A Guide to Proper Breathing Techniques During Exercise

Breathing during exercise

Breathing is an essential aspect of sports performance, yet it is often overlooked by athletes and coaches alike. The way you breathe during exercise can have a profound impact on athletic performance, from improving endurance to reducing the risk of injury. In this article, we will explore the importance of breathing in sports and the various techniques that can be used to optimize performance.

Understanding the Breathing Cycle

The human body naturally breathes at a rate of about 5.5 breaths per minute. However, during high-intensity physical activity, the breathing rate can increase dramatically. This increase in breathing rate can provoke not providing enough oxygen for the muscles and decreased mental focus.

Benefits of Proper Breathing in Sports

When engaging in physical activity, the body requires more oxygen to meet the increased demand for energy. Good breathing techniques can improve the flow of oxygen to the muscles, allowing the body to perform at a higher level. In addition, breathing properly can reduce stress and anxiety, allowing athletes to stay focused and perform at their best.

Another benefit of incorporating breathing methods into a sports training regimen is increased endurance. By breathing correctly, the body can efficiently use the oxygen it receives, leading to improved stamina and endurance. This, in turn, can lead to improved performance, as the body is able to continue working at a high level for a longer period of time.

The Benefits of Controlled Breathing

Controlled breathing can benefit athletes in several ways. First, by breathing less often, athletes can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in their bodies. This reduction in carbon dioxide can lead to improved oxygen flow to the muscles. Additionally, controlled breathing can help reduce muscle fatigue and improve mental focus.

Common Breathing Techniques for Athletes

There are several breathing methods that athletes can incorporate into their training regimen to enhance their athletic performance. The most common techniques include:

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing: This technique involves focusing on breathing from the diaphragm, rather than the chest. This type of breathing is known to improve oxygen flow to the muscles and can lead to improved endurance.
  • Box Breathing: This technique involves taking slow, deep breaths and holding them for a set amount of time before exhaling slowly (i.e. 4 s inhale, 4 s hold, 4 s exhale, 4 s hold). Box breathing can be used to reduce stress and increase mental focus before a competition.
  • Breath Holding: This technique involves holding one’s breath for a set amount of time, typically 5–10 seconds. This type of breathing is known to increase endurance and can also improve focus.
  • Controlled Breathing: Controlled breathing involves taking slow, deep breaths and exhaling slowly. This technique can be used to calm the body and reduce stress, leading to improved focus and performance.

Incorporating Breathing Exercises into Your Daily Routine

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Making breathing exercises a part of your daily routine can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths in the morning or at the end of a long day. You can also try incorporating more advanced techniques into your workout.

For those who prefer a more structured approach, there are many different breathing techniques you can try. For example, you can practice belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and the 4-7-8 technique, just to name a few.

Incorporating Breathing Techniques into a Sports Training Regimen

Incorporating breathing techniques into a sports training regimen is easy and can lead to significant improvements in athletic performance. Some tips for incorporating breathing techniques into your training regimen include:

  • Incorporate breathing exercises into your warm-up and cool-down routines
  • Practice proper breathing during your training sessions
  • Focus on breathing during competition or high-pressure situations
  • Experiment with different respiratory techniques to find what works best for you

How to Use Breathing During Exercises

Using breathing during exercises can help to maximize performance and reduce the risk of injury. It is essential to coordinate breathing with movements during exercise to ensure proper oxygen delivery to the muscles. Here are a few guidelines on how to use breathing during exercises::

  • Strength training: When lifting weights (or your bodyweight), it is recommended to inhale on the eccentric phase (lowering the weight) and exhale on the concentric phase (lifting the weight). This helps to stabilize the spine and maintain proper form.
  • Cardio: During cardio exercises, it is recommended to breathe deeply and evenly to maintain a steady pace. This can help to improve oxygen delivery to the muscles and prevent fatigue.
  • Yoga and Stretching: During yoga and stretching, it is recommended to breathe deeply and focus on relaxing the body. Controlled breathing can help to increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

Breathing Techniques for Specific Exercises

Depending on the type of exercise, different breathing techniques to optimize performance and reduce the risk of injury are necessary. Here are a few tips on how to breathe specific exercises:

  • Squats: When performing squats, inhale as you lower your body and exhale as you push back up to the starting position.
  • Deadlifts: When performing deadlifts, inhale before lifting the weight and exhale as you lift it.
  • Bench Press: When performing the bench press, inhale before lowering the weight and exhale as you push it back up.
  • Plank: When holding a plank, focus on taking slow, deep breaths and maintaining a stable, controlled breathing pattern.
  • Mountain Climbers: When performing mountain climbers, inhale for two steps and exhale for two steps.

The Best Technique to Breathe During a Burpee

A Burpee is a full-body exercise that can be intense and demanding. As it consists of several movements, it gets interesting for finding the right way to breathe. Proper breathing during a Burpee is essential to maximize performance and reduce the risk of injury. Here is the best technique to breathe during a Burpee:

  1. Inhale from upright position to plank position
  2. Exhale from the plank position until your chest touches the floor
  3. Inhale as you return to plank position
  4. Exhale from the plank until you have completed the jump and returned to the upright position

Goliaz Audios to Work on your Breathing

In our Fitness app, you can find different audios with which you can work on your breathing. Here you have 3 examples:

  • Breathe:  an audio that allows to train the breathing efficiency with an increasing degree of difficulty. Every time the athlete improves their performance, they will get a Personal Best.
  • Scuba Diver: a very demanding audio which alternates between intense cardio exercises with moments of holding the breath. In this audio, it is vital to use some strategy as the goal is to maximize the number of reps, but without getting so out of breath that one can’t survive the breathing moments.
  • Sea Raiders: following the same logic as Scuba Diver, but now the goal is to cover the maximum distance on a rowing machine, without the breathing getting out of control.


Breathing is a crucial aspect of sports performance, and a proper breathing technique can have a profound impact on athletic performance. By incorporating breathing techniques into your training, you can improve endurance, reduce the risk of injury and unlock your full athletic potential.

Changing the way you breathe during an exercise and combining the inhale and exhale with a special part of the movement can be a bit of a challenge in the beginning. Just like a new movement, it needs some practice until it becomes natural. Take some time to practice the way to breathe during exercise first slowly before you incorporate it into your workouts.

So next time you step on your mat, remember to focus on your breathing and watch as your performance takes off.

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