It is important to note that various muscle groups are recruited during the breath cycle to assist in respiration.  This fact should be taken into account when dictating a breathing pattern while performing an exercise to maximize desired muscle recruitment and offers the following benefits:

·  Oxygenate the blood and nourish the body on a cellular level

·  Improve circulation

·  Calm the mind and body

·  Encourage concentration

·  Recruit the appropriate muscles for the movements

·  Provide an “inner” rhythm for the movement

The breath cycle:

The action of the diaphragm:

Inhalation – the diaphragm lowers during contraction, enlarging the thoracic cavity.  This action results in the pressure inside the lungs being lower than the pressure outside and air is drawn into the lungs.

Exhalation – the diaphragm relaxes, causing a decrease in the volume of the thoracic cavity and an increase of the pressure inside the lungs.  To equalize the pressure to the outside, air is forced out of the lungs.

During “Lateral breathing” or “intercostal breathing” an effort is made to emphasize the lateral expansion of the rib cage. Part of the reason for using this mode of breathing is to facilitate and maintain abdominal contraction while performing exercises, particularly pertinent during inhalation. In an effort to maintain the abdominal wall pulled inward, emphasis is placed on lateral breathing with consistent inward pull of the abdominal wall.

As a rule of thumb, always inhale when lengthening (relaxing) the muscle and exhale when shortening (contracting) the muscle. For example, when performing squats, inhale on the “down” phase and exhale on the “up” phase and with a biceps curl you will inhale while extending your arm and exhale when you bend your arm.