Breathing is important in all activities and for fitness – with the possible exception of pearl gatherers who dive without any autonomous apparatus. Following efficiency, effort timing, weather conditions, and other factors, each sport discipline has imposed its breathing style.
Sports can be classified into two main categories if we use breathing as a taxonomic criterion:
1. All sports that use the respiratory halt or blocking technique are included in the first category. The most common are force sports, such as weightlifting, gymnastics, bodybuilding, and athletic weight-throwing. In summary, we may argue that in this case, the anaerobic extreme is the one that causes apnea (blocking the thorax and respiration). The main benefit of diaphragm blocking is the temporary increase in the athlete’s explosive force. Additionally, a rise in the execution speed of maximum force efforts has been noted. The weightlifting snatch, where force and speed are implied simultaneously based on respiratory blocking, is the classic example.
This respiratory obstruction, which is unavoidable in the sports indicated above, has certain drawbacks as well. Among these, we may list high blood pressure readings in the thorax, abdomen, and skull, as well as high blood pressure on blood vessels with little vein feedback. Therefore, past short-sightedness can worsen as a result of the increased pressure inside the eyes. Varicose veins can also develop or worsen in the lower limbs. Work performed entirely under anaerobic conditions makes the blood vessels and muscles stiffer.
2. The second significant category includes sports that do not employ respiratory pause. We are now in the territory of pure aerobic effort. Typical examples include long and extremely long distances in running competitions, swimming, cycling, etc. The stress in these situations affects the cardiovascular system, increasing cardiac frequency and pulmonary ventilation while implying minimal to moderate muscular exertion.
A third classification includes mixed sports, which alternate between anaerobic and aerobic exercise. This is the case with competitive sports, contact sports, and rhythm-breaking in races over a medium distance. Apnea as well as effort without respiratory blockage are employed in the case of fitness since both aerobic and anaerobic efforts are present.
There is a general rule regarding proper respiration that states that one should breathe in during the come-back and out during the movement’s most challenging section (the positive or concentric course) (the negative or eccentric course). We may or may not have a respiratory halt or stoppage during these courses. If we do, it will happen when the course is most crucial.
The rule that accounts for thoracic dilatation is another breathing guideline. In this instance, breathing in is done along the path that permits thorax expansion, and breathing out along the path causes it to contract.
Breathing in through the nose helps to filter and warm the airflow in both situations while breathing out through the mouth is quicker and more effective.
It’s interesting to learn that the “shouting” we frequently hear during weightlifting workouts or competitions is the sound of forced exhalation.