Proper breathing during weight lifting is vital, not only for your performance, but also for your health. Breathing ensures that the blood circulating to your working muscles is oxygenated and that waste products are removed. Holding your breath during weight lifting can lead to dangerous increases in blood pressure, which can lead to injury.
Consequences of Improper Breathing
The act of holding your breath during weight lifting is referred to as the Valsalva Maneuver. While this may not sound like a serious issue, it can be. Holding your breath during weight training causes a rapid and dramatic increase in blood pressure. During the Valsalva Maneuver, intrabdominal pressure drastically increases and can lead to hernias. Other injuries can be caused by compromised areas of the vascular system and loss of consciousness.
While it may be tempting to hold your breath during exercise, the most effective way to breathe during resistance training is to inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift the weight. This helps to control your blood pressure while lifting heavy weights.
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: Effect of Breathing Techniques on Blood Pressure Response to Resistance Exercise
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Cardiovascular Adaptations to Resistance Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Frequently asked Questions – What is the Proper way to Breathe During Strength Training?