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Breathing, an instruction manual


Breathe in

Breathe out


All is well right?

So far anyway.

But then you go for a run. Or you pull a heavy deadlift Or swing a kettlebell a bunch of times Or do a few rounds of sparring

And suddenly that breathing thing doesn’t seem so simple.

I encourage you not to take anything for granted.

Even the ability to breathe.

Its odd how much the most important things for our survival are so misunderstood and taken for granted. Eating, sleeping, walking and breathing as prime examples.

But breathing.

If you follow my work you should already be aware of a variety of breathing styles depending on the activity at hand.

But as always, anytime there are differing “styles” in anything, it behooves you to look past the differences and pick out the similarities.

Breath in Breath out Eccentric Concentric

Those last two terms are used to describe muscle action. And muscles are involved in breathing.

Which is a good thing.

Here’s a quick guide to breathing:

AT REST Or during every day activity. Breath via the nose, the sinuses. Keep the mouth gently closed and allow the tongue come to rest naturally on the roof of the mouth. Notice the words “rest” and “natural(ly)

If we’re doing simple stuff, we don’t need to be panting like a dog doing our best to catch flies.

Read books on Buteyko breathing.

DOING CARDIO As above as much as possible. Cardio training takes place at “conversation pace” It’s low intensity Use this to practice nasal breathing so it gets to become the default setting at rest.

If you’re working too hard to nasal breathe either slow down or open your mouth to get over the hump, then shut it again.

HIGH INTENSITY Short duration high intensity work, a la interval and circuit type work requires higher levels of gas exchange.

Use a sharp exhale, blow out hard.

This triggers a stretch reflex type action in the diaphragm and guess what?

By ignoring the in breath and focusing solely on the out, you end up balancing the O2 and CO2 in a way that keeps you going harder and prevents fatigue at least in the short term.

During rest periods and immediately afterwards, continue the exhale only breathing.

HEAVY LIFTING Valsalva and power breathing. We need to maximise intra abdominal pressure. So inhale, hold onto it, tighten the body, feel the pressure increase. Exhale only as you approach the lockout of the lift.

CHAOTIC ENVIRONMENTS Such as the ring or the rugby field. Do the best you can Chances are if you’ve spent the time on each of the above, you will fall into the most appropriate style.

BUT DON’T FORGET: Breathe in Breathe out And always breathe out more than you breathe in


Dave Hedges

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