Lift more weight and improve your conditioning: Hello, Diaphragm.

I'm going to keep this brief..

Most people engage in very shallow breathing; all in their chest. This is a mistake. You're short changing your performance.

I see it all the time..I tell people to take in deep breath to stabilize their core while lifting. Instead of taking air into their diaphragm, their chest puffs up and their face gets red. 

Taking air into your chest does not create any stability in your core nor does it allow you to breath through a heavy conditioning session as well as you could be. 

If you don't know WHAT or WHERE or HOW it works...watch this short video clip about your diaphragm. 

Now that you know what your diaphragm is, let's learn how to use it. 

The easiest way to check to see if you're using your diaphragm to stabilize yourself is to place your hands around your waist from a standing position. Then, I want you to take in a deep breath (from your diaphragm) and aim to expand your waist and push your hands apart. Your chest should not rise! 

Here I am, placing my hands around my waist. My hands sit right above my hip bones and I'm squeezing my torso. My thumbs are pressed into my back as well. I'm squeezing my waist.

Here I am, placing my hands around my waist. My hands sit right above my hip bones and I'm squeezing my torso. My thumbs are pressed into my back as well. I'm squeezing my waist.

Here is what my torso looks like when I take a big breath in through my diaphragm. Notice how far apart my hands are from each other? I'm still squeezing my hands just as hard as I was in the picture above but I have now filled my diaphragm with air and have pressurized my core. I felt my waist expand in every direction: Forward, back into my thumbs and out to the side (separating my hands). Also notice my chest: it's not puffy, not filled with air. 

Here is what my torso looks like when I take a big breath in through my diaphragm. Notice how far apart my hands are from each other? I'm still squeezing my hands just as hard as I was in the picture above but I have now filled my diaphragm with air and have pressurized my core. I felt my waist expand in every direction: Forward, back into my thumbs and out to the side (separating my hands). Also notice my chest: it's not puffy, not filled with air. 

This is a skill you should learn.  

So...

Give this a shot. Implement this test before you go to lift weights - stabilize yourself with your diaphragm.

You should also practice taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths during your conditioning. Don't default to shallow, chest breathing when you're getting gassed. "Breath into your belly". Put your hands on your waist to feel your torso expand. Inhale through your nose, down into your belly and exhale through your mouth. 

There is a reason I stand, keep my chest up and place my hands on my waist in the middle of a WOD when I'm taking a breather - it's to implement diaphragmatic breathing. 

Speaking of training.. you should come train with us. We know a thing or two about getting lean, strong and fast. 

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#BeThePelican

-Nicole Race, Co-owner St. Pete Strength and Conditioning, home of SPSC Crossfit

nicole@spscgym.com