diaphragmic breathing

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TravisS

Level 5 Valued Member
I don't have an issue diaphragmic breathing when at rest. I find myself doing it throughout the day. I have noticed that after some swings or other exercise where my heartrate starts to elevate that my body automatically resorts to chest breathing again.

Today I noticed that after 60 swings that my body starts to chest breath.... I try to force myself to belly breathe but noticed that my abs were 20-30% tense which makes it hard to do so. I also find it hard to relax those muscles when your heartrate is elevated.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to force myself to belly breathe when my heartrate is elevated other than to just slow down and practice it?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Travis, please try this: after each set of swings, immediately begin nose-only breathing - keep your mouth closed. When you can no longer nose-breath for your recovery, start taking longer recovery or stop for the day.

Please report back on how this works for you. I realize it may take you off your current timing for swings and recovery periods.

-S-
 

TravisS

Level 5 Valued Member
I'll give it a shot. I typically inhale thru the nose and exhale thru the mouth slowly trying to double the exhale length of the inhale.

I don't mind it taking me off of my timing.... It's all journey and all I have is time!
Thanks
 

Mikeperry

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Travis- great advice from Steve, try that!

Also, there should be an autonomic pause after the inhalation. If you inhale and exhale too quickly, you are basically hyper ventilating.

As you mentioned, There is some info out there ( via PRI ) that will have you focus longer on the exhalation to recruit your abdominals. I believe that they also teach that your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation.

At a certain point, you will have to switch to mouth breathing, its just how it is when you drive HR.

As far as training goes, find a rep number that allows you to maintain nasal breathing and perform some repeats of that number. Maybe you do 20 swings, rest :60 do some repeats. The key is to record your findings and slow manipulate the work to rest
 

Iron Tamer

Strongman, Speaker and Seeker of Truth
OK, point by point, here we go:
Travis:
"I don’t have an issue diaphragmic breathing when at rest. I find myself doing it throughout the day."
-It's good that you find yourself doing it. To improve, consider this: How much time and energy have you put into TRAINING yourself to have it be totally habitual, your default?

"I have noticed that after some swings or other exercise where my heartrate starts to elevate that my body automatically resorts to chest breathing again."
- I would not expect otherwise.

"Today I noticed that after 60 swings that my body starts to chest breath…."
- Not at 59 or 58? ;-) A natural response, especially if you aren't masterful at relaxed belly and full breathing, and if you breath sharp and tense when you swing.

"I try to force myself to belly breathe but noticed that my abs were 20-30% tense which makes it hard to do so. I also find it hard to relax those muscles when your heartrate is elevated."
- Try = effort. Force = tension. Belly breathing = relaxing. You cannot TRY to and FORCE yourself to RELAX. You are also attempting to practice a skill that you haven't mastered under physically stressful conditions. You are literally practicing making relaxed breathing more difficult to do.

"Anyone have any suggestions on how to force myself to belly breathe when my heartrate is elevated other than to just slow down and practice it?"
- Yep. Practice belly breathing and full breathing while in a relaxed posture and state of mind. When your subconscious associates deep breathing with relaxing, then you can use breath to relax a tense mind and a stressed body.

Building on what Steve said:
Can you swing and breath ONLY through your nose the entire time, during and between sets?

Mike:
"Also, there should be an autonomic pause after the inhalation."
- I don't think a blanket statement like that applies. Everything is subject to context.

"If you inhale and exhale too quickly, you are basically hyper ventilating."
- Hyperventilation has it's place in training. If you are in oxygen debt, it could make sense to hyperventilate, especially if full breath skill hasn't been developed.

"As you mentioned, There is some info out there ( via PRI ) that will have you focus longer on the exhalation to recruit your abdominals. I believe that they also teach that your exhalation should be longer than your inhalation."
- I am not familiar with PRI, but longer exhalations do tend to dramatically lower a high heart rate in my own experimentation. That doesn't mean you "should" do it all the time. It depends on the circumstances and the desired training goal.

"At a certain point, you will have to switch to mouth breathing, its just how it is when you drive HR."
- Yep. That point can get further and further into the set/session with dedicated practice.

"As far as training goes, find a rep number that allows you to maintain nasal breathing and perform some repeats of that number. Maybe you do 20 swings, rest :60 do some repeats."
- LOVE the nasal practice suggestion. Preplanning doesn't work as well as following the body's signals........which you covered with:

"The key is to record your findings and slow manipulate the work to rest"
-You have to know where you are before you can decide how to get where you wanna go.

In addition to mastery of relaxed/belly breathing mentioned above (which is a vital skill), here's something I'd like y'all to consider:
Chest breathing has been vilified. Belly breathing has been sanctified. This is a baby & bathwater situation that creates confusion, as evidenced by Travis' original question.

It also eliminates the third option, which I alluded to earlier: FULL breathing. I could get complicated with a description but to keep it simple for now:

a belly breath + a chest breath = a FULL breath.

Take in a big breath with both, maybe 85-90% capacity, then let it go. Don't force the exhale, just let it go. Repeat. Do it until you feel like starting your next set. That is stage 1.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I like this thread.

Tamer... I find the opposite in my experience: when I inhale longer and deeper (closer to what you call a full breath), and exhale shorter and without any effort, my HR drops quick by comparison. Thoughts?

Completely agree with "full breath". When I do this at rest, my brain is showered in something very nice ;]
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
I like this thread too.

I have experimented a bit with something a bit weird breathing related and am not 100% what's going on. I have kept nasal breathing while sprinting on my bike (say a 20sec sprint but not max max) - enough to breath quite heavily. I get to a point that my nostrils are sucked shut (and I can't breathe very well at all!) - and I am experimenting as to whether I can breathe through this rather than eventually gasp for breath (open mouth). I am wondering exactly what is going on - if it is just a pressure thing perhaps related to poor posture/breathing control (meaning I should be able to tame it) or if it is a pure oxygen deficit effect (meaning I have to take a full breath as Tamer so nicely explains).

It is also interesting (I finish my ride after the sprint) to nasal breathe once standing and intentionally drop my HR down quickly - say three deep breaths (diaphragmatic) but then notice while I am putting my bike away etc, how you still have a minute say where your body is trying to sneak some extra breaths or mouth and nose breathe. Though for those three deep breaths I find the inhale probably longer than the exhale, and I am not pausing - would be too much (probably faint?).

Yet the nostril suction effect still has me asking questions...
 

krg

Level 7 Valued Member
I find straw breathing (first one, then two, then three straws stacked) great practice. I do it while reading just before turning out the lights - great relaxation and breathing training.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Great thread, everyone. Tamer, a special thank you for responding in such detail.

Al, slowing your rate of respiration is likely going to slow your heart rate, whether you are lengthening inhale or exhale.

Tamer's point of having a relaxed practice in your life cannot be overstated - you must practice relaxing, something you cannot force, so that you have a reference point to try to reach for when you find yourself tightening up in an endurance session. You have to have experienced relaxation and learned to cultivate for yourself under good circumstances before you'll be able to do the same when your situation is challenging.

Tamer's points on breathing are also spot on, IMHO. I play brass instruments and also sing, and for these, I breath "all over" - I want to take in a lot of air. Belly breathing is the correct first step for anyone who has lost that ability, but it certainly doesn't need to be the last step.

Straw breathing raises your blood CO2 level, and this is good. Imagine breathing through 10 feet of straw - you'd never get any fresh air in because the distance is too long. The breathing practice that I, Peter Lakatos, and Tommy Blom all teach encourages raising blood CO2 levels through the specific techniques and practices we teach - more on that at http://OxyInside.com.

Travis, my advice, assuming you don't have this in your life already, is to find yourself a "soft" practice that includes a focus on breathing, or find yourself a soft practice and a breathing practice. And if you already do these sorts of things, well, do them more. :) Then look to see how you can bring the lessons you learn there into your strength training.

-S-
 

TravisS

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks for all the info everyone. I currently do not have a regimen for practicing my breathing but will start to do so.

I did 100 swings on Wednesday breathing only thru the nose but after just a couple sets of 10 I had to take about 60-90 sec of rest between sets in order to keep doing so.

I look forward to practicing this on my swing days.
 

Iron Tamer

Strongman, Speaker and Seeker of Truth
Al-
"I find the opposite in my experience: when I inhale longer and deeper (closer to what you call a full breath), and exhale shorter and without any effort, my HR drops quick by comparison. Thoughts?

Completely agree with “full breath”. When I do this at rest, my brain is showered in something very nice"
- let's look at the similarity instead of the difference: BOTH approaches keep air in the lungs longer than panting. Full breathing = Meditation. ;-)

Matt- The nostril thing has to do with the speed force of the inhale...you are creating a kind of vacuum. Can you slow the breath down? You'll likely decrease the nostril closing.

Karl- i do not and have never like straw breathing. I find it over complicates things. Keep the mouth closed and the tip tongue against the roof of the mouth where the front teeth come out of the gums. It negates the need for straws and brings the focus back to the movement (breath IS a movement) and off the tool (straw).

Steve: This is $$$$$ "I breath “all over” – I want to take in a lot of air. Belly breathing is the correct first step for anyone who has lost that ability, but it certainly doesn’t need to be the last step."
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Tamer, thank you very much for the kind words.

Matt, IMHO, the nostril vacuum you describe means you pushed your nose breathing too hard. I've done that, too - you're literally gasping for air, which you'd normally do with your mouth open. Slow it down if you can, of course, but maybe just don't push that hard to begin with or, if you do, just accept it and open your mouth for the first breath or two before resuming nose breathing.

-S-
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Steve and Tamer. I will experiment with a more controlled/slower "snort". I find it interesting that there are two things going on (it seems) - my autonomous nervous system telling me that I need a lot more oxygen for the sprint and thereby controlling my diaphragm to create the "vacuum" - and my mind deciding I want to keep my mouth closed. Obviously I'd blackout if I pushed the experiment to its limit.
 

Iron Tamer

Strongman, Speaker and Seeker of Truth
"my autonomous nervous system telling me that I need a lot more oxygen for the sprint and thereby controlling my diaphragm to create the “vacuum” – and my mind deciding I want to keep my mouth closed"

Why are you keeping your mouth closed? I am not saying not to, I am wondering your purpose.....
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Hi Iron Tamer,

To answer literally - I'm keeping my mouth closed to breathe through my nose. I was nose breathing one day my whole ride, then thought I would see if I could continue when sprinting (a bit like nose breathing when doing swings). Then I discovered the nostril suction effect, and wondered if I could breathe more deeply ie. have better diaphragm control/relax my diaphragm to counter this extreme suction.
Today I experimented again - tried breathing more slowly but that didn't help - the oxygen deficit is in control. Yet it only takes say one gulp (mouth) of air to neutralise the pressure and then I could nose breathe for a bit more but then the intensity dropped off and it was possible to breathe normally (nose). My inhalation was about 3 sec and exhalation 1sec max with zero pausing.
So just experimenting.
But to answer your (real) question - overall purpose was to practice nose breathing, and moreso in a more extreme situation where you "know"/feel that you're breathing. Not sure what I am achieving - yet it was interesting to me to experience the high pressure that prevented nose breathing and so I was curious about that.
And I guess experimenting after a high intensity effort with nose breathing to relax.
 

Mikeperry

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Tamer- great insight. As usual, the answer is pretty much "it depends".

Thank you for your contribution
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
I read somewhere that CO2 buildup is what triggers rapid breathing, not actual, physiological "need" for oxygen. (Up to an exertional point, obviously).

- you can test this a bit yourself by holding your breath for a while until you get those first twinges of "okay, that's long enough". At that point start exhaling slowly. Notice that you can avoid inhaling during a relatively-long exhale and remain in control.

-my half-baked hypothesis is that (at low levels of exertion) your body is screaming for you to get rid of CO2. As you begin the long, slow exhalation, gas exchange is continuing in your lungs because the blood flow through your alveolae are driven by your heart. So a long, slow, exhalation prolongs the gas exchange your brain is actually screaming for and makes it more efficient.

-because long, slow exhalations work so well during recovery breathing, I HAD to come up with some possible mechanism by which it functioned, so that's mine and deriding is is welcome but would still hurt my feelings if I had feelings.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Bill, I don't mind hurting the feelings you don't have - I think I'll enjoy it, truth be told. :) :)

Your half-baked hypothesis isn't totally off the mark, actually. But here's the bottom line:

Breathing is something we can control but only kind of, sort of. You can learn to change the rate your heart beats, but this is tricky and most people can't manage to change it much or consistently; you can exert complete control over most of your motor function; but how you interact with your breathing is somewhere in between those extremes.

That "somewhere in between" _can_ be changed - that's the important take away point here. You can literally reprogram the parts of your brain that control your breathing when you're not paying attention to it. I do this through my breathing practice, about which I've talked several times here and given a link to earlier in this thread. It's _way_ cool stuff, and it is, to quote a phrase often used around here, Simple But Not Easy. I just did my first workshop on this two days ago at the gym of StrongFirst Instructor Dan Crawley - thank you again, Dan, for hosting - and I'm looking forward to doing more of them.

I recommend you google "Bohr Effect" and do a bit of reading.

-S-
 
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