December 8, 2010
December 13, 2010
Every Breath You Take

We lift heavy things. Tuesday we picked heavy things off the ground, and Thursday we pressed heavy things overhead. To lift heavy things properly, we place a lot of emphasis on technique. When we do this, we often talk about mid-line or core stabilization. This brings to mind, and rightfully so, the core muscles: abs, obliques, hip flexors, and spinal erectors (not to mention your glutes, lats, and traps). However, your diaphragm is also a core muscle, and its one that we don’t often highlight in our training. Yet it is one of, if not the most, important core muscles because we use it on EACH & EVERY lift we perform.

Of course, I’m talking about breathing. The key points to breathing are the How and the When.

(1) How: Breathing during lifting should be deliberate and deep. Holding your breath is one of the fastest ways to sabotage your lifts. Regulate your breathing, and be sure to take a conscious breath before each and every lift (including multiple reps within a round). Breath deep – think about pulling that breath into your belly, rather than your chest – to engage the diaphragm and stabilize the body. Imagine you’re preparing to take a punch in the gut; that’s the sort of deep breath, tight mid-section you’re after.

(2) When: On single rep lifts, or when beginning multi-rep lifts, take a deep breath in before beginning the movement to help you stay tight as you start to move the weight. Exhale as you near the terminus of the lift. For multi-rep lifts, I suggest breathing in BEFORE you begin to lower the weight (rather than breathing in AS you lower the weight). This will help you maintain a stable core and prevent you from simply collapsing as the weight lowers. As the weight returns to the starting position, you can touch and go (without bouncing!), or, reset, exhale, and then inhale before you begin the next repetition.

These are general guidelines, but hold true for the vast majority of lifting and workouts we do. And it was definitely a factor during the strength portion of last night’s workout, whether you knew it or not:

This was followed up by a simple “closer” to end the night:

Great work as always. Post final weights for the overhead, as well as pull-up numbers, to comments, as well as any questions/thoughts about today’s post. Looks like things should warm-up this weekend, so try to enjoy while you can!



  1. Sara says:

    Chris – Your posts are awesome… lots of great pictures and very descriptive.

    I push pressed 124lbs and felt pretty damn good about it. I generally start push jerking weight once it goes above 85 lbs so it felt good to actually push press the weight. The 124 also makes me think I can split jerk well over the current PR of 135lbs. Now if only I could clean more than that it would be great. 🙂

    Nice work to Andrea and Myra for their efforts on the Push press. Both were able to press 100lbs.

    I only did 2 rounds on the pull-ups so I didn’t over tax my bad arm. I got 14 and then 8.

  2. SaltyHat says:

    Thanks Sara – seemed appropriate since I know breathing was a topic of discussion amongst multiple people Thursday night.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.