Training Tip Tuesday: Breathing Techniques for Workouts

There are lots of different breathing techniques for workouts. And while you can choose one and hop right into your workout, why not warm up your breath so you can breathe as efficiently as possible?

Yes, warming up your breath is a thing! Let me tell you why.

You probably know that we use our lungs to breathe but, unless you’re a singer, you might not know that a big part of how we breathe is a dome shaped muscle called the diaphragm.   

Contrary to what your voice teacher may have told you, you cannot “breathe with your diaphragm.” However, you can use your diaphragm to breathe. 

Let me explain.

Your lungs are sacks that fill with air, your diaphragm is a muscle that expands and contracts to create a vacuum in your chest, allowing more air to fill your lungs. 

The breathing techniques for workouts that we are covering today will help you locate and activate that muscle so you can intentionally control your air supply as you lift. 

Warming Up Your Breath

There are two ways we like to warm up our diaphragm for maximum breathing efficiency. 

The first uses the assistance of gravity.

Lay on your back with your feet on the ground, knees bent. 

Take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to expand. (That expansion is your diaphragm dropping down to create space for more air!)

Once full, blow your air out as if you are blowing through a straw. You will feel your stomach tense and begin to contract as your blow the air out. 

No cheating! Make sure you fully expel all of your air before repeating! This will really get that diaphragm activated and ready to work for you during your workout.

The second warm up works against gravity.

For this breathing technique, get up on all fours, as if you’re about to do a birddog. 

Without arching your spine, take a deep breath in, allowing your stomach to expand down toward the floor. 

Again, as you exhale, pretend you are exhaling through a straw. You might find this a bit harder as your diaphragm is working against gravity to contract and expel the air out of your lungs. 



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Breathing Techniques for Workouts

Now that your warmed up, here’s our favorite breathing technique for workouts. Specifically, here’s how to breathe while lifting weights.

While power lifters and weight lifters might hold their breath during certain lifts, for the types of workouts we engage in we encourage you to breathe, and breathe a lot!

Our favorite breathing technique requires that you breathe in on the eccentric portion of your lift (when the muscle is lengthening) and exhale on the concentric portion of your lift (when the muscle is shortening). 

Another way to think about this is to exhale as you lift the weight, and inhale as you lower the weight. 

Why do we like this breathing technique for workouts?

Think back to our warm ups. When you exhaled, your core tightened, yes? This offers the body more stability and support during the lift. 

If you are unable to breathe while lifting, that might be sign that you need to go down in weight or evaluate your form.


Want to hear what Coach Kierstin has to say about breathing techniques for workouts? Check out this video where you can follow along with our breath warm-ups! 


Want more tips from Dancers Who Lift? Give these blog favorites a read: Making a Split Decision: Tips and Tricks on How to Get Your Splits, Let’s Talk About Stress, Ba-by! Stress Management For Dancers, Leaping For Joy: A Dancer’s Guide on How to Jump Higher

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