Believe it or not, there’s much more to this article than simply ‘breath in and breath out’. Although from the outset, this may appear a relatively basic, straight forward topic of conversation, you would be amazed how many individuals fail to grasp the importance of correct breathing technique when lifting weights.

Every guy has a lot to think about before even beginning to lift a weights. This includes selecting an exercise, an appropriate weight load, locating a space in the gym to complete the movement and ensuring that good technique is maintained throughout. With all this going on many individuals fail to consider their breathing. Not only can correct breathing techniques allow you potentially to lift greater loads or additional repetitions, it can also prevent serious medical implications. So if you’re in any doubt over your breathing techniques, it might just be worth reading on.

Weight Lifting Breathing Technique

The primary rule in relation to breathing techniques during weight lifting is to never hold your breath. Holding your breath whilst weight lifting is known as ‘Valsalva Maneuver’ and can rapidly alter the pressure levels in your body, potentially resulting in the following responses:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Nausea
  • Hypertension
  • Hernia
  • Heart attack and/or stroke

The problem most individuals have, as stated above, is with so much already going on with regards to the lifting of weights, the breathing techniques are often compromised. A simple, golden rule in relation to correct breathing techniques is to always breathe out, or exhale, during the exertion phase of an exercise. This exertion phase will differ depending on the exercise you are completing and the muscle group you are targeting. For example, during the chest press exercise, as you contract your pectoral muscles and move the weight away from your chest in an upward direction, this is the time to commence exhaling. This will simply allow for a pressure release in your body.

Conversely, during the eccentric phase of the exercise, in which the load will be moving in the opposite direction to the exertion phase, always ensure that you utilise this period to breathe in, or inhale. Again if we use the chest press example, this would take place as the weight is returned from an upward position, back towards the direction of your chest.


So in brief summary, during the exertion phase of any exercise you should always breathe out, or exhale. Conversely, during the eccentric phase of any exercise you should always breathe in, or inhale. Always ensure that your breathing is steadied and controlled and almost mimics the speed of your lifting. Applying these simple rules to all exercises will ensure that you are always breathing correctly during your weight lifting sessions.

If you are struggling to apply these principles to your training then you may need to slightly reduce your load until you can efficiently complete both at the same time. This may appear as though you are taking a step backwards in your training, but in the long term the following benefits can be achieved:

  • Enhancements in repetitions completed
  • Enhancements in loads lifted
  • Enhancements in the efficiency of completing weight lifting exercises
  • Reductions in the risk of serious injury