There are plenty of guides about heavy lifting which suggest to hold the breath to help brace the core.

Here there is an example with squat. Picture taken from here.

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Many people agree with this as it provides a great trunk stability. All the guides of stronglift suggest it.

However, I've seen plenty of other guides that say it is a big mistake. So, I've found only confusion.

For instance, here "holding the breath" is seen as a mistake in leg press:

Remember to keep breathing during the effort phase and to avoid holding your breath.

That is not the arbitrary conclusion of an author. Here, for instance, it is written that:

The act of holding your breath during weight lifting is referred to as the Valsalva Maneuver. While this may not sound like a serious issue, it can be. Holding your breath during weight training causes a rapid and dramatic increase in blood pressure. During the Valsalva Maneuver, intrabdominal pressure drastically increases and can lead to hernias. Other injuries can be caused by compromised areas of the vascular system and loss of consciousness. While it may be tempting to hold your breath during exercise, the most effective way to breathe during resistance training is to inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift the weight. This helps to control your blood pressure while lifting heavy weights.

One may answer that a good choice may be:

1 holding breath in heavy exercises

2 inhaling in the eccentric and exhaling in the concentric without heavy loads

But what does it mean in practice? If I do 2 sets of warm-up I breath as 2, and when I start heavy sets do I breath as 1? Or is 1 only suitable to lift the maximal?

  • A couple of really good similar questions: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/6337/…, and fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/15850/…. Check those out and edit your question with what questions you still have.
    – C. Lange
    May 30, 2021 at 18:53
  • @C.Lange the answers to the question in the first link are basically "don't breath/use the valsalva maneuver" and also "not breathing can cause hernias/passing out so maybe breathe" with varying numbers of upvotes. Is that to say valsalva is best? And is that specific to powerlifting type training? I've always been coached to breath through reps in olympic lifting
    – E.Aigle
    May 31, 2021 at 6:11
  • 1
    @E.Aigle, loading up a heavy barbell with 3x your bodyweight is inherently dangerous. You're going to be much more prone to injury if you lost bracing during the lift. It isn't so much "holding your breathe" it's bracing your core during a movement that loads the spine. A strong core translates to strong power output. I'm a fan of this video.
    – C. Lange
    May 31, 2021 at 12:38
  • The advice is varied because the audience is varied and it depends on what stage you're at in your lifting career and where you're getting information. If you go to a doctor and ask "what's the best way to get slammed onto a floor?" they'll tell you to just not get slammed on a floor; getting thrown onto a floor causes injury. If you ask a Judo master, they'll give you a 4-part lecture on the optimal way to get slammed onto a floor; and the health benefits from training outweigh any injury caused by being slammed onto the floor.
    – C. Lange
    May 31, 2021 at 12:43
  • We can discuss more in chat.
    – C. Lange
    May 31, 2021 at 12:44


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