For many of us, the last year has been one of difficulty, uncertainty and confusion. It was like a tornado came barreling down each and every one of our lives, leaving us stranded without a paddle. This has caused many of us to postpone our fitness routines, not knowing how to get fit without a gym, trainer or access to certain foods or equipment. Today, you will learn how to use your breath to: improve posture; tone the core; improve blood flow and cardiovascular (heart) health while reaping many other benefits. So, what 2 types of breathwork are best for physical fitness?
1. Decompression Breathing (Vacuuming)
Decompression breathing otherwise known as “vacuuming” among many bodybuilders and fitness influencers, is a type of breathing that helps to improve posture, strengthen and tone the core by expanding the rib cage and tightening the mid-section. Decompression breathing is best done at the beginning of each day, especially for those of you who struggle with back pain, are sitting all day, want to tighten up the midsection or improve posture.
For the decompression breathing:
Begin by planting your feet shoulder width apart on the ground, standing nice and tall with your arms hanging at your side. Next, begin taking a long, deep breath in through your nose, expanding your rib cage as much as possible while you do so. Once you have taken a full breath in and expanded your rib cage as much as possible, begin to breath out of your mouth in a controlled manner, keeping your rib cage expanded as much as possible while “vacuuming” your stomach muscles inward towards your spine (think of bringing your belly button in towards your spine). Repeat for 20-30 repetitions each day and you will notice a massive difference in your posture and core muscles.
The key to this is to expand your rib cage as much as you can on the in breath and hold that expansion on the out breath while you suck your stomach (core muscles) in towards your spine on the out breath. Try to expand your ribcage even more with each breath in. This will give you a nice v-shape to your torso while also improving posture and tightening the mid-section.
2. Power Breathing (Wim Hof Method)
Power breathing, otherwise known as the Wim Hof Method (WHF) is a great form of breathwork to improve cardiovascular health and get blood pumping to the heart. Power breathing has also been shown to boost nitric oxide in the body, a key molecule that has many health benefits one of which is its ability to help muscle grow and repair.
For the Power Breathing:
Begin by sitting in a comfortable, upright position either on a chair or on the ground, alternatively, you can lay down on the ground. Next, begin by taking a big deep, powerful breath in through your nose, filling your entire torso with air making sure to fill up not just the stomach but the pelvis chest and back. Once you have fully inhaled through your nose, make a smooth transition to your exhale, making sure to exhale nice and gently until you have exhaled 75-80% of the air in your lungs, Repeat this for 30 breaths.
Power breathing is best done 5-10 minutes before your workout to warm up the body, boost nitric oxide and get your blood and heart pumping for the work to come. You can also do this in the morning before you take a cold shower to help with the breathing in the shower. You can learn about cold showers in past blog posts on our website.
There is also an advanced form of power breathing that includes breath holds. For this, please visit Youtube and search: Wim Hof Breathwork and follow along one of his many guided meditations.
Using both decompression breathing and power breathing in your fitness routine can have a dramatic benefit on your physical fitness, helping you: improve posture, tone (vacuum) the core, improve blood flow and cardiovascular health among many other benefits. So, next time you want to improve physical fitness, use your breath!
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