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Breathing Basics : How to Breathe Well and With Ease

Mar 02, 2023

Buckle up and grab a note book... 

We're about to drop some knowledge bombs. Because breathing habits and practices can radically change your day to day life, the outcomes of your training, your sleep, metabolism and even sex life!

(Spoiler alert : We've got a whole course on this if you want to skip ahead!)

Anatomy of Breathing

BREATHING is a complex experience of muscular activation and physics that happens at both a conscious and subconscious level. Your lungs can only exchange gasses... they just kind of hang out, waiting to be filled with air! 

The diaphragm, pelvic floor complex, transverse abdominis, intercostals, and even your throat and tongue work together (along with a lot of other components!) create and eliminate a sort of vacuum, allowing air to fill and leave the lungs.

Tight pelvic floor or immobile collar bones? That'll change your breathing!

Three ways to create to create good breathing muscle strength:

  1. Make sure your ribs are opening and expanding on the inhale (belly might move out a bit) and coming back together and in on the exhale.
  2. Practice breathing all the way out : can you use those corset muscles to push air allllll the way out? Pretend you're blowing out a birthday candle that's 15' away!
  3. Try breathing into your pants zipper, your bra strap/ribs, and arm pits. Find somewhere you can't reach? Practice!

Want more Anatomy? Check out Amanda Bauer's Breathing Transformation Course -- four weeks of self-guided breath re-education in less than 5 min each day.

Chemistry of Breathing 

To make it super simple : Glucose (sugar) and Oxygen make their way into your cells. Your cells do some biology magic and churn out ENERGY!

Energy is the combination of appropriate nourishment and EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT BREATHING as you need an adequate amount of both carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) in order for your cells to receive and used the oxygen those muscles are working hard to pull in!

To make sure you're getting and absorbing oxygen (to make energy!)

  1. Breathe through your nose when you're awake AND when you're sleeping
  2. Don't train harder than you can breathe. If you're working out so hard during your regular workouts that you're sucking wind and gasping for air : Dial it back! Make sure you can inhale through your nose most of the time.
  3. Complete your exhales. A few times a day (every hour?!) pause and make sure you're fully exhaling and - possibly - pausing for a beat at the end of the exhale. 

For advanced training, we actually recommend practicing breathing OUT more than you breathe in as part of your recovery practices!

TIMING of breathing:

People ask us a lot when lifting weights ... "Wait. When do I breathe?" There's biomechanical breathing, natural breathing, the valsalva maneuver, s-breath... gah!

Generally speaking: 

  1. Strength training -- inhale with the first half (preparation) part of the movement and exhale with the "work" portion of the movement (e.g. inhale down, exhale up out of a squat.)
  2. Yoga and mobility --  inhale with the extension (chest or front body opening) phase of and exhale with the flexion (bending or rounding) phase
  3. Endurance training -- breathe through your nose whenever possible, and ALWAYS on the inhale.

We're always here to answer questions, and our self-guided breathing transformation course is an amazing place to learn the skills and practices to radically change your life in just 5 minutes each day.

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