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Breath

Bear crawls on the turf.

We all know that breathing is very important in CrossFit, if not all physical activities. It is absolutely imperative to physical activity for the muscles to be oxygenated. In sport, ragged or undisciplined breath is a sure sign of fatigue. A fighter will notice immediately if the opponent is breathing through his or her mouth, the mouthpiece hanging from the teeth. In CrossFit, you can see a good example of breath discipline breaking down in a workout such as Fran when the athlete starts to take an extra breath at the bottom of the thruster.

Outside of the obvious methods of increasing oxygen efficiency through getting stronger, increasing VO2 max, or better technique, there are some specific breathing methods you can employ.

  • Training with a mouthpiece. ┬áThe real value of training with a mouthpiece is not that it simulates training at altitude (it doesn’t, and high altitude training is largely misunderstood anyway), but rather that it really forces you to be aware of your breath and to develop good breath discipline.
  • Maintain good breath discipline at all costs. Breath discipline for CrossFit is usually the idea of one rep/one breath. You only breath once for each repetition of a given movement. Going back to the Fran example above, proper breathing would be to breath in on the lowering of the bar and to exhale during the positive portion of the movement, especially when driving the bar overhead. In a workout such as Grace, proper breath is one breath for a full clean and jerk repetition, rather that one for each movement, ie breathing with the bar in a racked position between the clean and jerk.
  • There are a wide variety of breathing exercises derived from yoga or Buddhist meditation. Initially devised as a way to empty the mind, these exercises are great for breath control.
  1. Counting-breath in for a set count, hold for a set count, breath out for a set count, hold for a set count. For example, breath in slowly for 6 counts, hold for 2, breath out for 6, hold for 2, repeat. As you get better, use longer and longer counts. Avoid gulping in the air at the beginning of the inhale.
  2. One nostril breathing-close off one nostril with a finger (from the side, not plugging), inhale for a set count, close the other nostril and exhale for the same count, inhale through that nostril for the count, switch nostrils and exhale. Repeat for a set time. Once again, avoid gulping the air.
  3. Walking-attempting to walk an ever increasing distance in a single constant long slow breath (inhalation and exhalation) was a tool used by the samurai in Japan. One was considered a “real” samurai if he could walk the length of the Gojo Bridge (73 yards) in Kyoto in a single breath.

Breath control adds another level to your CrossFit training and sports competition. It also has large carry-over to any kind of stressful situation wherein one’s breathing rate might normally be elevated.

Please post thoughts to Comments.

A huge Happy Birthday to Somerlan, one of the notorious Earle sisters.

Big congratulations to Matt Z on his first muscle ups today.

And lots of love to Jasiri who is home from the hospital and recovering.

Workout:

Rest Day

2 Comments

  1. Great insight into an aspect of Crossfit that I hadn’t thought about. Thanks for making me think!

  2. Lots to think about here, Sam! I’ll have to see if I can remember any of this during a wod.

    Happy birthday, Somerlan!

    Yeah, Jasiri! I am so glad to hear you are out of the hospital. Now for a speedy, full recovery!

    And congrats, Matt Z!

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