Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Take a deep breath

     Good morning everyone (or day/evening... whenever you're reading this). Sit back, relax and take a deep breath. In fact, take a lot of deep breaths. Today we're going to talk about breathing. All of you are alive right now, so the normal everyday breathing doesn't need to be discussed (one would hope). What we're going to talk about today is the breathing that take place when moving heavy things!

Deep breath... and lift!
     When getting ready to perform something like a heavy deadlift, or a monstrous back squat, we need our bodies to be ready to move these loads. To do so, we need an über stabilized spine and torso. So, to achieve this, we must pressurize the abdominal and thoracic cavities with a big deep breath.

      Many people may be under the school of thought that we need to contract our abs, and pull them in tight when setting up our lifts. However, this will reduce the amount of support we are giving to our spine. Think of this, from Greg Everett's book Olympic Weightlifting, "consider the structural integrity of a pyramid versus and upside-down pyramid."

Even the former Pres knows the importance of a stable spine
      So here's the how-to of holding your breath. You will draw in as much air as possible (lungs will be full) and the abs will be expanded (think about pushing them down). One you take your breath, tighten (not suck in) the abs and also tighten the muscles in the back. During the lift, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. To reduce the risk of "passing the hell out", you can expel a small amount of air with a quiet hissing sound (pssssssssst). Doing so will give you enough "air" needed to complete the lift, while keeping a tight and stable core. Does that mean we have to keep our breath held for the ENTIRE clean & jerk? Hell no! Big breath for the clean, and reset for a big breath on the jerk.

Clean and Jerk PR - 280 from CrossFit Deep Ellum on Vimeo.

     Take a look at the video below of Power Lifter Kelli Lambert. She gets her self set (minus the hook grip), takes a deep breath and keeps it held the whole time... to pull 330 lbs!

Women's Nationals 2009 Deadlift from Kelli Lambert on Vimeo.

     I hope you haven't been holding your breath the whole time.

3,2,1 Breath!

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