Tag Archives: Bench press

4 Ways to Breathe Properly and Reap the Benefits

Breathe in. And out. Breathing, oxygen is the foundation of our entire existence as air-breathing animals. Yet, we rarely pay attention to it throughout the day. I’m here to bring the importance of breathing back into your life! Breathing properly has an incredible amount of benefits, including:

  • A larger lung capacity
  • Lower blood pressure 
  • The ability to relax emotions and stress
  • The ability to relax muscle tension, cramps, and pain
  • The ability to push your exercise and strength farther 
  • Improves posture
  • Elevates mood and keeps you calm and refreshed
  • Fights off fatigue
Breathe

Breathe (Photo credit: PhotoLab XL)

Now those are just some benefits of breathing deeply and properly, the list goes on and on. Breathing is also a large part of meditation, where you can learn more about here. Okay, Alana, these are great benefits!

So, how do we breathe properly?

There are several different techniques for different situations, but in most circumstances, it is important to breathe deeply. Breathe deep in through the nose and out through the mouth. Depending on the situation, it is good to have your exhale be audible (such as when you are meditating or working out).

1. Breathing 101. Like I said, in through the nose, out through the mouth. When you inhale, make sure that your belly expands. Once your belly expands, fill your chest. It is good to inhale and hold at the top for as long as you comfortably can, then exhale through the mouth. This is the proper technique of breathing to get those benefits we talked about above. It helps to massage those inner muscles as well.

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and...

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and inhaling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Breathing for meditation. Again, if you want a more in-depth introduction or guide to meditation, go here. Otherwise, let’s go through a short version. We are going to do the same breathing (in through nose, out through mouth), but this time we are going to count. This helps focus the mind and concentrate only on breathing, which is a great practice for meditation. So, inhale for 4 counts, hold the breath at the top for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts. Do this for a few minutes. After a few minutes and you’ve gotten into a rhythm, expand your breath farther by using the count of 5. 

La méditation (Danse Odissi, musée Guimet)

La méditation (Danse Odissi, musée Guimet) (Photo credit: dalbera)

3. Breathing for working out. Believe it or not, breathing for exercise purposes is similar to the above techniques. But with working out, we want to exhale more forcefully. Often, when we exercise, we tend to gulp up short little breaths, and even hold our breath during a tough exercise. These are NO-NOs! If you want to get stronger, faster, and more capable, here’s how to do it: breathe in when you’re in the less stressful part of the exercise, and then exhale forcefully (so that others can hear it) out. This dramatic exhale focuses you and pushes you to complete the exercise. Make sure your inhales are deep–your muscles need oxygen, and if you deprive them of it, they will not work properly or as effectively!

photo (75)

Chris breathing through leg press

4. Breathing for stress relief. I know we allll need this one, so pay attention. We are going to do the same breathing techniques as above, but slightly changed to fit our needs. Let’s practice this breathing technique three times: inhale very deeply, fill up that chest and expand the tummy. Hold it…now exhale out forcefully making an “ahhh” sound. As you exhale out loudly, I want you to slump your shoulders with the force of it. So you’re bringing your inhale up, your posture nice and straight, then letting it all loose with a loud, stress-releasing exhale.

[Exhalation] Tomoe Shinohara as Sayuri

[Exhalation] Tomoe Shinohara as Sayuri (Photo credit: edmundyeo)

 

Keep in mind all the benefits this deep breathing can give you, and try to practice proper breathing at least ten minutes a day. If you are strength training, definitely put this to use if you want a better workout! If you keep practicing, you will notice your posture will become more upright, you will feel more relaxed, and in charge of your life!

Feel free to comment with any questions you might have. Cheers!

Work Those Push Muscles: Chest and Triceps Workout

So there are some workout match-ups that tend to be our favorites. One of those favorites is the sweet chest and triceps pair. It’s a great combination and leaves you exhausted afterwards (my arms are very upset with me now that I am typing). So Alana, you’re probably saying, why is it a good combination? Lemme spit some reasons at ya (not literally, come on).

Triceps brachii, large arm model - Muscles of ...

Triceps brachii

1. Convenience: being able to do your chest and triceps at once can really open your workout schedule. This is especially for the people who tend to try to workout every day or every other day. It gives you a few days to work on other muscle groups without worrying about overworking those muscles. Because ultimately, that will lead to injury. And that’s a no-no.

2. Effective: you’re going to get a much better chest and triceps workout if you work them together. If you’re doing it properly, every chest exercise you do will work your triceps a bit and every triceps exercise will work your chest. That’s just how our body works.

3. Power: it makes you feel huge. Think about the strength, effort, and power that goes into benching.

Anyhow, there’s a few reasons for you. Now let’s get to our actual workout. We have a few pictures for you of yours truly.

1. We started out with a super-set (one exercise after the other, no rest) of push-ups and triangle push-ups, working our chest in the first and triceps in the latter. You don’t need any equipment for this, so no excuses! Go until failure.

2. Our next super-set was incline chest press and incline pec fly. This really requires good strength and power (especially chest press). Unforunately, no pictures of us doing this. For chest press, you sit on the inclined bench, and push your arms straight up.

For pec fly, get in the same seated position. But start your arms out, like you’re going to give a tree a hug, and bring inwards (you tree-hugger!).

3. For this we didn’t do a super-set, because we wanted to spot each other for bench press. Personally, I’ve lost a lot of my strength, and can’t bench nearly what I used to (you’ll see low weight in the picture, the bar = 45 lbs). It’s just good to be there and spot for each other to get the weight up and getting help getting it down. We did decline bench press. Go for a good weight and, as usual, go til failure.

4. For our last super-set we combined triceps cable press and double-hand triceps extension. This really killed our triceps (in a good way!). For anyone uncomfortable with triceps exercises, I find that the cable press is an easy pathway to get comfy with working those triceps. You position yourself with the feet shoulder-width apart, facing the cable, and press down the steel triangle or horse rope down and bring your arms back to 90 degrees.

For triceps extension, grab a good weight and place behind your head and do vertical raises.

5. And lastly, to end our muscle workout, we did a cable cross-press. This will get a good pinching burn in your chest and triceps. We juiced out the rest of our strength through these. Always go to the end of your workout. Never stop pushing. Unless you feel sharp pains, THEN STOP. Stand away from the cables, grab each cable in each hand and cross over your hands.

For this entire workout, we did four sets of everything and pushed to failure. It could range from 8 to 100, it’s up to your body and your strength. We ended it with some excellent twenty-minute bouldering where Chris finished a new route that had been challenging him for weeks!

Please let us know if you have any questions! Cheers!