Functional Breathing?

breathingJust the other day, during my workout, I heard a gentleman furiously growl at two innocent dumbbells during his set of bicep curls. As everyone looked his way in concern, I figured he was perfectly sane. Realizing that the weight seemed fairly heavy, allowed me to consider a few possible explanations. Was it because he wanted to “pump” himself up mentally as he completed his set? Did he just want to be heard for intimidation purposes? Or, was he driving his exercise through physical pain? Depending on the individual, either of these reasons seems plausible. However, which is physiologically appropriate?

The Valsalva maneuver is a popular term used by exercise physiologists to describe the action of an individual who forces resistance (weights) while having a closed airway or blocking of breath. Obviously, when the Valsalva maneuver occurs we realize something is not correct and unfortunately, breathing has become one of the most overlooked aspects of exercise technique. I can think of numerous times I have made this mistake in the past causing a light headed feeling on the verge of fainting. Usually when one grunts during a lift it is a sign that they have an ample amount of oxygen cut from the respiratory system. Since, the inhalation of oxygen is required by the brain to function as well as utilized by the heart to pump blood through all the systems of our bodies it would be recommended to start with lighter weight practicing efficient breathing before progressing to heavier weight.

Although grunting maybe a turnoff for gym newbies, if one must do it, be sure that it is not at the expense of collapsing on the floor.

TIP: Practice effective breathing! During exercise, the more oxygen we are able to consume and utilize the longer the time fatigue takes to onset.

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