The Valsalva Maneuver is a breathing method that involves holding air in your lungs by closing the glottis. It can be an effective tool in weight lifting routines.
Breath exercises can be a game changer. They can help you sleep, make you relax, and benefit your overall mental and physical health. But did you know breathing can also help you get swoll? Well, not exactly. But a breathing exercise known as Valsalva maneuver breathing might enhance your weight lifting regime.
Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of Valsalva Maneuver for strength training. We also have a step-by-step guide on how to do it during your next lift sesh.
The Valsalva maneuver is a breathing exercise you’ve probs already done without knowing what it was. In short, it’s when you breathe in and then holding air in your lungs by closing your glottis. BTW, the glottis is a part of the larynx that allows air to go in and out of your windpipe.
The maneuver is sometimes used by health care providers to help diagnose certain heart disorders such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). It may also help treat clogged ears by forcing air through your Eustachian tube and sinuses.
Outside of medical uses, the Valsalva maneuver can also come in handy during a workout routine. When you correctly perform this maneuver during a lift sesh, it may help you lift more by getting you a nice stable core and straight back.
Fun fact: The Valsalva maneuver is named after a 17th-century Italian anatomist named Antonio Valsalva. Grazie, Antonio!
Ready to Valsalva maneuver with us? Here’s how to get it right:
- First, a big breath in. Take a deep enough breath in so that your stomach inflates, but not so deep that your chest puffs outs like the hulk.
- Breathe out against your glorious glottis. Wondering wtf a glottis even is? Relatable. This is the section of the larynx that’s home to vocal cords — the part that lets air in and out of our windpipes. You’ll need to close it before you exhale against it. Doing this keeps air in your lungs, giving you a stable core to get a heavy lift in. You should have a pushed-out belly and tightened abs.
- Carry out your lift and keep breathing out against the glottis. This means you’re not letting air out as you perform your lift.
- Let it all out. Breathe out once you’ve completed a rep and returned to your starting position.
- Repeat. Take a nice, deep breathe and repeat the process each time you do a rep.
PSA: The air is being held in at the glottis, not the throat or mouth. If you feel tension in your face or sinuses, you might be doing it wrong.
- Core stability. Think of that trapped air as insulation, padding your core.
- Proper form. When performed correctly, the Valsalva maneuver can help keep your spine aligned during a workout.
- Lift more. With your core primed and ready to go, you boost your power mode, lifting more than you may normally.
- Prevent injury. Again, this maneuver stabilizes your core via pressure in the abdominal and thoracic cavities, giving you a chance to lower your odds of work out related injury.
Pro tip: Practice your breathing before working out. This can help reduce your risk of injury.
The Valsalva maneuver is broken into four phases. Here’s a breakdown of each.
- Phase 1. Breathing out against your closed glottis creates pressure. Inflating your belly and chest makes your blood move from your heart down your arms. This temporarily boosts blood pressure.
- Phase 2. As you keep the air trapped, our heart starts to pump less blood.
- Phase 3. Your heart rate boosts when you finally let that air out at the end of your rep.
- Phase 4. Blood quickly returns to your heart as your body begins to rest. Typically, this raises your blood pressure before it goes back to normal.
The Valsalva maneuver can be safe when performed correctly. However, there are some risks to be aware of.
First off, it can temporarily increase your hard rate and blood pressure. This means it might not the best idea for people with heart conditions.
Additionally, this breathing technique can put some pressure on your peppers. So, you should skip it if you have an eye condition such as retina damage.
FYI: Even if you don’t have a heart or eye condition, it’s a good idea to ask a health care provider or a certified personal trainer if you should make it a part of your regular lifting routine.
Also, you should stop using the Valsalva breathing technique ASAP if you have symptoms like:
- shortness of breath
Valsalva maneuver lifting is a breathing technique used to get your bod ready to lift more and in good form.
It’s pretty simple, you breathe in nice and deep (but not too deep), and you breathe out against your closed glottis, not your closed mouth. Keep it like this during your whole lift; let it out after you’ve completed your rep.
The Valsalva maneuver is considered safe overall, but people with heart conditions may need to skip it. It’s a good idea to make sure your doctor is cool with it before you make it your new thing.