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Breathing – an Important Factor in Fitness

By Muscle Media


With the possible exception of pearl divers, who dive without any supplemental equipment, breathing counts in all sports as well as fitness. Each sport has developed its’ own breathing style according to efficiency, effort, timing, meteorological conditions, and other demands of the sport.  Using breathing as a taxonomic criterion, sports may be divided in three major groups:

Respiratory Stop or Blocking

  1. breathing Breathing-discus-Muscle-MediaThe first includes all sports that use the technique of respiratory stop or blocking. Typical among these are “force sports” such as shot put, hammer throw, discus, weightlifting, body building, and gymnastics. It involves the anaerobic extreme.   It imposes apnea, or the blocking of the thorax and impairing respiration. The main advantage of diaphragm blocking is the momentary rising of explosive force. A rise in execution speed during maximum forced efforts has also been observed. The classic example is the snatch of weightlifting in which the timing of force and speed are simultaneously applied during respiratory blocking.

This inevitable respiratory blocking also has some disadvantages. Among these are higher pressure values in the thorax, abdomen and skull.  There is also systemically extremely high pressure in blood vessels with low feedback through the veins.  Due to the rise in pressure inside the eyes, aggravation of any previous short-sightedness is possible. Also, varicose veins can either appear or worsen in the lower limbs.  Effort in exclusively anaerobic conditions increases rigidity both in the blood vessels in the muscles.

No Respiratory Stop

  1. The second major group includes sports that do not use a respiratory stop. This is the realm of purely aerobic effort. Typical examples are running, swimming, or cycling. Generally, the associated effort is over very long distances.  The implied muscular force is light, or medium at most.  The associated stress affects the cardiovascular system leading to increased cardiac frequency and pulmonary ventilation.

Two Techniques

  1. The third category includes mixed sports. They demand both aerobic and anaerobic effort and often requires the two techniques alternate. This accounts for most sports games and contact sports. In the case of fitness, effort with and without respiratory blockage may be used.  Correct respiration generally involves breathing out during the positive or concentric movement and breathing in during the negative or eccentric movement. Techniques vary, and you can have a respiratory stop/ blockage, or not. If we have it, it will occur at a critical point of the movement.

breathing Breathing-yell-Muscle-MediaDilatation of the Thorax

Another breathing rule to take into consideration is the dilatation of the thorax. In this case, breathing occurs when the movement allows the thorax to expand, breathing out during the movement that contracts it.  Breathing in occurs through the nose in order to filter and warm up the air flow.  Breathe out through the mouth to allow faster and more efficient exhalation.  It’s interesting to note that the “shouting” heard from many weightlifters is actually the sound of forced breathing out.

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