Understanding how to breathe when lifting is such an important fundamental that is often overlooked. Find out why it’s so important and how to properly breathe when lifting!

How to Breathe When Lifting | Burpees for Breakfast

How to Breathe When Lifting

WELCOME to the Capable & Strong Series! 

This series is all about strength training. We will be chatting about things from reasons why women should lift to suggested supplements to building a strong body and mind! And you can expect strength training workouts! 

Capable & Strong Series! | Burpees for Breakfast

Heeyyyyy! Happy Monday! Love how that photo accentuates my small rack! Hah, gotta love sports bras!

Today, as part of the Capable & Strong Series, we are chatting how to breathe when lifting. You might be thing, ‘Uh, Jen, I breathe 24/7. I think I know how to do it.’. Maybe, maybe not. Ensuring proper breathing technique and core activation is key when it comes to lifting, especially big lifts like the deadlift and squat.

Back at the end of last year, when I was having trouble with my SI joint area, my Chiropractor recommend I do some rehab exercises to strengthen my internal core stabilizer muscles. With that, he went over proper breathing technique. Doing those rehab exercises and focusing on my breathing was a huge part of my recovery and something that I make sure to include in my client training plans.

[bctt tweet=”How to Breathe When Lifting #capablestrong @fitapproach #sweatpink” username=”burpees4bfast”]


There are two parts to this whole breathing thing. The first is more simple: when to inhale / exhale. Inhale on the lowering portion of the lift. For example, with the squat, inhale on the way down. Same with push-up and squat and deadlift. Exhale on the up or lift portion. When you rise up from a squat or push-up or deadlift. Breathing this way can help increase intra-abdominal pressure and help improve your lift overall.


Here’s the meaty portion of the post, bracing the core. Now, I’ve discussed how to brace your core briefly on the blog before. Bracing the core is incredibly important for support and stability. When describing how I tweaked my SI to my Chiropractor, one of his responses was that I likely wasn’t bracing my core like I should have for the lift I was doing, which was probably correct!

To review, we have 3 groupings within the core musculature: local stabilizers, global stabilizers and movement system musculature. Within those groupings, we have more than just what we think of as our ‘core’. Remember that our hip flexors, quads, glute med and lats are part of the crew too. And these all play a role when we talk about properly bracing the core.

The same tips apply from the original post:

  • Pretend I’m there during your workout. Now, imagine I’m going to come punch you in the gut – you are going to contract those core muscles, amiright?
  • Stand upright. Tuck your pelvis and squeeze your glutes. Without moving your hips, move your torso from side to side, as if you are standing in front of a wall. You can do that, right? Now, move your torso forward and back, like you are sandwiched between 2 walls. Not bad? Twist your torso. Okay, now, try to move in all directions at the same time. Not so easy, right? Pretty impossible. THAT is the feeling you want when you brace your core.

To that, I want to add

  • fill your belly with air (Diaphragmatic Breathing, here), then blow it out and press your ribs down, while contracting your core muscles – squeezing your core, butt, ensuring you have proper posture and muscles are activated.

I think alot of times we think about ‘sucking in’ when we try to brace our core or contract our abdominals. When we ‘suck in’, we try to make our abs look pretty. While pretty is nice, it’s not what you want when you are trying to squat or lift heavy stuff. You want solid and stable. Talking about the Chiropractor again, he would say that he looks like he has a big gut when he squats because of how well he is bracing his core.

[bctt tweet=”Solid & Stable, Not Pretty. Talking Bracing the Core #OTB! #capablestrong #liftheavy” username=”burpees4bfast”]

Think solid and stable, rather than pretty.

Check out this comparison. On the left, I’m standing normally, post waffles for dinner. The middle, I’m ‘sucked in’, flexing my core muscles. On the right, my core is braced – belly is a bit bigger, but my muscles are activated and tight.

How to Breathe When Lifting | Burpees for Breakfast


Wearing a belt can be very helpful when doing a heavy lift like squat or deadlift, to offer that extra core stability. Since most readers are not power lifters, I like to use a lifting belt as more of a helper. I always want to ensure I’m properly activating my muscles and using them correctly, however, when I get into heavier lifts, the belt offers that extra stability.


Stay tuned for Friday. I’ll be sharing some specific exercises to help you work on bracing your core and building strong muscles!

Related: Core Exercises to Build Local Core Stabilizers


If you are interested in learning even more, you can check out these articles:

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How was your weekend?! Anything super fun?! Friday…I believe I was fairly lazy as my period FINALLY started. I had a client consult just before getting home from work. Saturday, the Hubs and I went for brunch at my favorite spot and had a pretty slow morning. I spent the afternoon at the salon getting my hair dyed BLONDE! Ah, such a fun color – perfect for summer! Sunday was all kinds of productive, getting ahead on things, doing food prep and more. We made it through just 2 episodes of Sherlock this weekend. Episode 2 was like…WHAT?! The Hubs was stumped, so I know it’s good! He always seems to figure things out!

Not too busy of a week ahead, but good things to look forward to, including a visit from a Thug on Sunday and a 3 day weekend!!


Do you have any favorite ways to structure your strength workout?
What did you do this weekend?!