Situps and crunches can be challenging enough on their own, so don't hold your breath during exercise. While this may seem obvious, many fitness novices inadvertently hold their breath because they're so focused on performing an exercise correctly. Proper breathing during abdominal exercises will improve your overall physical fitness and may help you get toned abs more quickly.
Importance of Breathing
During exercise, your heart rate increases to ensure ample blood supply to your muscles. Your blood must be properly oxygenated to ensure good muscle performance, and proper breathing techniques can ensure your muscles are supplied with the oxygen they need. If your muscles don't get enough oxygen, you may feel dizzy or tired and you may experience muscle cramps.
Nose or Mouth?
During abdominal exercise, you can maximize your oxygen intake by breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose, then breathing out through your mouth. If you're new to fitness routines, it can be helpful to make an audible blowing noise as you blow out. This helps you remember to breathe and ensures you're not holding your breath.
How to Breathe
You should exhale as you're exerting yourself and inhale when you're ending the exertion and unclenching your muscles. When performing situps and crunches, inhale before your first rep, then exhale as you raise your torso. Inhale as you lower your torso back to the ground.
There's no denying that abdominal exercises are challenging, especially if you're doing them right. It can be difficult to focus on breathing and proper form at the same time, so consider practicing breathing techniques throughout your day. Take long, deep breaths and then exhale through your mouth periodically. This may help train your body to breathe properly during exercise. When doing ab exercises, slow down so you can focus on your breathing and then gradually increase your speed and intensity as you master basic breathing techniques.
- Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology; Gerald Audesirk et al.
- Abs on the Ball; Colleen Craig
- American Council on Exercise: Bent-Knee Sit-Up/Crunches
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.