I consider it as a related and continuation to my previous question. I am doing push ups daily for the past 2 months regularly without missing a day. I am doing 5 reps of 15 push ups. I have question here, I am not sure if I am doing it the right way. I am just holding up my breath until 15 push ups. I read somewhere in the internet about breathing techniques from pro body builders. Some say to hold breath, other say to inhale when going down and exhale when coming up and somebody argues that its that other way around.

So, I am confused with these multiple opinions/suggestions. What is the ideal way of breathing which is good for our health having no adverse effects while doing push ups.

  • Some fine answers posted. I'd like to add that the reason some hold their breath during a bench press set is to maintain tightness in their chest. A huge breath before you unrack the bar is the tightest your chest will be for the whole set. A breath while loaded - with the bar up and arms locked - will never get your chest as tight as when you took that initial, unloaded breath. I've tried both ways and have found I am able to lift more if I hold my breath for 3 reps instead of breathing out after each. It's not very hard and I haven't experienced any side effects, but everyone's different.
    – TestWell
    Oct 14, 2015 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


Yes, breathe while doing pushups. Conventional wisdom, as with most muscular effort, is to exhale as you're expending your effort (pushing-up) and inhaling as you move back (lowering yourself to right above the floor), but I personally find that, if you don't think about it too much, your breathing usually takes care of itself. It's worth noting that, probably due to the muscles involved, some people have trouble breathing normally during pushups, but you should try to at least breathe some.

Holding your breath during a heavy lift is generally known as the Valsalva maneuver and it has contraindications:

It's worth emphasizing that the Valsalva maneuver is only for short-duration, high-exertion efforts. The same technique that provided a core of strength for your PR back squat can become a serious headache—literally—when you apply it to a run-of-the-mill bench press.

Many beginners—and a few experienced lifters—stop breathing during repetitive, low-intensity lifts, either because they think it'll make them stronger, or because they just plain forget. An extended Valsalva maneuver like this can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure, bursting blood vessels in your eyes and forehead, causing headaches and temporary vision disturbances.


Not breathing at all seems like a bad idea, especially at high reps. When you bench press, you should inhale as you lower the bar and exhale as you lift it. So I would try inhaling as lower yourself and so on, but I would also try the other way around and see what feels best. If it feels good and you perform well, it's the right way.

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