This Fitness Trainer In Utah Says: BREATHE!

As a fitness trainer in Utah, I help my clients with a lot of things. Proper form for various exercises is, of course, high on the list, as is guiding them through nutritional questions and concerns. It may surprise you to learn that also ranking high on the list, is assisting clients learn proper breathing during exercise. Most people laugh when I tell them that I have to remind my clients to breathe, but I’m here to tell ya, I DO!


Believe it or not, there is a right way, and several very wrong ways, to go about it.  Some people think that simply the fact that they continue to breathe should be enough…not exactly. On the other hand, some people don’t breathe at all, but instead, try holding  their  breath, sometimes through entire sets! After reminding them to breathe, I tease them that I’d prefer they not try to make me look bad, I’d really rather not be known as the trainer whose clients all pass out due to lack of oxygen, thank you very much!! 🙂

Breathing is something that most people take for granted, in fact they rarely even give it a second thought.  That’s because it is a function that can be controlled both consciously and unconsciously. Unconscious breathing  is the type of breathing that you are doing right this very second; you are not actively thinking about inhaling and exhaling (or at least you weren’t until I pointed it out…lol). Our brains control our normal, everyday breathing patterns through specialized centers in the brain stem.  The rate and pattern of our breathing is automatically changed to match our current activity level or physical state in order to take in enough oxygen and remove enough carbon dioxide to keep us alive.

Conscious breathing, on the other hand, occurs when we thoughtfully control our inhales and exhales in order to create a more efficient exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide during physical activity. So, what is the right way to breathe when you’re getting your sweat on and why does it matter?

How you should be breathing, depends on whether you’re in the weight room, fitting in your cardio or sitting in a yoga class.  All three types of activity have different breathing techniques, but we’re only covering proper breathing for the weight room today. As far as why it’s important, well; see for yourself!

holdingbreathProper breathing during exercise:

  1. Makes cardiovascular training more efficient (Okay, I’m sold! As much as I dislike cardio, I want every fricking second to be as effective as possible!!)
  2. Helps with power, stability and mental focus during strength and endurance training (lifting weights)
  3. Encourages relaxation during mind/body and flexibility training (such as yoga)
  4. Prevents dizziness and shortness of breath during all forms of exercise
I’d say it’s important, how about you?

Breathing Technique in the Weight Room

Any good fitness trainer in Utah will tell you that when lifting weights always,  always, ALWAYS, remember to exhale on the concentric portion of the movement (the part of the lift that is hardest, i.e., exertion, your sticking point) and inhale on the negative portion of the movement (returning the weight to it’s starting point). Doing this ensures that you are not storing carbon dioxide, but rather, expelling it.  That’s a good start, but let me share with you a few more reasons that holding your breath, whether to get through a whole set or just the last few reps, is a bad idea. Holding your breath during a lift, especially a heavy lift, causes your blood pressure to sky-rocket as well as your intra abdominal pressure. You can see it happen, just watch people’s faces, the folks that aren’t breathing correctly, especially those that hold their breath, their face will turn bright red and veins start popping out all over the place. Increased blood pressure is not a good idea when you’re holding additional weight in your hands which is already putting a fair amount of stress on your body. In addition, holding your breath while lifting weights can also cause a heart attack, a hernia, stroke, dizziness and fainting.  However, done correctly, breathing can actually improve your lifts by bringing more energy and mental focus to your workout at a higher intensity.  Now that, is a win-win! Fitness trainer in Utah approved! 🙂

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