’ll make sure your muscles get the right amount of oxygen they need.

1 | BREATHING DURING ENDURANCE TRAINING

During endurance training, which is designed to make breathing easier, cellular respiration gives your muscles the oxygen they need. For this kind of exercise (such as walking, jogging or swimming), steady breathing is the right technique. Generally speaking, exhaling should take two to three times longer than inhaling. You don’t need to breathe as fast as you move. What’s best is to let your body adapt by easing into your workout until you get up to speed. A normal breathing rate will come naturally.

2 | BREATHING DURING HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING

After you finish a high-intensity workout, you’ll get back the oxygen you lost as your breathing goes back to normal.
During brief, but intense exercise, such as sprinting or the exercises included in your HIIT cardio challenges, you need to keep your breathing steady. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to satisfy your oxygen needs. After exercise, your breathing will go back to normal if you take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should do the same during interval training, which you can make even more effective by taking deep breaths during your rest time.

3 | BREATHING DURING STRENGTH TRAINING

During strength training, your breathing needs to go along with the exercises you do. As a general rule, you should exhale when you contract your muscles and inhale when you relax them. This goes for any concentric and eccentric exercise, such as push-ups, squats, pull-ups, etc. On the other hand, you should breathe normally while doing isometric exercises such as planks, because your muscles are working without having to move.

A FEW TIPS ON THE RIGHT WAY TO BREATHE WHILE WORKING OUT

Here are a few easy tips you can use to help you breathe the right way and optimize your lung power during exercise.

1 | BREATHE IN USING YOUR STOMACH AND FOCUS ON YOUR EXHALES

Breathing in using your stomach, also known as diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing, is one way to improve your diaphragm’s airflow and mobility. With this kind of breathing you can tame side stitches. Focusing on your exhales helps you expel more carbon dioxide, which means that you’ll have more space in your lungs for oxygen-rich air that your muscles can thrive on.

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There’s an easy way to find out if you’re breathing using your stomach or your chest. Lie on your back and put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. As you inhale, your stomach should fill with air first, not your chest!

2 | KEEP BREATHING NORMALLY

This is one of the most common mistakes that people make, especially beginners. They focus all their attention on how intense the exercise is and forget to breathe. As a result, their muscle tissue doesn’t get the oxygen it needs, making the workout harder because their muscles have lost some of their strength.

That’s why paying attention to your breathing is as important as doing your exercises correctly. The steadier your breathing is, the more repetitions you’ll be able to do.

3 | INHALE THROUGH YOUR NOSE AND EXHALE THROUGH YOUR MOUTH

There are a lot of perks to breathing through your nose. The first is that the inside of your nose and nasal cavity act as a filter that catches dirt and bacteria in the air, making it cleaner for your lungs. In cold weather, the hair in your nasal mucous membrane also heats up the air you inhale so that it’s gentler on your lungs.

Inhaling through your nose increases your oxygen uptake by 10 to 15%, as compared to inhaling through your mouth.
In 1998, three American researchers made a surprising discovery that won them the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine. They found that nitric oxide, a gas that had been considered a common air pollutant, could also be produced in the human body, especially in the sinuses. These are connected to your nostrils, so breathing through your nose creates more nitric oxide in the air you inhale. It then travels to your lungs where it dilates your blood vessels that cover your alveoli. Nitric oxide makes gas exchange easier and enables your blood to better absorb oxygen

4 | QUIT SMOKING

It goes without saying that you’ll breathe better during exercise if you take care of your lungs. If you’re a smoker, your first priority should be to quit smoking for good. The tar you inhale significantly impacts your ability to breathe. Carbon monoxide attaches to your red blood cells and prevents your body from getting oxygenized, which decreases your resistance to exercise and makes you tired. Quitting is hard, but when you succeed, you’ll be thrilled. So why not give it a try?

Now you have every chance of fitness success with these handy breathing tips you can try for a more effective FizzUp workout! Proper breathing technique makes moving easier and ensures that your muscles get the oxygen they need.

The Author

Staff FizzUp

Staff FizzUp

Composée de rédacteurs passionnés, la Team FizzUp a pour seul but de motiver la communauté par des articles instructifs et divertissants. L’esprit de collaboration est au centre de cette équipe que ce soit au travail ou à l’entrainement dans la FizzUp Box.

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