What Strength and Conditioning Coaches Need to Know About Breathing

I hope I don't have to convince you that breathing is important. Aside from keeping you alive, the mechanics of this process play a big role in things like why I don't bench/squat/deadlift, single leg stance, and lower back pain. We can get really deep into this topic (that's what the 4A Health Club is for) but this is what Strength and Conditioning Coaches NEED to know about breathing.

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Redistribution of Airflow

Take a look at this picture of the diaphragm. We are looking down on the diaphragm here. The top of the picture is this person's back and the bottom, of course, is the front. We are going to break this ribcage up into four sections. 

  1. Top Right
  2. Top Left
  3. Bottom Right
  4. Bottom Left

Breathing in a Strength and Conditioning Training Program

For the sake of this article we are going to just label these with numbers (1,2,3,4)

This is what you NEED to know...

  • It should be pretty obvious to you that each quadrant has dramatically different setups. Some look bigger and stronger (1,4) others look tiny and weak (2,3)
  • Notice the ribs in #3. See how they make a hard, sharp turn in and really cut off the ability to expand.
  • Notice the angle of the ribs in #4 compared to #3. Obviously you will have to use your imagination to fill in the blank but the curve is far less sharp
  • Notice how far back the diaphragm goes in #1 as opposed to #2.

With these four points in mind, you should be able to conclude that #1 and #4 are most available to expand and receive air when you breathe in while #2 and #3 are more closed off.

Where I think Strength and Conditioning Coaches and Personal Trainers go wrong is when they try to complicate this.

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In order to re-position, restore or whatever you want to call it, you just have to open up #2 and #3 and close off #1 and #4. 

You need to...

  • Close #1: Right posterior shoulder muscles contracting will close this down. 
  • Open #2: Left Serratus Anterior will open this up
  • Open #3: Stretch this tissue; Massage work; Locking the other three quadrants up will create pressure in this chamber to push it outwards from the inside.
  • Close #4: Left abs will lock it down

The final piece of this puzzle is to create situations to make these four bullet points happen. That is what we professionals call exercises. 

What exercises can you use or create to accomplish these tasks?

It really is that simple.

ThisI'll be diving into the impact of breathing as well as the other components of high level performance during the Discover genMAX LIVE webinar coming this Thursday. Click the link below to get on the list for that event and check out the other free webinars we have coming up.

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Strength and Conditioning, Personal Trainer