Monthly Archives: May 2013

How Do You Breathe?

Hellllllllllllooooooooo again everyone. I know I have been MIA. And I am sorry to scare you all off what has been a vacant website lately. I have not disappeared completely, physical therapy school has just been demanding too much of my time. I hope to be able to most more frequently. The new aim is once to twice a month. So keep that in mind a check in periodically.

Also please leave some comments on what you’ve liked, disliked and also leave some topics you wish I’d write about. It may be a perfect way for you to get some of your questions cleared up.

As for me school is going great and my knowledge is growing exponentially, so I have tons of new ideas and hope I’ll be able to drop some knowledge bombs sooner rather then later.

This brings me to what may appear to be a very odd topic of the day.


Every person in this world breaths thousands of times per day, so why on Earth am I trying to teach you about something so basic? What if I told you your breathing may be the cause of your neck pain, decreased energy and the reason why you can’t lift a respectable amount of weight?

Do I have your attention yet?
Good there is a lot more to breathing then you may possibly think. So lets get down to business.

There are two ways to breath, one is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, which is when the majority of the work done for breathing is done by your diaphragm (a major player in breathing).  I know that for a lot of people the stomach is a sensitive area, and nobody wants to be pushing their belly outward, but hopefully I can help you realize the importance of good breathing, especially during exercise.


You can see here how when this contracts it will push your belly outward.  

The other is called thoracic breathing (chest breathing), which is the drawing of minimal air into the lungs primarily but the use of the intercostal muscles rather then the diaphragm.


You can see how much smaller these muscles are, and there location is above the diaphragm causing the chest to rise rather then the belly.

Now that we have some better understanding, lets get into why one versus the other.

Lets first put into perspective, how much do we really breath?  Lets test your knowledge.

Is it A) The amount of times every girl in United States looks up a picture of Ryan Gosling

Is it B) The amount of tax dollars taken out of your paycheck in a year

Or is it C) Roughly 20,000 times.

The answer is C.  I know it was a tough question, but I bet you got it.  So we breath just about 20,000 times per day.  That is a lot, so now I hope you are starting to see the importance of  proper breathing.


  • Studies show that belly breathing can help reduce stress.  This is one reason why diaphragmatic breathing is used in many of the stress-relaxation techniques that are out there.  There are ties to yoga, meditation, tai chi, guided imagery and many others.  The thought here is that it helps decrease the levels of cortisol in your body.  This is THE hormone of stress.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing increases intra-abdominal pressure.  This is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE component to lifting weight.  Especially for all you aspiring strong men.  This helps stabilize the spine, and help the core musculature activate maximally allowing your strength to go through the roof, and keep you from leaving weights stuck to the ground.
  • Can increase your energy levels.  There are lots of different rationales out there about this, non that I have seen that are scientifically rooted.  I just go by this off my own experience.  Since beginning to belly breath, I have more energy throughout the day, sleep deeper and wake up earlier then I used to.  Give it a try for yourself.



  • Having poor posture can cause poor breathing habits, or it could be possible that poor breathing habits leads to poor posture, but this leads us to the which came first conundrum that we all heard about between chickens and eggs.  No one will ever be ever to tell you the answer, but by fixing one, you certainly have a better chance at fixing the other.  So rounded shoulder, forward head, tight pecs are all causes for you to be breathing improperly.


The first drill you can practice can either be a way to test how well you belly breath and/or be the first exercise that you should practice when trying to be able to belly breath.  It is as simple as this –

  • Lie on your back
  • Knees bent
  • Arms poking your obliques
  • Place a book on top of your stomach (around belly button)
  • Take a deep breath in and try to fill your stomach as far as you can

Once you can fill up your stomach with air and can watch the book rise up and down with every breath.  It is time to make things more complicated.  When it comes to lifting in order to have increased spinal stabilization, you must be able to fill your midsection 360 degrees.  So once you mastered the drill above, get into the same setup and focus on now doing this.

  • Take a deep breath, watch the book on the stomach rise
  • Feel your obliques push your fingers outwards

If you are worried about your stomach being pushed out, remember that in normal belly breathing, people won’t be able to see your stomach moving in and out, and it certainly won’t be as exaggerated as this video.

Once you can do this, consider yourself a belly breather.  You now know how to use your diaphragm to breath more deeply and you now know how to take a breath and use that breath to increase the stability of your spine.

Once you know how to breath in, its time to teach you how to breath out.  This is not so much for everyday health, but to learn how to breath out while exercising.  When exercising, we take a large deep breath before we begin the lift, as to increase spinal stability, and as we do the concentric phase of the exercise (usually the coming back up phase) we breath out.  But how do we breath out without completely losing the spinal stability we just learned how to create?  GREAT QUESTION!

  • Lie in the same setup as before (you shouldn’t need the book on your stomach by now, YOU’RE A PRO!)
  • Place a straw in your mouth
  • Take your deep breath in to fill your stomach, obliques and lower back
  • Then as you breath out, breath out through the straw.  The goal being to get out all the air you inspired (that is the hard part).

Thanks Tim for participating in this video, now everyone can see how sexy you breath

Once you got this down your ready to incorporate this into your exercises, and by now belly breathing should be a perfectly natural thing.  Just remember when breathing during your lifts, especially with heavy weights, you don’t want to completely get rid of all your air, you want to get rid on 3/4 of it so you can use that remaining 1/4 to maintain spinal stability.