How To Breathe During Squats

When you squat, it is not enough to just prepare yourself for a punch when you squat. This is especially true if you are wanting to squat using weights too. If this is something that you are wanting to do in a safe and sensible way then you need to make sure that you breathe properly.

For an elongated period of time, athletes have failed to incorporate the proper breathing techniques into their squats especially when they are lifting weights.

It is true that learning a new exercise can be really challenging in its own way, but you need to make sure that you are using the correct breathing techniques when you are performing newer exercises.

Initially, you might end up feeling frustrated and confused because you will find it tricky to marry up the correct breathing technique to the physical technique that you are trying to achieve.

How To Breathe During Squats

Let’s Look At Core Stability

Before we get into how to breathe during squatting, we first must examine core stability and the role that it plays when squatting. It is true that the quality of our movement when we squat is controlled by how stable our trunk is. 

In fact, athletes will think that they can improve their trunk stability by doing exercises such as sit-ups or even crunches. However, these movements will end up forming isolated muscular strength opposed to stability of any kind. 

It is important to be aware that there is a difference between strength and also the ability to stabilize. What does this have to do with core muscles? Well, when your core muscles are all working together they actually assist in keeping the spine in a safe position when we are moving.

This is why core stability actually has nothing to do with how many sit-ups you can do, stability is all to do with timing and also coordinated recruitment. 

How do you recruit your core muscles before you attempt a squat? Well, the analogy of bracing for a punch is usually used as a visual representation. Doing this can really help to increase the stability of the lower back area and doing this also locks it into a really good neutral position.

Turning on these muscles before descending into a squat position means that we proactively prepare the body to be able to cope with the load which we are attempting to carry. 

Breaking Down The Breathing Process

The classic analogy which is recommended for breathing when squatting is to breathe in on the way down and then breathe out on the way up. Don’t get us wrong, this method will work well for exercise that involves lightweight and also higher repetitions.

However, this breathing technique is not the best for attempting the squat - especially the barbell squat.

If you are squatting with a large weight that has a barbell then the general advice is to take a large breath and then hold it through the entire repetition. This kind of breathing is not normally necessary for sets that have a lower weight with a higher repetition rate.

When you are squatting heavy for a few reps then this technique is pretty crucial, and this breath should be taken in coordination with the cue to brace for a punch. This technique is what can really help us to drastically stabilize our core.

  1. Exhale - stand in position in front of the squat rack, and then grasp the barbell as it sits in the rack. Make sure that you exhale and lift the weight onto your shoulders.
  2. Full breaths - do this if you feel that you need to right before you start the exercise.
  3. Inhale - do this as you bend your knees to your lower body towards the floor. If you are trying to do a standard squat then you should make sure to stop with your thighs parallel to the floor. Alternatively, if you are performing a full squat then you need to lower your buttocks towards your heels so that your knees will be fully bent.
  4. Exhale - do this as you straighten your legs and go back to being in a standing position. Doing this will be the completion of a rep.

You need to make sure that you follow this breathing pattern as you continue repeating subsequent reps of this exercise. 

The Breath Test

The Breath Test

A great way to help you to learn how to properly breathe during the squat is to try the breath test. To do this you just have to place your hand on your stomach and then place the other hand on your side, near to your lower ribs. Then you should take a big breath.

If you have done this correctly then you should be able to feel your lower rib cage expand out to the side, and you will also be able to feel your stomach rise and then fall. What does this mean? Well, you will be feeling the volume increasing inside your core.

The science behind this is that taking a big breath will allow the diaphragm (situated just below the lungs) to contract and then this will descend towards the stomach.

The Diaphragm Functions In Breathing

If you are not breathing correctly, then you will never fully utilize the diaphragm. When breathing correctly, and then combine this with bracing the core then the pressure inside the abdominal cavity will be increased. This is due to the fact that the volume will no longer be able to expand. 

This is something that has to be done in a precise step-by-step sort of manner. If you brace first and then try to take a big breath this will ultimately limit how much pressure can be created. This is due to the fact that the diaphragm can’t fully contract and descend if the core is already maximally braced.

In Conclusion

The correct technique for breathing during squatting is something that has to be learned in order to avoid injury and to ensure that you are performing the exercise correctly. Breathing correctly when you are squatting will help your form and it will also help build your core strength too.

Kevin Harris
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