010419 Training your breathing part 2

010419 Training your breathing part 2

Proper breathing techniques are essential to any athletic endeavor and the learning of these skills correctly, right from the start, is an important first step to success in your athletes chosen sport. The introduction to correct breathing patterns properly begins on the first day, during the introduction to the sport, in the welcoming portion and continues onto the practice field or lifting stations.

According to Dr. Michael Yessis[1], “studies have shown that when you execute a skill, you hold your breath on exertion-during the power phase, when force is generated.” Holding the breath “on exertion provides up to 20% greater force, stabilizes the spine, and helps prevent lower back injuries. It transforms the trunk (and, in fact, the whole body) into a stable unit against which your hips, shoulders, and arms can move more effectively.”[2]

The underlying mechanism for potentiation of strength resulting from holding your breath on exertion relies on “a pneumomuscular reflex in which increased intralung pressure serves as a stimulus for the potentiation of muscle excitability. The true mechanisms of enhanced muscle excitability have yet to be studied.”[3]

Drs. Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky “recommended that breath-holding should precede and accompany maximal efforts, which should be followed by brief exhalation-inhalation, unless technical adjustments have to be made, in which case breath holding must persist. Exercise with submaximal loading may be executed with longer phases of normal exhalation-inhalation and shorter phases of breath-holding. Neither rapid, short hyperventilation breathing, nor forced maximal inhalation is desirable for production of maximal effort during any phase of lifting.”[4]


[1] http://doctoryessis.com/about/dr-yessis/

Dr. Michael Yessis received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and his B.S. and M.S. from City University of New York. He is president of Sports Training, Inc., a diverse sports and fitness company. Dr. Yessis is also Professor Emeritus at California State University, Fullerton, where he was a multi-sports specialist in biomechanics (technique analysis) and sports conditioning and training.

[2] Yessis, M, Dr., Yessis, Michael, Dr. Build a Better Athlete, Equilibrium Books

[3] Zatsiorsky, V.M. and Kraemer, W.J. Science and Practice Of Strength Training, Published by Human Kinetics

[4] Verkhoshansky, Y. and Siff, M. Supertraining sixth edition published by Verkhoshansky

Author: ActivelyFitSeniors

Danny M. O’Dell, M. A., CSCS*D is the co-owner of The Explosivelyfit Strength Training Gym, located in Nine Mile Falls, WA. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has a Master's Degree in Human Services and is a strength and conditioning coach in a local School District along with being a regular contributor to the Washington State Coaches Association magazine.