The Most Efficient Way to Catch Your Breath

There’s nothing worse than being out of breath! You can’t breathe, your lungs burn, and you feel like your body is going to explode. It’s pretty common to run out of breath between sets or while running, but how do you catch your breath? Are you going about it the right way? Is there such a thing as the “right way” to catch your breath?

The Right Way to Catch Your Breath

Scientists at the Washington Western University set out on a mission to determine the best way to catch your breath after an intense workout or run. They tested two methods: bending over and leaning on your knees, or standing straight with your hands on your head.

The results of their study proved that the Michael Jordan method of catching your breath (leaning on your knees, bent at the waist) is the more effective of the two. According to the research, the doubled-over method helps to slow your heart rate by 22 BPM more than the other method goes. If you want to get your heart beating at a normal rate once more, the best way to catch your breath is to lean over and rest your hands on your knees.

Why is bending over the most efficient method of catching your breath? First of all, it pushes your diaphragm (the muscle that does all the breathing for you) into a position that allows you to pull more air into your lungs. The increased inhalation capacity helps to oxygenate your blood faster, pushing back the fatigue.

It also gets your abs in the prime position to push carbon dioxide out of your lungs. Every time you exhale, you get rid of more CO2 when you are bent over. The faster you get rid of the CO2, the less your heart has to work to keep the oxygen flowing to your muscles and organs.

As a final bonus, the bent/slumped over position sends signals to your brain that it’s time to “relax”. This turns off your sympathetic nervous system, the part of your body that is causing a spike in adrenaline and setting your heart racing at a hundred miles an hour. It turns on your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your body that helps you to relax and slow your breathing. By making this shift, you help your body calm down after or in between bouts of high intensity exercise, restoring it as close to the baseline as possible. Once you’ve calmed down, you’re ready for another burst of effort!

Why Does it Matter?

Does it even matter that there is a “better” way to catch your breath? Why?

Well, if you’re an athlete who is constantly running and jumping, the exercise can take its toll on you. Your consistently elevated heart rate can use up your body’s natural energy stores more quickly, leading to fatigue and exhaustion much more quickly.

But if you can catch your breath and return your heart to its normal rhythm more quickly, less energy is expended by your pounding heart. The same is true for any workout.

Think about it: when do you perform your best? Is it when you’re exhausted, drenched in sweat, and your heart is pounding, or when you’re fresh off the bench? You get better energy output when your body is fresh. So, if bending over and leaning on your knees can help you to get your body as close to your baseline as possible, it’s going to give you more power in your next run, sprint, or lifting attempt.

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