Why Holding Your Breath During Resistance Training Can Hurt Your Back

Ever seen someone at the gym with a red face grimacing as they try to push a weighted bar into the air during the bench press? 

Have you ever strained to lift just a few more reps during the bicep curl and find yourself holding your breath to get that last little bit of motion?

Myth: Holding your breath helps you lift more weight

Truth: Breathing correctly helps you lift more weight

When physical exertion increases, it is natural for people to hold their breath. This is known as the valsalva maneuver. Your body wants to do this.

The problem is that it is not efficient and can increase your risk of back pain.

When you are doing strength training or resistance training, you will be more efficient if you inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift the weight.


For the bench press:

  • Exhale as you push the weighted bar into the air
  • Inhale as you lower the weighted bar towards your chest

For a bicep curl:

  • Exhale as your lift up the weight
  • Inhale as you lower the...
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