Breaking The Cardinal Rule
Have you ever felt dizzy or light headed during your workout? Has your face ever turned as red as a tomato? While taking a pause between sets to gather yourself from the unfamiliar feeling, do you ponder, what’s wrong with me? You know you are nutritionally charged and properly hydrated. You then dangerously continue to fight through the headache to finish another set. By the end of your workout you are probably dealing with a HUGE migraine and seeing spots. If this is you, more than likely your breathing patterns are not synchronized with your lifts.
The Valsalva Maneuver
Sometimes it is the simple, small things that matter most. Breathing properly is often overlooked, misunderstood, and is the most broken cardinal rule at any fitness center. Holding your breath during lifts is called the Valsalva Maneuver. Many beginners and experienced trainers practice this unknowingly. The Valsalva Maneuver is exhaling forcefully against a closed glottis, which is the entrance of the throat. Pressure is then built in the chest cavity, making it impossible for blood to return to the heart. Ever heard the saying “Pressure bursts pipes?” As the pressure builds up in chest cavity, the heart rate rapidly increases, compromising blood flow which could cause:
All Systems Go
What can trainers and enthusiasts practice to prevent being lightheaded or dizzy during exercise?
Synchronize your breaths with each phase of your exercise. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, as your resistance and speed of motion varies while exercising, your breathing patterns (inhaling and exhaling) should be just as controlled. With any lift, while going through a full range of motion, your muscles and joints alternate between two stages: The Eccentric Phase and The Concentric Phase.
Concentric Phase (Exhale) - is the shortening of the joint or muscle, when the muscle is overcoming the resistance. Example: Barbell Bicep Curl-Starting with the arm completely straight as you bring the weight (or hand) towards your shoulder the bicep is contracting bringing the weight towards the body. During this exertion phase you are exhaling. Keep in mind each breath should be as controlled as the lift.
Eccentric Phase (Inhale) - is the elongating, the extending of the joint or muscle, or lowering the weight away from the body. Example: Barbell Bicep Curl-During this stage you are lowering the weight (the hand), extending the muscle, and joint back to the elongated position, inhaling throughout the motion.
For beginners, proper breathing habits should be practiced while learning proper lifting techniques with lighter weights. Breathing properly is essential as it takes that unnecessary pressure off the body, maximizing oxygen flow to the target muscles, and the body.
While synchronizing your breathing, remember control the weight. During any given exercise, your gains are reduced by tossing the weight, relying on momentum, or using poor technique.