Learning how to breathe when you’re doing your kettlebell workouts is a key technique and absolutely essential if you’re looking to get stronger and break PRs. Don’t be easily fooled though, breathing this way isn’t as easy as, well…breathing. It takes practice and requires you to get your Zen on and be mindful of what you’re doing.
OK, so just go with me on this.
Stand up with your back straight.
Find your sternum with your left hand (your sternum is your breast plate bone that sits vertically down your chest separating it into 2 halves).
Run your fingers down your sternum until you get to the bottom and now move your fingers down your ribcage about 4-6 inches.
Now for the fun part. Gently try to dig your fingers underneath your rib cage. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt and it will only be for a couple of seconds.
Now take a deep breath through your nose and as you’re breathing think about pushing the air down past your abdomen and into crotch (no seriously…and it’s just an analogy to get the point across).
Notice how your fingers get pushed out as your entire body takes in air? Good.
OK, keep the air in your body.
Now, place both hands across your abs and notice how hard your midsection is.
Still with me? Now press your tongue to the roof of your mouth behind your teeth and “HISSSS” the air out still keeping your hands on your abs.
Was your abdomen still rock hard as you were hissing the air out?
It should have been.
This method of breathing – what Pavel calls “breathing behind the shield” – is one of the secret “ninja” techniques of Hardstyle Training.
It allows us to create inter-abdominal pressure to help stabilize our spine AND to prevent any leaks in the chain…
…Because, as you know, performing pistols and presses are not just respective lower body and upper body exercises – they’re BOTH full body exercises.
You need that linkage to be able to perform them efficiently and correctly.
Now try to apply this “shield” breathing to your presses and pistols.
For presses, you’d want to take this type of breathe as you catch the kettlebell after you clean it. So you’re tight and braced while you’re in the rack position. As you press the bell overhead, “HISSSSSS” the air out until you get to lockout.
When you get to lockout, DO NOT let all the air out. Instead, take little sips of air in to recreate the tension in your midsection.
Now “pull” the bell back down from lockout “HISSSSING” all the way back down to the rack.
Reclean the bell and repeat with the other arm.
For pistols, the breathing is somewhat the same…
Take your power breath while you are standing.
Now slowly lower yourself under control as you “HISSSSS” the air out.
Once you hit the bottom of the pistol, sip some air back in to restabilize.
Now “HISSSSS” the air back out as you get back up to standing.
Exhale and repeat for the next rep.
Breathing this way will allow you to recruit every muscle in your body to help you with the task at hand. It makes things much more intense when you train and as a result – unless you have the strength & conditioning of a superhero – you’ll only be able to do 1-6 reps of any given exercise.
Be alright with that because, remember, this is about PRACTICE, NOT working out.
And if your goal is to get stronger, then this is the mentality you need to have.
So do me a favor and give this power breathing stuff a try, and then if you don’t mind, either “Like” this post on Facebook and let me know how it worked out for you, or leave me a comment below.
Tomorrow, I’ll have a great article that emphasizes the whole “Practice, don’t workout” philosophy and how the same methods are being used by Olympic Gymnasts to win Gold Medals.