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Unleash your athletic potential with the power of the breath

Follow these simple techniques and you could increase your performance by up to 10% !!!

There are an enormous variety of ways to improve your performance, so many in fact that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

There are intervals of so many different types, strength training, cross training, nutrition, oxygen restriction or altitude training, low/med/high intensity training and so on.

There is, however, a much-overlooked simple method that requires zero equipment and it’s something we do all day, every day. Breathing.

Woman breathing hand on chest hand on belly

Whatever type of athlete you are, learning to breathe efficiently and effectively will have nothing but positive impact on your performance. All you must do is give it the time and respect it deserves.

I’ll give you a brief oversight into why I’m bringing this to your attention. I want you to picture what is happening to your body when you breathe, particularly in the shoulder and pelvis/hip area.

As you breathe in your rib cage expands, your pelvis tilts backwards and your shoulders roll back to give your expanding lungs all the room they need to fill with that most precious of commodities, oxygen. As you breathe out your rib cage compresses, your pelvis tilts forward and your shoulders roll forward too as your lungs expel that equally important commodity, carbon dioxide. (that’s a topic for a different blog entirely).

man running at sunset

Imagine having poor breathing ability and what impact that has on your movement capabilities knowing what you know now? Your rib cage, shoulder girdle and pelvis/hip area aren’t free to move as well as they can which in turn directly affects your ability to move in the most effective way possible.

Not only that but your lungs aren’t getting the maximum amount of oxygen possible transported to the very things that require it the most, your muscles. Thus, disabling your ability to move faster and more efficiently towards your next PB.

I know you may be thinking, ‘OMG this guy is going to teach me to suck eggs’. No but I am going to ask, when was the last time you trained your breathing?

None the less, I’ve got your back and will share with you some simple techniques to enhance your breathing potential.


Diaphragmatic (belly) Breathing:

Learning to belly breathe is a fundamental skill to learn, not just for athleticism but for everyday life.

  1. Using the diaphragm more increases the volume of your lungs, in some cases by up to 20%.

  2. Can help lessen or even prevent stitch as it becomes the bellows of the lungs instead of the lungs relying on the intercostal muscles of the rib cage.

  3. Promotes a relaxed state as more oxygen is transported around the body. More relaxed means less tension which in turn prevents injury.

  4. Improves the connection between the upper and lower body movements as it is part of the all-important core.

Click HERE to watch a video on learning to diaphragmatically breathe.



Nasal Breathing:

Now you’ve learned how to belly breathe it’s time to try and insert it into your training. No matter what sport you do, nasal breathing can become a part of it. Nasal breathing whilst exercising will encourage you to breathe much deeper and slower although this does mean you’ll slow down whilst doing it. This in itself is a positive as it will encourage you to train in Z1/Z2. As stated in this previous blog many of you possibly don’t train here enough. Hopefully this will help you do so.

All you need to do go for a run/walk, bike ride or use any kind of cardio machine and just breathe through your nose. I recommend running or cycling (swimming will be too tricky) as you’ll actually look rather insane when practicing this so an audience isn’t advised. Whilst you’re exercising you will experience the need to open your mouth and breathe, try not to do this more than 2 or 3 times during the session. It is uncomfortable but, as many a fridge magnet states, ‘GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE’. Instead control your desire to breathe by adjusting your pace. This may mean that you can only walk, so be it. The more you practice, the faster you’ll get.

Beware!!! You will produce a lot of snot. Another reason to go somewhere more secluded than a gym.



Do more mobility whilst breathing through your nose. If you can complete a full mobility session and control each movement whilst nasal breathing, you’ve nailed the movements. Mobilising your joints and breathing well are perfect bed partners in improved performance and activities of daily life.

Click HERE to watch a mobility routine you can attempt whilst nasal breathing.

So to summarise:

Better Breathing = #1 Better movement – #2 better endurance – #3 bigger lung capacity – #4 more relaxed running or cycling – #5 reduced injury risk – #6 better posture – #7 improved performance.

By consciously improving and practicing your breathing techniques, you can boost your athletic performance without the need for additional equipment. This often-overlooked method can be a game-changer, contributing to better stamina, enhanced recovery, and improved overall performance.

breathe sign

As they say, ‘It’s a no brainer’.

P.S. Try to increase the amount of nasal breathing you do during everyday life too.


In Fitness & In Health

John 'BREATHE BABY' Withinshaw

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