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How to Control Your Breathing While Boxing

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.

Like in so many other martial arts forms, proper breathing technique can make or break your boxing performance. Therefore, Your breathing during a boxing match — or even while throwing punches in training — must be controlled. By changing the way you breathe when you're in the ring or on the mat, you can increase punching power and make yourself less vulnerable to body blows.

Why Is It Necessary?

It can be tricky to figure out when to breathe while you're boxing, a sport that will cause you to breathe heavily. Additionally, you're probably going to be wearing a mouthguard, which makes it hard to breathe through your mouth. In order for the mouth piece to work properly, your teeth need to be clenched when you get punched. That way, forces from the punch can be tempered by the mouthguard. You can breathe through your nose, but there simply isn't enough room to get a lot of air in.

You also have to be wary of body shots when you're boxing. If an opponent throws a swift punch into your stomach or ribcage, you need to squeeze your abs to protect yourself. It's hard to contract your abs while you're breathing in, so it can be difficult to take full breaths during a boxing match.

During your struggle to breathe in a boxing match, you must also muster up the energy to throw punches. Just like in weightlifting, proper breathing can enhance your speed and power slightly, giving you an extra edge.

Breathing with a Mouthguard

To figure out how to breathe during boxing, you have to start by learning how to breathe with a mouthpiece in. Start by going for a jog with your mouthguard in. You'll be out of the high-stress boxing environment and get a chance to focus on your breathing to find what works.

First, try to breathe through your nose through the entire run. It will be uncomfortable, and you might have to slow down, but this will teach you how to breathe without opening your mouth while you're boxing.

Then, try breathing through your mouth but keep your mouthpiece stuck to your top teeth. If you can't do this you might need to buy a different mouthguard and make sure it's molded tightly to your top teeth.

Custom mouthpieces are the best for boxing. In fact, a 2015 study in the Journal of Physical Education and Sport showed people who wear stock mouth guards get tired more quickly than people who have customized mouthpieces.

Read More: Boxing Exercises for Beginners

You'll learn during this drill that you have to relax as much as possible while you box. Every extra muscle that you clench takes up more energy and requires more oxygen.

Breathing While Punching

Many martial artists make sounds while they punch or throw other strikes. That's because you can force a short and powerful exhale by making a quick noise. This tightens your abs and helps you throw a more powerful punch. At the same time, it regulates your breathing.

Read More: 4-7-8 Breathing Exercises

As you punch, try making a "tssst" sound. You can also try saying the name of the punch you're throwing — for example, quickly say "jab" as you throw a jab. As long as you're making noise, it will help contract your core muscles and add to the punch. The noise should be short and powerful.

Between Rounds

During rest periods, your breathing should still be controlled. Most boxers take a seat on a stool during rest or walk around in the corner of the ring. Make sure that you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try taking longer breaths — 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out — to slow your heart rate down and help you recover quickly.

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