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.
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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