We start breathing at birth. So we don’t think about it as much as we should. It’s something we do automatically. We can consciously control it, slow it down, speed it up, or just let your body take control and do its thing.
I have been studying martial arts and fitness since age 12, and have been a personal trainer since 2011 by profession. Much of my training reaches back to the martial arts. How we breathe is very important and many times over looked. There are various breathing methods depending on exercises you are doing and what you are hoping to accomplish. Martial arts, boxing, gymnastics, weight training, calisthenics, cardio and others all have various breathing techniques, yet all interlink. I want to go over what I have found most effective for both my training and the people I train. This is in no way the definitive guide, just my opinion. I won’t get into huge detail. I would like everyone understand what we are trying to teach, use it when training and everyday life.
Many of us breathe too often and our breath is shallow. We should breath from the diaphragm, not just our lungs, use your entire lungs and body capacity. Keep in mind this doesn’t simply have to do with your respiratory system, but your entire body, even your frame of mind. Your breathing should be in sync with your feet, hands and heartbeat as well as the positioning of various body parts depending on the exercise. Start with a tall posture. Your back is tall and erect. Your tongue presses against the roof of your mouth and you breathe in deep through your nose, a full breath until you can’t draw any more air. You push it into the pit of your lower abdomen and diaphragm. Your body and muscles become saturated with oxygen and energy. Then as you lift, push or pull, you drive the air out completing the movement, exhaling through your mouth, your energy explodes. This is the basic frame work. You can speed it up and slow it down. Your breathing is the key. It is your success or failure. It’s the difference between 10 or 15 reps, 15 or 25 lbs. and so on. Breathing is the bases your endurance, whether you run a mile or 5.
I work with three progressive personal training and group fitness facilities were we use a combination of functional training with body weight and free weight training in addition to kettlebells, TRX and more. So the following is an explanation of a few exercises we do and how to incorporate proper breathing techniques.
Let’s start with a squat. You can do this with or without weight. Look forward, stand with a tall posture in neutral position, feet about shoulder width apart, pointed forward from heels to toes. Inhale deep through your nose and push it into your diaphragm as you sit back into your heels, bending at the hips & knees to about 90 degrees, keeping your back and spine as tall as possible. As you rise up keep that neutral spin and feel your abdomen kick in at about 25 % of the way up exhaling through your mouth as you stand and return to your original position, rotate your hips out slightly and squeezing your glutes and core. The breathe ends at the top of the motion.
Next will be a Kettlebell Swing. Stand in the same neutral stance. Hold the kettlebell in front of your pelvis. You are going to begin with a small swing. As you breathe in through your nose push the air to the diaphragm, same as before. Hinge at the hips and knees slightly till about 20 degrees of flexion, activating your hamstrings, glutes and core. Sink your butt back as the bell swings between your thighs and into your butt. Then as you begin to trust your hips forward start to exhale from the diaphragm through your mouth. As you thrust you’re your hips, your hands and the bell swing forward to about 90 degrees from your hips to the bell completing the motion and breathe at the same time. Your hips, the kettlebell and breathe should all work in one swift motion and your stomach should be strong.
Last we will look at the TRX Row. Start facing the connection point. Hold the handles palms in / knuckles out, arms extended. Step forward and lean back with your feet about shoulder width apart. Keep your shoulders down & round, Chest out, abs in tight. Inhale deep pushing the oxygen into your diaphragm. As you pull yourself forward bending at the elbows to row breath out through the mouth until your arms are fully retracted and your hands meet your ribs. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, keep your core tight & your eyes looking up at the connection point.
In conclusion, take what you have learned with breathing and theses exercises into the real world. How would you breathe and safely position your body picking up a box, grocery bags or lifting your child?
Keep an eye out for my next articles on other style of breathing and fitness over the next few months.
John Hoadley has been studying martial arts and fitness all his life He is the former owner of Knights Academy of Martial Arts & Fitness and Founder of the Tai-Fu Jitsu System of Martial Arts. John has achieved the following education & certifications:
- Ninja-Ryu Ninjitsu
– Certified Black Belt Instructor in addition to training in other various martial arts
- Three Rivers Community College, Norwich, Ct
– Human Anatomy & Physiology
- National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association
– Certified Elite Training Specialist
John trains one on one clients and group classes at Rugged Fitness of Wethersfield & Cheshire, Connecticut, Core Club & 24/7 Gym of Durham, Connecticut and teaches Senior Group Fitness classes at assisted living homes though out Connecticut for Forever Fit http://about.me/johnhoadley