### QUESTION ###
You recommend holding your breath on the concentric phase of a lift.
I have heard this raises your blood pressure. I’ve trained in the martial arts for over 40 years and have always exhaled on the concentric phase during execution or during lifting weights.
Please explain your reasoning in more detail. Thanks.
I love your program, BTW.
### ANSWER ###
I recommend holding your breath on the concentric phase of some lifts but not others.
I don’t recommend holding your breath on the concentric phase of the Squat and Bench Press.
Both lifts start with the weight at the top. You lower the weight first, that’s the eccentric phase. Then you lift it back up, that’s the concentric phase.
The correct way to breathe on the Squat and Bench is to take a deep breath and hold it BEFORE you lower the weight. That means you hold your breath during the *eccentric* phase.
Holding your breath before you lower the weight increases intra-abdominal pressure. This keeps your lower back safe. That’s why you should hold your breath at the bottom of the Squat and Bench too.
During the concentric phase you can exhale to release some of the built-up pressure. You shouldn’t hold your breath all the way up until the top. That would be too long during hard reps. You could pass out.
But you shouldn’t release all the air by exhaling quickly. That would make you lose all pressure, deflating your torso like a balloon. It would put your back at risk.
You should slowly exhale on the way up, by pushing against your closed glottis.
On the Deadlift, Barbell Row and Overhead Press things are different.
These lifts start with the weight at the bottom, not the top. Deadlifts and Rows start with the bar on the floor. OHPress starts with the bar on your shoulders.
On these lifts, you should be taking a big breath and holding it BEFORE you lift the weight up. You should be holding your breath on the concentric phase.
Once you’ve lifted the weight you can exhale at the top to release some of the built-up pressure.
But you shouldn’t exhale all the air out of your torso. That would put your lower back at risk on the way down. Keep some pressure in your torso to maintain stability and protect your back.
Once the bar is back on the floor (DL, Row) or on your shoulders (OHP0, you can breathe again.
This means that you’ll typically won’t hold your breath for that long. Most reps will take you less than three seconds to complete. Many only take a second.
We’ll go over the blood pressure thing tomorrow.
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