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Resistance Training: Focus on Your Breathing to Help Your Heart

Facebook Live Recap | OptimizePMD | Wellness

Most people think of a heart-healthy workout as being cardio, which is completely true. Being able to elevate your heart rate to a steady state of anywhere between 60 to 80% of your maximum heart rate is going to give you benefits such as calorie burning, lowering your blood pressure, being able to lower cholesterol, and all of the awesome benefits that exercise can provide to heart health.

However, did you know that when doing resistance training (push-ups, air squats, etc.), how you control your breathing can make an impact on your heart health? Short Pump Brandon Rice explains. Watch the video below or recap on for a transcript. 

Resistance Training and Heart Health

Now, when it comes to resistance training, heart health can be a little different, because while you're doing resistance training, you're not going to increase your heart rate as much as you might be if you were say on the elliptical or on the treadmill. And when focusing on heart health, when it comes to resistance training, you're going to be focusing primarily on breathing.

When I talk about breathing, what we're going to try to do is avoid something called the Valsalva maneuver. And the Valsalva maneuver is basically if you ever had your ears pop, or you needed them to pop while you're on an airplane or you're going up in elevation, and you put your hand over your nose and you breathe out, and that is going to cause a pop.

Now, what that does is it's going to cause a little bit of pressure over top of your pericardium or the muscles around your heart. And while resistance training, you should focus on increasing the capacity of your chest to make sure that you have plenty of room for your heart to be able to breathe, keep it relaxed, and make sure that you can treat that heart just like any other muscle in your body.

Focus on Inhaling and Exhaling Correctly

While doing resistance training, it's important to focus on exhaling and inhaling in a certain pattern to ensure that you can give your heart the best opportunity to succeed. When we're talking about exercises, what we're going to be focusing on is exhaling during the stressful phase of any exercise and inhaling during the recovery phase.

I'm going to go through a couple of examples today, and hopefully you can be able to utilize this for any exercise that you're able to do at home to make sure that you can keep your heart healthy and strong for the rest of the year.

Lower-Body Exercises

For example, when you're doing a squat, there is the down phase and the ups phase, or the concentric and eccentric phase of each resistance training exercise. And while you're doing this, you should be focusing on exhaling during the stressful phase and inhaling during the recovery phase.

While you're doing a squat, as you're going down, or the more simple phase, you're going to be inhaling, opening up that chest cavity. And then as you come up or you're lifting that weight on the way back up, that's when you're exhaling and relieving that pressure on top of your chest.

So five quick squats, inhaling on the down phase, and exhale on the way up. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Easy phase, more difficult phase on the way up. And we're always focused on breathing. We're not holding our breath during any exercise to make sure that you can keep that blood flow going and increase that capacity of your heart.

Another example is a lunge. So we're going to do a static lunge, one foot in front of the other, making sure on the down, inhale, exhale on the way up.

And you're constantly breathing. It's a great way to get in that rhythm. Get in that momentum as you're going up and down to be able to relax and keep your heart as healthy as possible.

Upper Body Exercises

Last one, we focused a little bit more on the quads and the lower body push. Now we're going to focus on a little bit more of the upper body pull. So for example, we're going to focus on our hamstrings using a single leg RDL, as you go down is going to be the recovery phase, inhaling through our nose, exhale on the way back up, inhale on the way down, exhale on the way back up.

Just make sure that you're staying constant while you're breathing and making sure that you're really understanding what it is your body is looking for while you're doing the resistance training.

Quick examples of the upper body, simple pushup. On your way down, you're going to inhale. On the way up, we're going to exhale. So on our way down on, on our way up, inhale all the way down and exhale on our way up, making sure that we're breathing the entire time.

Rows. You can do this with barbells or dumbbells, making sure that you get in that good base position. Hips are back. Back stays nice and flat. Shoulders are at a good posture position. Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up.

Remember this is going to be a little opposite than what we're used to because we're pulling up and that's when we're going to be exhaling. So upper-body pulls are going to be a little different because we're going against gravity on the way up and make sure that you stay breathing.

Last one, crunches all the way on the floor, making sure during the stressful or on the way up, we're exhaling. Inhale on the way back down.