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Woman doing a pistol squat. Title Reads: Breathing for Strong Abs

Four breathing drills for strong abs

breathing exercise Jul 12, 2021

STEP 1: Let’s Re-define “Abs"

Abs are weird. And before we go deeper into breathing for stronger abs I want you to have a clear picture in your head of a box. 

The top, bottom, back and sides are all cardboard, and the front of this box is rock solid abs concrete.

Next, picture something heavy, a kettlebell for example, and put it in the box. If that box has to move up and down and turn itself around, what's gonna happen to the kettlebell? That’s what I’d like you to imagine when you think of training your abs.

So let’s redefine what we mean when we say “abs.” 

Your abs, just like your diaphragm, pelvic floor, obliques and your back muscles act as a healthy little box to keep all your really important internal organs safe. They act to stabilize your midline and provide support against gravity so you can do you and all the things that this world has to offer.

If we look at abdominal muscles and their anatomical function we can see that they move when we breathe functionally. I’ll say it again - your abs move when we breathe. Therefore when training your abs, your breathing matters, and vice versa - your abdominals to get stronger when you take on a breathing practice.

If we go back to that box visual, I’d like you to breathe in. Feel your belly, back and sides move out. Breathe out. Feel your ribs move in and down. Exhale fully and notice the ‘cinching’ of your waist, the contraction of your abdominal muscles and picture what must happen in order for that box not to explode. Those muscles must be able to move together, relax and contract in concert with the cadence of your breath and your movement.


STEP 2: “But when do I breathe?!”

Cool cool cool. We know now that abs, breathing, and movement is all connected. But then there’s the question I volley with nearly every client I see:

“But when do I breathe?!”

You’re on your hands and knees, rocking or reaching, maybe you're pressing or squatting and you may ask yourself, how should I breathe in this position? 

This leads us to Biomechanical vs. Anatomical breathing. 

Next time you're doing gentle movement, mobility, and balance work, focus on if your body is extending (getting bigger) or flexing (getting smaller) and think logically about what that box does in both situations. When we inhale our ribs move out and when we exhale they move in and down.

During Anatomical Breathing our glutes and bellies are relaxed on our inhales. During exhalation our belly button and spines move towards one another, creating a safer center of balance and a more intuitive sense of grounding. 

Biomechanical breathing is what is used for strength. And woweee using this technique gives quite a leg up in strengthening those abs! Think of this as an exhale on the exertion portion of the exercise. When you squat, it’s often harder to go up, therefore, exhale as you stand up out of the squat.


Now that we have a better understanding of how breathing impacts your abs, its time to put it to the test!


STEP 3: Try these drills to strengthen your abs



  • Hook line breathing
  • “S” breathing
    • Place your tongue behind your teeth. Inhale low into your abdomen. Exhale by hissing. Feel how your ribs move in and down, creating a stronger contraction through your abs and the rest of that breathing box.


Until next week,
Amanda Bauer
Forest Coaching Breathwork and Running Expert
Follow her @amanda_willrun4cookies


Are you ready to learn how a breathwork practice can not only strengthen your abs, but transform your entire life? Reach out or join our resident breathing expert, Amanda Bauer, for Breathing Fundamentals - A 4 Week Self Study Course - to learn how to develop a bulletproof respiratory system and transform your life 


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