Proper Breathing Techniques for Interval Training

Breathing is something we all do without thinking about it, and that’s a good thing. However, when it comes to interval training, an exercise that combines steady cardio with sudden bursts of exertion, breathing becomes something you must be conscious of at all times. Aside from keeping you alive in general, breathing controls the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in the body and this is very important during a workout session.

Why Is Proper Breathing Important?

During exercises, proper breathing is important because it:

  • Improves the efficiency of any cardio workout.
  • Increases power during cardio training.
  • Aids in the relaxation of the mind and body during and after workouts.
  • Keeps you from becoming dizzy during strenuous workouts.

Side Stitches

Proper breathing techniques are important because it also helps to prevent side stitches. A side stitch occurs when breathing is not synchronized with the movements of the body during exercise. In-between the chest cavity and the organs inside it, is the diaphragm. As you breath in and out, the diaphragm moves down and up, respectively. Couple this with the jostling while, let’s say, running–if the movements are out of sync, a side stitch can easily happen.

What Not to Do

The biggest problem you will face when learning how to properly breath during interval training is shallow breathing. Shallow breathing happens when you take very quick breaths in and out. This can cause a number of problems:

  • Side stitches
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Fainting

How to Breath During Interval Training

Proper breathing will increase the amount of nutrients flowing through the body, providing protection from side stitches and increasing the results gained through your workouts. During your workouts proper breathing involves the following:

  • Consistent and paced breathing.
  • Exhale during the exertion part of the workout.
  • Inhale during the resting or return part of the workout.
  • Breath constantly – do not hold your breath at any time.

Cardio Breathing

Let’s stick with running for this one. As you run, you want to exhale as the left foot comes down to the ground and inhale when the right foot hits the ground. This will keep your breathing steady and in sync with the movements of your internal organs. If you breath in the opposite manner, the shifting of the organs and the movement of the diaphragm can easily cause problems such as a side stitch.

Strength Training Breathing

Let’s use a push-up as our example for this one. Once in the correct position, you will want to exhale as you push you body up from the ground and inhale as you come back down. Always exhale during the part of the workout involving the most exertion.

How Does Asthma Effect Proper Breathing Techniques?

For those who suffer from asthma, breathing can become difficult even when at rest. Interval training is a type of workout that really pushes your body to it’s limits with short bursts of extreme exertion, and this is not recommended if you have asthma.

If you do have asthma, you should look into workouts that allow you to keep a more consistent pace over time, as your body and lungs will be able to cope with it better than the high bursts required of interval training.


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