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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Breathing and Lifting

Breathing was taught to me from the first time I touched a kettlebell: breathing and specific ways of using my breath throughout an exercise. The main technique was to pressurize my abdomen and "irradiate" strength, especially when finishing overload sets. For the first several months I got a head rush after heavy sets of Swings and sustained exercises like the Turkish Get-up, but was getting stronger and staying safe.

Didn't everyone learn kettlebells this way?

A major revelation in my lifting was the introduction of Girevoy Sport. Right away I learned that the "hard style" breathing pattern (above) would not work for sets longer than 2 minutes. The next thing that took me by surprise was to pay attention to breathing cycles in the rest positions and use them to maintain pacing for sets of more than 2-minutes.

What is the difference between a breathing pattern and a breathing cycle?

A Breathing Pattern is a specific synchronization of movement with the inhale and/or exhale.

  • In weightlifting the use of pressurization and diaphragmatic breath patterning might include holding the breath through a phase of movement and release it at a resting point, or exhaling through the exertion. Under weight, the inhale often comes as a quick gasp with this pattern.
  • The counter-balancing pattern is anatomical breathing, more often seen in cyclic activities such as rowing or stretching, that pairs compression of the body with the exhale and extension with the inhale. This is an aerobic, continuous breathing pattern. The breath is not stopped, only sped-up or slowed-down.

One Breathing Cycle is the completion of an inhale and an exhale.

  • On a simple level, the breathing cycle uptakes oxygen for the body and releases carbon dioxide. 
  • More sophisticated exercise scientists consider the volume of oxygen uptake and maximum restoration of the lactate balance, connecting the breathing cycles with heart rate.

For a Kettlebell Athlete or any Weightlifter, breathing patterns and cycles are woven together. Of vital importance is when in the training the efficient pattering is learned. Success is more likely when the learner use technique-specific breathing patterns and cycles automatically.

Anyone who wants to take Girevoy Sport to a higher level must learn correct breathing at the foundation. For those who learned "hard style" lifting, it is important to commit time and awareness to re-pattern breathing in the rest positions. For maximum efficiency, my strong recommendation is to get one-on-one training with a certified Kettlebell Sport Trainer, such as myself.

For those who enjoy a group learning experience, check out
Ken Blackburn's schedule of Certified Ketttlebell Teacher training events :

The next IKFF Level 1 in my neighborhood, Lakewood, CO:
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 & 9th
followed by the Level 2 certification on the 9 & 10th.

For those intrepid athletes who want to jump in with both feet might contact Ken about doing them back-to-back. Look over the physical assessment portion before committing to this....

Best wishes to all for a great, safe workouts with kettlebells,