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View Poll Results: Do You Hold Your Breath When Weight Lifting?

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  • Yes

    95 28.70%
  • No

    101 30.51%
  • Sometimes

    135 40.79%
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  1. #1
    Registered User parsec1982's Avatar
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    Post Why Powerlifters Hold Their Breath and Why Weightlifters Shouldn?t....

    Why Powerlifters Hold Their Breath and Why Weightlifters Shouldn?t....

    The act of holding ones breath and exerting is called the Valsalva Maneuver. During this state you create an air ball in your abdominal region by forcing air against a closed windpipe. This is actually a survival response that stabilizes the body and prevents injury under CERTAIN circumstances. For instance, our Stone Age ancestors in the absence of modern tools lifted tremendous objects using this technique, but ONLY for a ?FEW SECONDS?. Notice that this description is more akin to power lifting and NOT BODYBUILDING. So essentially this is a technique to be used for a short period of time ranging only a few seconds. Beyond these few seconds the abdominal air ball pressing steadily on the vena cava (a major vein) begins restricting blood flow to the heart and significantly raising ones blood pressure. And there are possible SHORT term and LONG term Repercussions:

    Glaucoma - Intraocular Pressure (eye pressure) increases significantly during the Valsalva Maneuver as compared to a breathing while exerting. And there is a connection between certain types of glaucoma and frequent changes in eye pressure. Therefore prolonged use of the Valsalva Maneuver for purposes other then that it is intended is not recommended.

    Headaches/Migraines - Abrupt blood pressure changes in the head (via improper use of the Valsalva Maneuver) can induce this condition. It is not very pleasant. Just Breathe.

    Ruptured Blood Vessels - Sustaining the Valsalva Maneuver can lead to blown vessels virtually anywhere they are present. The eyes and forehead are very susceptible. Once again is it worth it.

    Fainting - This circumstance would arise when not enough oxygen flows through the body and to the brain. And yes, under certain conditions this could even be lethal.

    So I will leave you with this. The Valsalva Maneuver can in fact help you lift heavier weights whether during regular Weight Lifting or Power Lifting. But understand its place and leave it where it belongs - IN THE WORLD OF POWERLIFTING. So remember, the next time your at the gym put your ego aside and show a greater regard for your own health. You and those around you will be safer for it.

    Safe Lifting,

    Tad Parsec runs www.MMAWarriorTraining.com which focuses on cutting edge combat conditioning for MMA Athletes and Enthusiasts. Come get your Fighting Edge.....
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  2. #2
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    Thumbs up

    Great article. Sometimes I find myself doing it subconsciously. It is very dangerous, however you're right about the heavier lifting. I did my max of 360 the other day on the bench and didnt breathe until i racked it. Afterword, I felt dizzy/lightheaded and now my right eye is red.
    Last edited by IrishMuscle99; 03-12-2008 at 02:16 PM. Reason: grammar was a tad off.
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  3. #3
    Registered User bcrocker's Avatar
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    i try to breath in while lowering n let out a power breath when i pick it up is that the what this is like or holding ur breath the whole time while lifting the weight?
    PV2 88 m national guard

    once u hit the bar and reach ur limits...pick the bar up and raise it higher
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  4. #4
    Styrkur og Sæmd UHCougar05's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by bcrocker View Post
    i try to breath in while lowering n let out a power breath when i pick it up is that the what this is like or holding ur breath the whole time while lifting the weight?
    Exactly. I rarely hold my breath for multiple reps on the squat or deadlift, but I do try and hold my air the entire time during the bench. I've blown the blood vessels in both my eyes during a meet and it gradually went away 10-14 days later.

    I will agree with the author, I don't really see a need for using the valsalva maneuver in bodybuilding, unless you are going for a max single.
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  5. #5
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    When i am moving heavy weight i am always holding my breath every rep, in between reps i breathe and hold it till i'm back in the starting position, it allows me to keep form but yeah, i've had pressure in my head and bloodshot eyes etc but nothing that isn't gone in 15 mins. Then again i am a powerlifter / strongman , when i do higher rep sets ( 4-20 ) i always control my breathing. Just when you go real heavy for a single or a double i might hold my breath.
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  6. #6
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    In Martial art, when they scream ''Aiiee'' or any kinds of noises. Strange pro boxer noise when they punch.

    Breathe in to the stomach using the diaphragm don?t just raise the chest. Exhale through the mouth plugging your teeth with your tongue and hiss while tensing the abs until a full contraction has been obtained. Rest and repeat up to 5 sets of 5. Pavel also recommends contracting your glutes and to tuck your tail under.
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  7. #7
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    I used to be the one to hold my breath while weightlifitng, I used to find it uncomfortable to breath while lifting, IDK why though lol. But it's good and neccessary to breath while lifting. I was taught to inhale and exhale a lot while lifting. I've been doing better ever since.
    I dont train for reps, I train for failure (love to see my body fail after my hard day's workout).
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  8. #8
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    Lol at the poll results. 33-33-31
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  9. #9
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    You forgot about hemroids!
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  10. #10
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    I hold my breath during each rep but take a few breaths between reps. The breath is held through the toughest portion until it's almost locked out. It used to make me feel like I was about to pass out after a hard set of squats, but now I can do a hard and heavy set ATG and not feel even lightheaded at the end of the set.
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  11. #11
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    Just like with anything, your body will adapt to this response.
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  12. #12
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    holding breath while lifting can also cause you to fart!
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  13. #13
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    Originally Posted by parsec1982 View Post
    Why Powerlifters Hold Their Breath and Why Weightlifters Shouldn?t....

    The act of holding ones breath and exerting is called the Valsalva Maneuver. During this state you create an air ball in your abdominal region by forcing air against a closed windpipe. This is actually a survival response that stabilizes the body and prevents injury under CERTAIN circumstances. For instance, our Stone Age ancestors in the absence of modern tools lifted tremendous objects using this technique, but ONLY for a ?FEW SECONDS?. Notice that this description is more akin to power lifting and NOT BODYBUILDING. So essentially this is a technique to be used for a short period of time ranging only a few seconds. Beyond these few seconds the abdominal air ball pressing steadily on the vena cava (a major vein) begins restricting blood flow to the heart and significantly raising ones blood pressure. And there are possible SHORT term and LONG term Repercussions:

    Glaucoma - Intraocular Pressure (eye pressure) increases significantly during the Valsalva Maneuver as compared to a breathing while exerting. And there is a connection between certain types of glaucoma and frequent changes in eye pressure. Therefore prolonged use of the Valsalva Maneuver for purposes other then that it is intended is not recommended.

    Headaches/Migraines - Abrupt blood pressure changes in the head (via improper use of the Valsalva Maneuver) can induce this condition. It is not very pleasant. Just Breathe.

    Ruptured Blood Vessels - Sustaining the Valsalva Maneuver can lead to blown vessels virtually anywhere they are present. The eyes and forehead are very susceptible. Once again is it worth it.

    Fainting - This circumstance would arise when not enough oxygen flows through the body and to the brain. And yes, under certain conditions this could even be lethal.

    So I will leave you with this. The Valsalva Maneuver can in fact help you lift heavier weights whether during regular Weight Lifting or Power Lifting. But understand its place and leave it where it belongs - IN THE WORLD OF POWERLIFTING. So remember, the next time your at the gym put your ego aside and show a greater regard for your own health. You and those around you will be safer for it.

    Safe Lifting,

    Tad Parsec runs www.MMAWarriorTraining.com which focuses on cutting edge combat conditioning for MMA Athletes and Enthusiasts. Come get your Fighting Edge.....

    Holdin your breath may help you get up weight but it is bad on your heart and cardiovascular arena to sum this up....main thing is to get oxygen into your muscles...any powerlifter/bodybuilder should maintain a good cardiovascular system.
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  14. #14
    Mr. Gecko Kiknskreem's Avatar
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    I find this article to be quite alarmist and one sided.

    Here's some good reading...

    http://strengthmill.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1107v
    http://youtube.com/user/Kiknskreem
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  15. #15
    Styrkur og Sæmd UHCougar05's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Kiknskreem View Post
    I find this article to be quite alarmist and one sided.

    Here's some good reading...

    http://strengthmill.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1107v
    Man, that Mark Ripptoe is a smart fella.
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  16. #16
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    Originally Posted by UHCougar05 View Post
    Man, that Mark Ripptoe is a smart fella.
    I believe its pronounced rippletoadz
    Consistency
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  17. #17
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    The article implies that people are suggesting you hold your breath for an entire set, and attacks this imaginary arguement. Classic strawman.
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  18. #18
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    i just read in the book "starting strength" that you shoudl hold your breath while doing a squat

    i tried to hold my breath today during exercizes.. and i found my heart beat was going crazy.. i already have somewhat elevated blood pressure.. so i was like screw this.. and went back to breathing normally and my heart went back to normall... i feel this is very dangerous for my health to hold my breath

    at what weights do they tell you to hold your breath?

    i dont want to injure myself from not holding my breath..

    but i also dont want to injure myself from doing so either..

    seems holding my breath was VERY bad for me.. i immediately felt wierd from doing it and my heart went crazy... beating all hard inside my chest

    so which is it?

    i would obviously rather not hold my breath if i dont need to.. but im afraid to injure myself squatting.. but then i again i guess this doesnt matter now because i can only squat the bar hehehe...

    but i dont want to develop bad technique for later..

    at which weights is it unsafe to breathe while lifting?

    i personally feel much better when im breathing...

    should i buy one of those belts instead or something?

    ive seen videos of people hodling their breath squatting and deadlifitng.. i held my breath and i didnt like it one bit.. can i still saftely squat and deadlift without holding my breath?]

    please let me know.. and if there is any advice for how to do so..

    i REALLY want to keep doing my squats and deadlifts.. and i REALLY want to avoid having a damn heart attack on teh floor from holding my breath again like that..

    also i read grunting is bad or something? i usually grunt on my last reps.. wtf should i be doing?

    doctors say breath in on contraction, and breathe out on the release phase..

    thats usually what ive been doing.. starting strength says holdy your breath.. im more inclined to listen to doctors.. but doctors are often known for reccomending people play with 5lb dumbels

    please help
    Last edited by audiognostic; 05-21-2012 at 12:22 AM.
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  19. #19
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    Originally Posted by audiognostic View Post
    i just read in the book "starting strength" that you shoudl hold your breath while doing a squat

    i tried to hold my breath today during exercizes.. and i found my heart beat was going crazy.. i already have somewhat elevated blood pressure.. so i was like screw this.. and went back to breathing normally and my heart went back to normall... i feel this is very dangerous for my health to hold my breath

    at what weights do they tell you to hold your breath?

    please help
    My anecdotal advice would be to use the valsalva method for max effort lifts and just do whatever feels natural for higher reps.
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    Originally Posted by Curlingrack View Post
    My anecdotal advice would be to use the valsalva method for max effort lifts and just do whatever feels natural for higher reps.
    what counts as a mx effort lift?

    lets say im doing sets of 8 reps..

    or lets say even 5 reps..

    is that a max effort lift?

    whats the most i can do without holding my breath?

    could you for example... squat 250 lbs 5 times without holding your breath?
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    Originally Posted by audiognostic View Post
    what counts as a mx effort lift?

    lets say im doing sets of 8 reps..

    or lets say even 5 reps..

    is that a max effort lift?

    whats the most i can do without holding my breath?

    could you for example... squat 250 lbs 5 times without holding your breath?
    Pretty much anything close to or above 80% of my 1 RM requires me to hold my breath. If I'm doing heavy sets of 5's, yes I will use Valvasa. I'd have to, the exception being maybe the last rep of a grinder set when midway through the lockout I'd scream to get a last burst of energy to finish the exercise. If I'm doing assistance/hypertrophy/accessory sets, then I'd just breath naturally. For example, (hypothetically) If I'm doing a set of 10's on the curls, I would just breath normally. Just for clarification though, I hold your breath during the movement, but breath between reps. If you learned how to do Valsalva properly and find you aren't comfortable with it after using it for a few workouts, just don't do it. At the end of the day, it's what's comfortable for you. As long as you have a safe an effective technique for breathing, it's all good. I myself prefer the Valsalva method when lifting heavy, though I did learn everything from Starting Strength.
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    Originally Posted by Curlingrack View Post
    Pretty much anything close to or above 80% of my 1 RM requires me to hold my breath. If I'm doing heavy sets of 5's, yes I will use Valvasa. I'd have to, the exception being maybe the last rep of a grinder set when midway through the lockout I'd scream to get a last burst of energy to finish the exercise. If I'm doing assistance/hypertrophy/accessory sets, then I'd just breath naturally. For example, (hypothetically) If I'm doing a set of 10's on the curls, I would just breath normally. Just for clarification though, I hold your breath during the movement, but breath between reps. If you learned how to do Valsalva properly and find you aren't comfortable with it after using it for a few workouts, just don't do it. At the end of the day, it's what's comfortable for you. As long as you have a safe an effective technique for breathing, it's all good. I myself prefer the Valsalva method when lifting heavy, though I did learn everything from Starting Strength.
    what the hell is the point of valvasa anyway???

    so if i do like 8 rep sets on squats and i dont use valvasa will i be safe?

    i havent finished starting strength yet.. long ass book
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    nice read, thanks
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