Breathe Right or Suffer Part 1

Breathe Right or Suffer

          Breathing is something that people take for granted, but should be the first thing that we address when exercising (I mean we only breathe ~24,000 times a day, how important could it be?). If a person's breathing is not properly assessed and performed there is no doubt in my mind that their health and performance will suffer.

          Everyone assumes that the way THEY breathe is the way everybody breathes. Guess what? It's not. I'm actually surprised when people walk into my studio with a somewhat decent breathing pattern. Sooooo... what is a good breathing pattern? 

Muscles of Respiration

       A proper breathing pattern is one in which someone can properly use their diaphragm. The first 2/3 of the breath should come from the diaphragm and the last 1/3 should come from the accessory respiratory muscles (muscles of the thorax and neck shown above). A simple test to see if your breathing pattern is correct is to lie down and put one hand on your chest and one on your belly, then take a deep breath. If you pass there try the test sitting and then try it standing, each position will be increasingly more difficult.


If the hand on your belly moves more, then you are on your way to having a good Diaphragmatic Breathing Pattern. If the hand on your chest moves more, then you have what is called an Inverted Breathing Pattern.  If you pass it lying down but fail sitting then practice while sitting.

So What?

For those of you with the inverted pattern, you are probably thinking, "So what? Why should I give a S!@# if my breathing pattern is inverted?" Well here is why:


This figure is a great example how forward head posture can be degenerative to the body. For approximately every inch the head goes forward it adds (approximately) the weight of the cranium to the forces affecting the spine. 

This figure is a great example how forward head posture can be degenerative to the body. For approximately every inch the head goes forward it adds (approximately) the weight of the cranium to the forces affecting the spine. 

     In many cases, when a person relies on their accessory respiratory muscles to breathe, those muscles become tighter, pulling the head forward. As many people have stated before, "Where the head goes the body follows." When the head moves forward, the pelvis, for a couple of reasons, tends to move as well. One of those reasons is explained below:

     Another issue with using the accessory respiratory muscles to breathe is that it causes the rib cage to rise and move away from the pelvis. This can cause the the pelvis to tilt forward (anterior pelvic tilt aka pelvic flexion). When this happens people tend to walk around looking like Donald Duck which can cause all kinds of issues. We will get more into that in another blog. 

Remember that posture is the position from which movement starts and stops and if you start a movement from a poor position your movement WILL NOT be optimal. 



     Before you think about doing Vo2 testing, lung capacity testing, or strapping an altitude mask to your face and looking like a ghetto Storm Trooper, please work on breathing diaphragmatically. If you aren't reaching your full lung volume naturally why would you test it or use tools to improve it? All that is going to happen is that you are going to make a dysfunction worse! 

     Accessory respiratory muscles tend to produce more lactic acid, which the body has to work hard to buffer during exercise. By using the diaphragm, you will not only increase oxygen uptake but you can decrease the metabolic stress on the body, thus improving performance! 

Core Strength

    When training, think of the core like a soup can;  it's a non-compressible cylinder with muscles making up each side of that can. The bottom of the can (pelvic floor), the sides of the can (transverse abdominis), the seam on the can (multifidus), and the top the can (the DIAPHRAGM). These muscles play key roles in the blanket term used in the fitness industry as "Core Stability" (side note: I hate that term because 95% of people that use it have know idea what the hell it entails). When all of these muscles fire appropriately they cause the core to become stronger in an instant! So if you are not using your diaphragm properly, you are potentially missing out on some added strength. 


I hope you enjoyed my first blogpost! There is a lot more on breathing but I figured I'd cut it short for now. Stay tuned for more! 


-Ross Grande BS CSCS CHEK I NST in training


If you would like to know more feel free to call GrandeFit at 847-561-6113 or email me