Breathing techniques during weight lifting

By Marwan / July 9, 2014

Hey Guys,

I am back with a new article this time we are going to talk about the proper breathing techniques when weightlifting.

It is not an article that you will see many people talk about in magazines as it is not a sexy subject, people prefer to read about supplement X or supplement Y.

But I can assure you it is another important piece in the jigsaw in the quest to build more muscle.  However different techniques are required for different exercises, it is no one size fits all.  Horses for courses as they say huh!!

So what is breathing so important and how to do it?

Breathing technique during weightlifting is one of THE most overlooked factors when it comes to bodybuilding.  It can a have a massive impact on your results.  Different exercises require different techniques.

When you inhale you let in oxygen into all parts of your body and we know how important oxygen is to life!

During my experience the OPTIMAL breathing technique is to hold your breath in during the lift and only breath out at the top of the movement.

This stabalises your torso (core) and allows you to lift more weight.  As you know having a strong core allows you to lift more weight as your body is more stable.  But that doesnt mean go and do 1000 situps per day as that won’t do anything to strengthen the core guys.

You can do exercises like planks, single leg exercises or general exercises on a swiss ball, but that is for another article all together.

So here are some breathing techniques for exercises below..

Breathing during squats

As you start to descent, take a deep breath so by the time you get to the bottom your lungs and diaphragm are full of air.  Explode up with proper technique and breath out.  Repeat for each rep that you do.

The reason you breath like this is to maximise the stability of the abdominal region.  Breathing out at the bottom of the lift will cause you to destabilise the core area.

Muscles need a solid platform for maximum strength and power.  This where your core comes into it.

This is what gives you the power to come up from the bottom of the squat.  I have found that if I breath at the bottom I lose concentration and my technique goes to bits which does not give me the power to perform the exercise properly.

Your abdominal region takes all tension off your lower back and stabilises you.

Breathing when performing Bench Press

One of the biggest reasons that people are weak in their bench is the lack of stability caused by improper breathing.  Losing stability means you cannot give your body a solid platform from which to lift the weight.

As you come down inhale fully, by around the halfway mark your lungs should be full of air, hold your breath at the bottom of the lift and DON’T breath out, doing so will destabilise you and change flatten the position of the shoulder blades.  The shoulder blades should be tight and retracted for maximum leverage.

Breath out when the bar is around half way up to give you extra power to finish the rep.

Breathing when performing Rows, Pulldowns, and Chin ups/Pull ups variations

If you have trouble feeling your back muscles during a lift then your breathing pattern has a lot to do with it.  The back muscles conract better when the body is full of air due to their anatomy.

You have to breath backwards when training your lats or they will not be in a proper bio-mechanical position to fully engage.  Read on….

During pull downs the proper biomechanical position is a fully retracted chest and an arched lower back so the chest meets the bar to fully engage the lats when it comes down to the bottom hence the need to breathe in when bringing the bar down.

When the chest is full of air and meets the bar this will activate the lats.  As you let the bar come up this is the time to exhale,

Crazy I know, try this technique out without any weight and feel the difference.  This rocks guys it is a HUGE tip.

For deadlifts the same principles as squats apply.

Breathing when performing barbell curls

So many people preform this exercise without proper form, they let their body rock up and down to lift the weight.  You need stable base in order to lift the weight.  So at the bottom of the movement inhale and keep your core tight, chest up and shoulders back.  For extra stability squeeze your glutes together.

Hold your breath until just past the sticking point but don’t let out all the air out as you want to keep some for the isometric hold of the weight at the top of the movement.

Breathing during Deadlifts

The proper breathing techniques for the deadlifts is similar to that of the squat.  You want to have the most stable base to launch from, at the bottom of the movement inhale, and brace your core by pulling your belly button to your spine.  Once you’ve done that you are then in a position to start the lift.

Don’t try and pull the bar up with your back you will do serious damage to your back nor bounce the bar at the bottom as it will pull you down with it.

Ideally you want to see a straight line between your glutes and your back a neutral curve if you want to call it.

It is important to have a stable base at the bottom as this is the most vulnerable point for your back.

Bend your knees and contract your glutes at the bottom whilst also keeping your chest up and only start to breathe once the bar is past your knees or past your sticking point.

Control the weight on way down, and keep your core tight.  Remember you build more muscle on the eccentric part of the lift.

So as you have learned how breathing techniques during weight lifting plays a huge part in lifting and getting stonger.  Your lifts will be safer and more effective.

I hope this article has been helpful guys, press the like button if you like it.  Leave me a comment below and let me know how this has helped in your training sessions.

Train hard and see you in the gym!


About the author


Hi, my name is Marwan and I set up this site to help skinny guys and girls just like you to end their frustrations and have the body of their dreams. I believe there are no limitations to what mankind can achieve.