How to Breathe While Exercising.

Speaking of breath, this guy takes mine away. 😛

Our breath is important. This is true all the time, but especially at the gym. If you don’t believe me, try holding it for a few minutes and see what happens.

There are different schools of thought regarding breath and exercise. For heavy lifters, there are a myriad of esoteric techniques that are really beyond the scope of what most of us will ever need. But in a nutshell, the general recommendation is to exhale on the exertion (the hard part) and inhale on the easier part of the exercise.

Let’s look at a pull-up for an example. Pulling yourself up to the bar is the hard part – and so that’s when you’d exhale. Releasing back down from the bar is the easy part, and so that’s when you’d inhale. Generally, the hard part of an exercise is when you’re going against gravity. And the easy part is when you’re going with gravity.

Each repetition should be matched with a full exhale and inhale. This can help prevent hyperventilation, which often results from shallow breathing or from doing multiple reps per breath.

Breathing while exercising is so critically important because it gives your muscles the oxygen they need to operate. As such, do your best to take full, deep breaths that cause your belly to rise. Shallower breaths (like those that only cause your upper chest to rise) are not as effective. It’s also a wise idea to take these deep belly breaths with you through your day – and not just at the gym.

As a quick test, put one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest and breathe normally. Which hand rises more? Ideally, it should be the hand on your belly.

Many people hold their breath on the exertion. While this is a tool sometimes used in competitive weight lifting, it’s generally inadvisable for the rest of us. It can lead to immediate fainting and even accidental death. So, please, ensure that you’re breathing!

Bottom line: Exhale on the exertion and inhale on the easy part of the exercise with full, deep breaths that inflate your belly.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. I have to make a conscious effort to exhale on the exertion. For some reason, it is just natural for me to do the opposite.

  2. This post is very useful, Davey!
    I didn’t know that and, at the gym, coaches don’t usually explain it.

  3. I can’t breath at all while doing push-ups, something’s terribly wrong with me!

  4. It is really helpful to “blow it out” as you push or pull the weight. Much better, not to mention better etiquette, than loud grunts.

  5. Hey Davey, are there any tips on how to breath while doing cardio? Especially when running? I just started a running routine and want to start out right. Thanks!

    • Parikshit says:

      I’m a inter college athlete and I use this technique while practice… Like a run about 15-18 km a stretch so I use this 5 stride breathe 5 stride exhale you might not get even a proper 3 at first but later you’ll feel so much better!!! ;)�

  6. christopher says:

    this reminds me to breathe correctly-i experienced this few days ago on a 3 mile walk with two dogs-its not easy-especially when these dogs lunge and zig zag back and forth.breathing-inhaling/exhaling is no easy task-with being mindful of the dogs-safety is the key-breathing needs to become second nature.

  7. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% positive. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it