How to Do the Farmer Burns Deep Breathing Exercise

A convenient core workout: Farmer Burns deep-breathing exercise can be performed anywhere and anytime.
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Martin "Farmer" Burns was a legendary wrestler and coach in the early 20th century. Burns was dubbed the "Grandmaster of American Wrestling." He became an integral figure both as a wrestler and a coach. Burns adopted a holistic view of athleticism contrary to the popular beliefs of his time. Breathing was a focal point of his practice and teaching. Deep-breathing exercises such as the exercise created by Farmer Burns help to engage important abdominal muscles, such as the diaphragm. The Farmer Burns deep-breathing exercise was a technique he used and taught to increase core strength, aerobic capacity and endurance, as well as to increase blood flow to internal organs.

    Step 1

    Stand tall and maintain proper posture to allow yourself to inhale at maximum capacity.

    Step 2

    Inhale slowly to allow as much oxygen as possible to fill your lungs. Simultaneously, contract your abdominal muscles and bring them back toward your spine.

    Step 3

    Close your mouth and throat to prevent air from escaping. Without letting any air escape, attempt to force the air out of your body. At the same time, expand your abdominal muscles to their full force as you try to keep the air in your body.

    Step 4

    According to Farmer Burns' book, "Lessons in Wresting and Physical Culture," hold this position for two to five seconds. In doing so, you will continue to engage your stomach muscles.

    Step 5

    Slowly exhale, releasing all of the oxygen that you had kept in. This will allow you to completely fill your lungs with fresh air upon the next inhalation.

    Step 6

    Repeat steps one through five for several minutes each day. In his book, Farmer Burns recommends gradually adding time to further benefit from the exercise and increase your abdominal and pulmonary strength.


    • If you are not accustomed to deep-breathing exercise, start slowly to prevent becoming lightheaded.


    • For added benefit, Burns offers the following recommendation in his book: self massage. While in steps three and four, massage your abdominal muscles for further core stimulation.


    • Know your limits. Deep breathing can be beneficial for a variety of health reasons, including stress reduction and cardio-respiratory health. Nevertheless, if you have any respiratory or cardiovascular issues, it is best to check with your doctor prior to beginning any deep-breathing exercise.

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