54445458Breathing is all the rage in the strength and conditioning world. With the widespread practice of DNS techniques and the accelerating spread of the PRI concepts it is becoming somewhat of a staple part of what is considered a good training program.

That is proper diaphragmatic breathing must be addressed in order to consider everything addressed.

"Proper what breathing? I mean I am alive right now so I must be breathing, right?"

Umm yeah your breathing, but most don't quite breath optimally and this could feed into dysfunctions both mechanically as in the way you move and the way you hold your posture and biologically in terms of how your body is operating.

I don't want to get into a diatribe about exactly how one should breathe and how one shouldn't breathe, well mainly because smarter people then me have already written tons on the topic and I feel I can add little to this area and plus it is all rather boring. However I will say that proper breathing resembles what a lot of people refer to as "belly breathing" and improper breathing resembles what people look like when finishing their 10th repetition of 100m sprints.

A short intro. to breathing properly is:

  • Deep inhalation through the nose.
  • Although the ribcage to expand up and laterally.
  • Your belly should appear to push outward.
  • The shoulders should not rise towards your ears
  • Long exhalation through the nose.
  • Although the ribcage to fall and compress inward as your belly deflates.

Although I don't diagnosis or necessarily try to treat dysfunction there are a number of recurring motifs I see in a lot of people I work with including the following:

1. Lack of anterior core stability.

2. In ability to flex shoulder completely.

3. Poor rotary stability.

4. In ability to adequately upwardly rotate the scapula.

5. Poor coordination with reciprocal locomotion.

6. Breathing with accessory muscles.

Due to this I like big bang-for-your-buck drills that offer potential improvement in a lot of these problem areas and with the addition of cueing proper inhalation and exhalation you create an exercise that can create some awesome improvements in how you feel and move.

One such drill I have begun incorporating into my own training as of lately has been the Bear Crawl with an emphasis on proper breathing mechanics. I have to give credit to Eric Cressey introducing this drill to me via the High Performance Handbook. It has done wonders for me and although it is not necessarily the best exercise to start someone out with in terms of working on proper locomotion and breathing with practice and repetition anyone can get good at it and reap it's benefits.

This exercise will help improve the following:

1. Anterior core stability

2. Breathing

3. Shoulder flexion range of motion

4. Ability to upwardly rotate the scapula

5. Improved rotary stability

6. Ability to move in all three planes

7. Locomotion mechanics

Below is a video of me demonstrating the exercise in it's entirety.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj5y30KoYsY

***Note the inhalation portion of your breath occurs prior to taking each step and the exhalation takes place once you have taken the next step.

Happy moving and heavy lifting!

Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training