Breathe during squat

DJR Harris

Level 1 Valued Member
Could you guys please help me with how to breathe during strength squat? On ' Martial power ' video, Pavel told to breathe out when going down and breathe in when coming up,and he also mentioned this doesn't apply for strength training. As far I saw from his other kettlebell videos, breathe in when going down and breathe out when come up.
Any suggestions?

Steve Freides
ForumAdministrator
SeniorCertifiedInstructor

@DJR Harris,

This question is best asked on the forum, where you will undoubtedly get multiple good, thought-provoking, answers. I will reply briefly below but I encourage you to post your question on the forum - you may copy and paste my reply in if you wish.

I am familiar with the Martial Power video, if it's what I think it is, but I have never seen it.

There are two basic ways to manage breathing, anatomical and biomechanical. Anatomical means you exhale as your body gets smaller and inhale as it gets bigger, if you'll forgive a very simple explanation. So when you squat down and you're compressing all that breathing apparatus, you exhale, and you inhale as you stand up. Biomechanical is the opposite, matching the breathing to the task of heavy lifting, and therefore inhaling at the top or on the way down, having maximum intra-abdominal pressure at the bottom, and exhaling on the way up or at the top. Anatomical for something you need to do in a relaxed manner and/or for a long time, biomechanical when the load demands it.


-S-
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
This is how I teach:

The squat, much like the deadlift, can be done light, heavy, and in between.

If it's super light, like bodyweight squat or light goblet squat for mobility, it doesn't matter. Breathe easy to facilitate prying and mobility.

If it's light to medium, you can breathe in on the way down and out on the way up. (Biomechanical breathing match). This sets you up for kettlebell sets of swing, clean, squat, snatch, etc. Make the exhale a power breath on the way up -- forceful exhale against resistance, such as tongue against the teeth. With at kettlebell squat at SFG I, we inhale at the top and/or as we're going down, "hup" audible noise when starting the ascent, then power breathe the rest of the exhale as we're coming up.

If the squat is heavy, don't breathe at all. Take a big breath before the rep and hold it. So with a squat (i.e. barbell squat with a heavy weight on your back, or in front on your shoulders), take a big breath, hold it with the valsalva maneuver against a closed glottis, and don't exhale until you're back at the top of the rep. Stay tight, exhale, inhale, valsalva, and squat the next rep. This provides the most stabilization for your spine under load.

Some people like to combine the two for a barbell squat, i.e., valsalva for most of the squat and then begin to exhale with a power breath at the top of the squat. That's what you'll see at SFL and in the online barbell course. I think this works OK, but my preference is to hold the breath for barbell squats.
 

DJR Harris

Level 1 Valued Member
Thanks for your reply Anna; appreciate your explanation.
Then I should focus on doing heavy squat and deadlift with same breathing technique as I understand it's for keeping spine safe by bracing abs.
 
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Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
... Some people like to combine the two for a barbell squat, i.e., valsalva for most of the squat and then begin to exhale with a power breath at the top of the squat. That's what you'll see at SFL and in the online barbell course. I think this works OK, but my preference is to hold the breath for barbell squats.
@Anna C, while we're talking about different kinds of breathing let's also talk about different kinds of exhalation. Simply letting go of some air will reduce intra-abdominal pressure when the air is gone, but the act of releasing some air under high tension, e.g., hissing it out, can increase that same intra-abdominal pressure.

-S-
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
@Anna C, while we're talking about different kinds of breathing let's also talk about different kinds of exhalation. Simply letting go of some air will reduce intra-abdominal pressure when the air is gone, but the act of releasing some air under high tension, e.g., hissing it out, can increase that same intra-abdominal pressure.

-S-
Interesting... I never thought of power breathing actually increasing pressure to a higher level than holding it. Could that be true?
 

DJR Harris

Level 1 Valued Member
Then which one to apply for kettlebell S&S, Power vs Hardstyle breathing?
 
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Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Then which one to apply for kettlebell S&S, Power vs Hardstyle breathing?
Well, to my knowledge, these are the same. In on the way down, and out with forceful exhale on the way up. I would call that power breathing and/or hardstyle breathing. I have not heard of the breathing in the video you mention in the OP.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@DJR Harris, our purpose is to increase intra-abdominal pressure. These are all words for the same thing. Some people find they can stay tighter by holding their breath, others by hissing out at their sticking point, some even by some kind of grunt or yell. Whatever keeps you tightest is what you should do.

-S-
 

DJR Harris

Level 1 Valued Member
Thanks Steve and I find myself comfortable hissing like Pavel; just wonder if hissing will be applied during heavy deadlift or should I hold breath?
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Simply letting go of some air will reduce intra-abdominal pressure when the air is gone, but the act of releasing some air under high tension, e.g., hissing it out, can increase that same intra-abdominal pressure.
So I thought about this some more, and experimented, and discovered that it can be both ways... of course. You can close your glottis with no pressure (not a valsalva) or you can create tons of pressure with a huge contraction, or anywhere in between. Same with a hissing sound. You can hiss with almost no pressure, or you can forcefully hiss with a lot of contraction and pressure, or anywhere in between. Potentially, the power breathing can create more pressure than valsalva. I guess that's what Steve is saying about see what makes you tightest.

With other schools of lifting, it's simple: you hold your breath. But with kettlebell lifting like swings and snatches and cleans, it's a repetitive lift where you don't set the weight down, so you have to breathe while the weight is in motion. So, enter the power breath -- getting the tightness and spine-stabilization characteristics of Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP) during the exertion, without the breath hold.

This makes power breathing necessary for kettlebells. Is it necessary for barbell lifts like the squat? Well, no. But if you're really good at power breathing and it's your preferred method of regulating your tightness (IAP), then maybe it's the better the way to go.

All of this may be obvious to everyone else, but I had to think through it. Funny how much thought we can give to something so automatic as breathing.

Now for Part 2 of the deep dive.... Is IAP above the diaphragm, below the diaphragm, or both? Taking any answers...
 

DJR Harris

Level 1 Valued Member
So I thought about this some more, and experimented, and discovered that it can be both ways... of course. You can close your glottis with no pressure (not a valsalva) or you can create tons of pressure with a huge contraction, or anywhere in between. Same with a hissing sound. You can hiss with almost no pressure, or you can forcefully hiss with a lot of contraction and pressure, or anywhere in between. Potentially, the power breathing can create more pressure than valsalva. I guess that's what Steve is saying about see what makes you tightest.

With other schools of lifting, it's simple: you hold your breath. But with kettlebell lifting like swings and snatches and cleans, it's a repetitive lift where you don't set the weight down, so you have to breathe while the weight is in motion. So, enter the power breath -- getting the tightness and spine-stabilization characteristics of Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP) during the exertion, without the breath hold.

This makes power breathing necessary for kettlebells. Is it necessary for barbell lifts like the squat? Well, no. But if you're really good at power breathing and it's your preferred method of regulating your tightness (IAP), then maybe it's the better the way to go.

All of this may be obvious to everyone else, but I had to think through it. Funny how much thought we can give to something so automatic as breathing.

Now for Part 2 of the deep dive.... Is IAP above the diaphragm, below the diaphragm, or both? Taking any answers...
Well explained! Thanks.
But if I opt to do hissing during deadlift,how should I inhale and exhale?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@DJR Harris, after you've done a bit of these lifts, things will become more clear to you. I have yelled - no other word for it, really - while getting through the sticking point of a heavy deadlift.

Beginner technique, which some may stick with forever, is to inhale at the top about a 2/3 or 3/4 breath, pressuring your abdomen, keep that as you hinge at the hips, building up tension in order to pull yourself down to the bar, and then using all that tension - both what you created at the top and what you created as you lower down to the bar - to come back up. Exhale somewhere - on the way up, after you get to the top - doesn't matter. Then be sure to repressurize at the top for the next rep.

All this is well-explained in Pavel's "Power To The People!"

@Anna C, it's best visualized. You pull your diaphragm down but you don't let your belly expand, and you are increasing the pressure in the part of your body that's in front of your lumbar spine. Some stiffening will happen as your lungs fill with air, so there is an upper body component but in my mind, it's all about below your diaphragm, about pressurizing the space between that muscle and your pelvic floor.

-S-
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Well explained! Thanks.
But if I opt to do hissing during deadlift,how should I inhale and exhale?
Inhale either before you bend down to grab the bar, or after you bend down to grab the bar, before you get tight for the lift.

Valsalva: close your throat and create pressure by contracting all abs and all surrounding muscles. If you are wearing a lifting belt, don't push out into it, and don't pull your stomach in either, just brace hard and you'll feel the belt pushing back against your braced muscles.

As you come to the top of the lift, if you opt to do hissing, start as you come through your sticking point and continue to the top of the lift. Stay tight until the weight is safely back on the ground.

All that is pretty much what Steve just said, but I repressure at the bottom for the next rep.

@Anna C, it's best visualized. You pull your diaphragm down but you don't let your belly expand, and you are increasing the pressure in the part of your body that's in front of your lumbar spine. Some stiffening will happen as your lungs fill with air, so there is an upper body component but in my mind, it's all about below your diaphragm, about pressurizing the space between that muscle and your pelvic floor.
Makes sense, and I would agree! Thanks.
 

Bunn

Level 5 Valued Member
Now for Part 2 of the deep dive.... Is IAP above the diaphragm, below the diaphragm, or both? Taking any answers...
If it is IAP, it is by default below the diaphragm. Above the diaphragm would be Increased Thoracic Pressure.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
If it is IAP, it is by default below the diaphragm. Above the diaphragm would be Increased Thoracic Pressure.
This seems obvious now... Thanks. Anatomy is not my strong suit :)

I think it's possible for a trainee to take a deep breath and hold it, and even contract the abs, without really contracting the diaphragm as much as they could/should for IAP. It makes for a "big chest" feeling (and a little lightheadedness). But that's another rabbit hole to go down. In any case, it's another point in favor of pressure breathing -- it forces you to contract the diaphragm.
 
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