Breathing Techniques for Weightlifters

Breathwork, often overlooked in weightlifting, plays a pivotal role in maximizing performance and ensuring safety. This article focuses on the importance of proper breathing techniques, particularly breathing out during contractions, in weightlifting.

Proper Breathwork

The Role of Breathwork in Weightlifting

Breathing correctly while lifting weights is crucial for several reasons. It helps in maintaining intra-abdominal pressure, which supports the spine during heavy lifts. Proper breathwork also aids in efficient force generation and stamina conservation, enhancing overall lifting performance.

Breathing Out During Contractions

One of the key aspects of breathwork in weightlifting is exhaling during the contraction phase of a lift. This technique, known as the Valsalva maneuver, involves exhaling against a closed airway, creating pressure in the chest and abdomen. This pressure stabilizes the core and spine, providing a solid base for the lift.

Studies and Expert Opinions

Research and expert opinions underscore the significance of correct breathing in weightlifting. For instance, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that lifters who used the Valsalva maneuver could lift heavier weights with better form. Fitness experts also advocate for controlled breathing to reduce the risk of dizziness and fainting during heavy lifts.

Real-world Applications

Many weightlifters have reported improved lifting performance and reduced injury rates after incorporating proper breathing techniques. For example, a powerlifter mentioned how mastering the Valsalva maneuver significantly increased their squat and deadlift weights.

Looking at the Big Three

Practical Tips for Breathwork in Weightlifting

Before the Lift Take a deep breath in to create intra-abdominal pressure.

During the Lift Exhale forcefully during the contraction phase, especially in lifts like the bench press, deadlift, and squat.

After the Lift Breathe out completely to release the pressure and prepare for the next repetition.

The contraction phase in weightlifting refers to the part of the exercise where the muscles contract, typically when you are lifting the weight against gravity. 

Bench Press

Contraction Phase This occurs when you push the barbell away from your chest. As you extend your arms and raise the barbell upwards, your chest and tricep muscles contract. This is the phase where you would exhale, especially when employing techniques like the Valsalva maneuver.


Contraction Phase In the squat, the contraction phase happens as you rise from the bottom position (the squat) to a standing position. During this phase, your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings contract to lift your body and any additional weight you are carrying. Exhaling during this upward movement can help stabilize your core and maintain proper form.


Contraction Phase The contraction phase of the deadlift is when you lift the barbell off the ground and stand up with it. This involves the contraction of the glutes, hamstrings, back, and core muscles. Proper breathing, including exhaling during this lifting phase, is crucial for maintaining intra-abdominal pressure and protecting the spine.

Incorporating effective breathwork, particularly exhaling during contractions, is essential for any weightlifter seeking to enhance performance and maintain safety. By understanding and applying these techniques, weightlifters can unlock new levels of strength and endurance in their training regimen. The contraction phase is critical as it is typically where the most force is generated, and proper breathing technique is essential for performance and safety.

Practicing the correct breathing technique may take some effort and several times to the gym, but once you've accomplished it will feel good.

Only the major three lifts were covered, but it need to be used on anecdotal lifts: curls, triceps, calves, and all other lifts you may be doing.

May the gains be ever in your favor!