Had a little debate at the gym today about the correct way to breathe when lifting weights.

I’ve always been taught and believed that you should inhale during the eccentric portion of a movement,

And you exhale during the concentric portion of the movement.

For example, let’s look at a common and easy-to-understand exercise, the bench press.

As you hold the barbell and lower it to your chest, that is called the eccentric (inhale) part of the movement. When you push the weigh back up, that is called concentric (exhale) movement.

During a squat, as you lower your body toward the floor, that is the eccentric phase and you should inhale. Pushing yourself back up to a standing position is concentric, in which you should exhale.

A friend who has been working out his entire life does just the opposite. He inhales during the concentric, and exhales during the eccentric.

As I said, there are varying opinions on this, just as there are varying opinions on all kinds of things when it comes to exercise. For me, eccentric = inhale and concentric = exhale works best.

The main thing is this — never hold your breath.

There is something called the Valsalva maneuver that is useful for some things but not when you’re exerting yourself during strenuous exercise. Holding your breath when lifting a weight, instead of exhaling as you exert, can impede blood flow to the heart and seriously increase blood pressure.

Always remember to breathe.

If you’re holding your breath, you might be trying to lift too much weight. Back it down a little and practice proper breathing and proper form until you get used to it.

All right, be safe and be healthy!


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