RPB Week Eight – Strength and Impact

Breathing for Strength

For maximum strength we want to make use of the additional muscle activation that breathing can give us.  While doing this we want to make sure that we don’t over breathe, as this will reduce our strength and endurance.  We also want to make use of our sense of internal force to make sure our muscle activity is balanced and co-ordinated across our body.

In general we will get the least strength while breathing in through our nose, next least while breathing out through our nose, more strength while breathing in through our mouth and the most strength while breathing out through our mouth.   Which type of breathing we will use during a particular activity will depend on how difficult the activity is for us.  If it is really easy, we should continue to breathe in and out through our nose throughout the whole activity.  If it is moderately difficult we may breathe in through our nose through the easier phase of the activity and out through our mouth through the more difficult part.  If it is very hard we will breathe in and out through our mouth throughout the activity.  If it is extremely difficult we may breathe out while moving and pause the movement to breathe in through either our mouth or nose while stationary as this requires less fine control for the postural muscles as they do not have to adapt their lengthening and shortening for the breath expansion and movement at the same time.

1-3 repetitions Inhale while stationary, exhale through the mouth during all phases of movement
3-6 repetitions Inhale through the mouth during easy phase, exhale through the mouth during hard phase
6- 40 or 50 repetitions Inhale through the nose during easy phase, exhale through the mouth during hard phase
40-50 or more repetitions Inhale and exhale through the nose throughout all phases of the movement at a relaxed pace that is comfortable for you

 

As a rule of thumb, movements which you can only to a maximum of one to three of, you will probably be best to inhale while stationary and exhale while breathing out through your mouth during all phases of movement.  For movements that you can do up to six of you will probably breathe in through your mouth during the easy phase of the movement and out through your mouth during the hard phase.  For movements that you can do up to forty or fifty of you will probably be best to breathe in through your nose during the easy phase and out through your mouth during the hard phase.  For movements that you can do over forty or fifty of in one go, you will probably be best off just breathing in and out through your nose throughout the movement, if you focus on breathing in or out during particular phases of motion or use your mouth to breathe during these types of movement you run the risk of overbreathing and reducing your cellular uptake of oxygen.

We will discuss what the hard and easy phase of the movement is for several common strength based exercises.  Once you have got the idea it will be easy to figure out which phase is harder or easier for other movements.

Exercise: Pushups

The easy phase of the movement is as you lower your body towards the ground, the hard phase is as you push you body away from the ground – pushing against gravity.  There are opportunities to pause and inhale at either the top or bottom of the motion if this movement is very difficult for you.

Exercise: Pullups

The hard phase is as you pull yourself up off the ground – pulling against gravity.  The easy phase is as you lower yourself back down.  There are opportunities to pause and inhale at either the top or bottom of the motion if this movement is very difficult for you.

Exercise: Squats

The easy phase is as you lower yourself down towards the ground.  The hard phase is as you stand back up – pushing against gravity.  There are opportunities to pause and inhale at either the top or bottom of the motion if this movement is very difficult for you.

It is a good idea to go through other strength based exercises or activities that you do from time to time and figure out what the hard and what the easy phase of the movement is.

Breathing for Impact

The muscle activation of breathing becomes particularly important for bracing the body against impact.

Exercise: Rapid Bracing

For maximum bracing begin by doing the exercises covered earlier to balance your muscle tension and get a sense of begin filled with internal force.  Once you have this feeling filling your body, inhale then exhale just a small amount of air tensing your body hard, compressing your internal force, exhale another small amount of air tensing your body again.  Repeat until you run out of breath and then inhale again.  Ideally you will aim for ten or more short sharp exhalations for each inhalation.

Repeat the whole process five to ten times.

This breathing exercise will get your body used to bracing rapidly with balanced muscle tension.  With practice your body will become like an inflate car tire.  The compression of the internal pressure and the balanced tension will make your body very hard to damage; the force from impacts will be easily distributed across your whole body.

If you are a martial artist or someone else who expects to experience regular impacts, you will probably want to practice this exercise while being struck or striking so that you can build up additional skill with using this type of breathing.

Practice Sessions This Week

This week we will begin each session by reviewing the exercises from last week.  This will help to get your muscle tensions balanced and to tap in to the effect your breathing has on each movement more easily.  The times for each breathing exercise is approximate, the idea is to explore different exercises and apply breathing for strength and impact to them.  You may want to try some other strength related exercises you know as well as the ones listed.  It is a good idea to try some of both easy and hard exercises so that you can try different breathing patterns to them.

  • Finding the Centre 5 min
  • Rise and Fall 5 min
  • Internal Force in the Limbs 5 min
  • Pressups – 2 min
  • Pullups – 2 min
  • Squats – 2 min
  • Rapid Bracing – 4 min
  • Balanced Breathing 5 min