Help with diaphragmatic breathing?

Ivan

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Hi. Over the past few months I have tailored my gym routine to be more strength, rather than hypertrophy based, so that I can combine all of my training towards a common goal rather than keeping gym and martial arts separate.

During my breaks between reps, I do my best to practice diaphragmatic breathing, especially when I am tired, as I read that this is one of the fastest ways to recover your breathing and energy, and also a good habit to practice after every sparring round.

However, although I am positive that I am breathing correctly (I can feel my floating ribs expanding when I belly breathe) I simply am unable to take as deep a breath as I would like. Breathing normally with my chest, I feel that I am able to take in almost twice as much air if not more. So how would belly breathing be more effective if I am taking in less air, especially if I just breathe normally but slow and controlled?

Do you guys think that perhaps my breathing technique is wrong? Or do I just need more practice to increase my capacity? Thanks to all of you for your support!
 

Argus

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Hi. Over the past few months I have tailored my gym routine to be more strength, rather than hypertrophy based, so that I can combine all of my training towards a common goal rather than keeping gym and martial arts separate.

During my breaks between reps, I do my best to practice diaphragmatic breathing, especially when I am tired, as I read that this is one of the fastest ways to recover your breathing and energy, and also a good habit to practice after every sparring round.

However, although I am positive that I am breathing correctly (I can feel my floating ribs expanding when I belly breathe) I simply am unable to take as deep a breath as I would like. Breathing normally with my chest, I feel that I am able to take in almost twice as much air if not more. So how would belly breathing be more effective if I am taking in less air, especially if I just breathe normally but slow and controlled?

Do you guys think that perhaps my breathing technique is wrong? Or do I just need more practice to increase my capacity? Thanks to all of you for your support!

One thing is to make sure you are exhaling all of the air, especially that in your stomach. If you only exhale the air in your chest, you'll only be able to fill the chest up.

Also, a question for you:
Do you have GERD/Acid Reflux, and/or any sensitivity right under your chest where your ribs meet? I battle with bad bouts of GERD, and when it's bad, my ability to breath deeply into my stomach/diaphragm is severely compromised. I even wound up in the hospital once from this, my breathing getting so shallow that I hyperventilated whilst wearing a mask (which seems to make the problem much worse, as a daily habit).

I discovered, however, that practicing this diaphragmatic breathing really helps my GERD, and if I do it consistently, it all gets a lot better.

So, Exhale, and practice practice practice. Really focus on exhaling though. Get all of the air out, all of the way down to your stomach.

*I'm not suggesting that your stomach holds air or anything. Just telling you what works, if you visualize and do it.
 

isshinryuronin

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However, although I am positive that I am breathing correctly (I can feel my floating ribs expanding when I belly breathe) I simply am unable to take as deep a breath as I would like. Breathing normally with my chest, I feel that I am able to take in almost twice as much air if not more. So how would belly breathing be more effective if I am taking in less air, especially if I just breathe normally but slow and controlled?
I also think that less breath is inhaled via the belly than the chest. Two kinds of breathing - two purposes. Most of the time, slow and controlled into the belly is the rule. But there is also a time for upper breathing, IMO.

When I am out of breath after extreme exertion, I breath rapidly, maybe 4-6 times, into the chest to quickly resupply my body with oxygen. Then, I switch to slower deep belly breathing to restore my energy, calm and relax the body and mind, resetting it for the next set or round. (Of course, the ideal is to stay relaxed enough during physical activity to rely solely on belly breathing, but I have not reached that physical and spiritual level.)

I'm sure you have enough capacity and correct technique. But IMO, you need to employ both types of breathing as I described above to handle heavy exertion.
 

JowGaWolf

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I have tailored my gym routine to be more strength, rather than hypertrophy based, so that I can combine all of my training towards a common goal rather than keeping gym and martial arts separate.
This is new to me. I must have missed a post or misunderstood your past posts. The thing with martial arts is that it's the little things that make you strong and many of the little things can only get stronger through practicing the actual activity. In short the activity shapes the muscular development.

During my breaks between reps, I do my best to practice diaphragmatic breathing, especially when I am tired, as I read that this is one of the fastest ways to recover your breathing and energy, and also a good habit to practice after every sparring round.
You make things too difficult. Just practice it as a normal way of breathing.

However, although I am positive that I am breathing correctly (I can feel my floating ribs expanding when I belly breathe) I simply am unable to take as deep a breath as I would like. Breathing normally with my chest, I feel that I am able to take in almost twice as much air if not more. So how would belly breathing be more effective if I am taking in less air, especially if I just breathe normally but slow and controlled?
It's actually normal to breath from your diaphragm. Many of us breath that way as kids, but somewhere in our lives we screw it up and start breathing from expanding our chests. The difficulty that you have now is probably your mind fighting habit. How many years have you been breathing non-stop? It's going to take some time to change how you breathe. When you yawn, you probably don't inhale by expanding / lifting your chest.

The martial arts teacher in me wants to just tell you to do it and not ask so many questions about it lol. The best way for you to understand this is to go running at a fairly fast pace. You will start to breathe heavy then you'll begin notice that your running efficiency begins to greatly decrease and your body begins to have difficulty in getting enough air even though you are breathing and taking more breaths. Now when you run try to control your breathing and so that it's not so demanding focus on even-breathing and not huff and puff. You will soon notice that your performance is better and less tiring. This will allow you to experience why it's better.

If you don't want to experience it then just listen to this guy.

Personally I recommend experiencing it through exercise because then you'll feel the difference yourself and it cuts out the tons of explaining of why it works. Then you won't make statements like "I feel that Iam able to take in almost twice as much air if not more." This statement makes me think you are just standing there inhaling and not doing this during physical activity. The one thing martial arts form teaching students is to control your breathing especially if you are doing a kung fu form.

I definitely recommend that you practice breathing during you training and outside of your training. Don't make it something that you only do when you are training. Make it an every day exercise.

Do you guys think that perhaps my breathing technique is wrong? Or do I just need more practice to increase my capacity? Thanks to all of you for your support!
Practice breathing during your activity and outside of training. Don't make it a meditative thing. Just get used to breathing in a different way. Don't over think it,
 

JowGaWolf

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Are you actually getting less, or do you think you're getting less?
ha ha ha.. He probably think he's getting less because it doesn't feel the same as breathing that he's used to. The air still goes into the lungs when breathing from the diaphragm. It's new for him so it's probably just strange for him at the moment. I wouldn't be surprise if he's doing this through his mouth instead of his nose. Sometimes breathing in from the mouth will make diaphragm breathing feel as if you aren't getting enough air.
 

JowGaWolf

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I also think that less breath is inhaled via the belly than the chest. Two kinds of breathing - two purposes. Most of the time, slow and controlled into the belly is the rule. But there is also a time for upper breathing, IMO.
When this happens during exercise, then you'll try to regain your breath through diaphragm breathing until you can actually do it. It often requires the person to calm themselves down. It's always a challenge to slow the breathing and trust that you are getting enough air when your body is freaking out trying to breath hard. Once you get it down you can go from huffing and puffing to calm breathing in about 5 seconds.

It's one of those things a person has to trust without doubt. Having doubt will break focus and stress the breathing. Ivan will be in a mental battle as long as he thinks he's getting more oxygen the other way. Having doubts will make him less committed on focusing on controlling the breath.
 

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ha ha ha.. He probably think he's getting less because it doesn't feel the same as breathing that he's used to. The air still goes into the lungs when breathing from the diaphragm. It's new for him so it's probably just strange for him at the moment. I wouldn't be surprise if he's doing this through his mouth instead of his nose. Sometimes breathing in from the mouth will make diaphragm breathing feel as if you aren't getting enough air.
Another possibility. When you pause after exertion, you breathe fast. But if he's focusing on controlling his breaths to learn to belly breathe, he may be (even unconsciously) breathing slower.
 

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I also think that less breath is inhaled via the belly than the chest. Two kinds of breathing - two purposes. Most of the time, slow and controlled into the belly is the rule. But there is also a time for upper breathing, IMO.
Correct belly breathing includes chest breathing. Chest breathing fills mostly the upper parts of the lungs. Belly breathing fills the lower and then the upper.
That doesn't mean there's never times when chest breathing is a good idea. But if you're not filling the upper lungs when diaphragmatic breathing, you're robbing yourself.
 

JowGaWolf

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Another possibility. When you pause after exertion, you breathe fast. But if he's focusing on controlling his breaths to learn to belly breathe, he may be (even unconsciously) breathing slower.
Could be. There may be the confusion of Controlled breathing = slower breathing. Controlled breathing can be fast and controlled at the same time.

Belly breathing fills the lower and then the upper.
This is what it feels like to me. I fill like a cup and not a plate. The air fills the bottom and if I continue to inhale then the top will fill. When I breath from my chest I don't fill the lower lungs fill in the same matter. I feel more that my body is trying to lift my chest vs expand it. I can also feel tension at the top.
 

Dirty Dog

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Could be. There may be the confusion of Controlled breathing = slower breathing. Controlled breathing can be fast and controlled at the same time.
Agreed. But it does take practice, and I suspect a lot of people who are trying to re-learn belly breathing (I say relearn because this is how you breathe when you're born) control the rate. Because it's easier to do movement slow. I would encourage someone who wants to relearn breathing properly to start by practicing breathing at rest.
This is what it feels like to me. I fill like a cup and not a plate. The air fills the bottom and if I continue to inhale then the top will fill. When I breath from my chest I don't fill the lower lungs fill in the same matter. I feel more that my body is trying to lift my chest vs expand it. I can also feel tension at the top.
Exactly. There are some sources that suggest laying down, with one hand on your chest and one on your belly, then breathing. Their suggestion is that the belly should rise, but not the chest. This is silly. If you're not going to use the entire lung, there really is no point in changing how you breathe.
 

JowGaWolf

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Agreed. But it does take practice, and I suspect a lot of people who are trying to re-learn belly breathing (I say relearn because this is how you breathe when you're born) control the rate. Because it's easier to do movement slow. I would encourage someone who wants to relearn breathing properly to start by practicing breathing at rest.
Agreed, which is why I told him to just make it an part of everyday breathing and not something that is turn on and off like a switch. Make it the norm and not the exception. And it's like you state. it takes practice.

Their suggestion is that the belly should rise, but not the chest. This is silly. If you're not going to use the entire lung, there really is no point in changing how you breathe.
Yep. why fill the tank half way. Get some good breathes in and fill the tank. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this for him.
 

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Correct belly breathing includes chest breathing. Chest breathing fills mostly the upper parts of the lungs. Belly breathing fills the lower and then the upper.
Exactly what I was going to say, practice expanding the belly and then the chest in the same in breath, don't stop before the belly. You should be able to fill to the point where you feel like you couldn't possibly breathe in any more; not that you necessarily want to be doing this in all circumstances of course.
 

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Could be. There may be the confusion of Controlled breathing = slower breathing. Controlled breathing can be fast and controlled at the same time.
I think part of the reason it is practiced slow is to help control breathing during times of stress. We tend to breathe shallower and faster under stress, so practicing breathing slow and deep is probably an attempt to counter that. I've also read that being "out of breath" from running, for instance, is partly a matter of technique, which is why new runners get out of breath so quickly, but that improves so much over the first few weeks. Apparently, it has a lot to do with bothering to breathe out enough, so we get enough new air back. Slow breathing gives time to focus on breathing out fully.
 
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Ivan

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ha ha ha.. He probably think he's getting less because it doesn't feel the same as breathing that he's used to. The air still goes into the lungs when breathing from the diaphragm. It's new for him so it's probably just strange for him at the moment. I wouldn't be surprise if he's doing this through his mouth instead of his nose. Sometimes breathing in from the mouth will make diaphragm breathing feel as if you aren't getting enough air.
I do breathe in from the nose and out from the mouth, but the reason is because it feels as though my stomach is limiting from taking in more air, and I get a breathlessness type feeling.
 
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Ivan

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This is new to me. I must have missed a post or misunderstood your past posts. The thing with martial arts is that it's the little things that make you strong and many of the little things can only get stronger through practicing the actual activity. In short the activity shapes the muscular development.
It's a recent development for me. I used to train isolated exercises to target different muscle groups for hypertrophy. Now, ever since around February time I believe, I started reading different books on fitness and shifted more towards strongman/powerlifting as I feel that having more strength for less muscle would be more beneficial for me. My workouts consist of the Simple and Sinister Kettlebell program, and either step loading or cycling The 3 Big Lifts, squats, benchpress, and deadlift. After that, I do exercises for ankle and hip mobility.

Although these exercises do not mimic the movements of martial arts, they do help me develop my strength so that I can apply it along with the technique when it's necessary, such as during hard rolling or sparring. That's not to say I rely on my strength of course, but I'd rather have it and not need it than vice versa. Thanks for your advice it was very helpful and useful to me.
 
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Ivan

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Correct belly breathing includes chest breathing. Chest breathing fills mostly the upper parts of the lungs. Belly breathing fills the lower and then the upper.
That doesn't mean there's never times when chest breathing is a good idea. But if you're not filling the upper lungs when diaphragmatic breathing, you're robbing yourself.
I think that this has nailed the problem on the head for me. I don't feel that I am filling up the top half of my chest with air and perhaps that is why I feel my air is limited. I simply couldn't put it into words until I read this. Thank you.
 

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I do breathe in from the nose and out from the mouth,
This isn't really important. Yes, it's nice for the turbinates to filter and moisten air as you inhale, but it's also true that the nose is a much smaller passage than the mouth.

Poiseuilles Law describes the effects of length, diameter, and pressure on flow through a capillary tube. So let's look at breathing.

Your diaphragm pulls down, and your chest muscles expand the rib cage. Both serve to create a negative pressure inside the lungs, pulling air in. If your nasal valve has a diameter of X, this will cause a flow rate of Y. If we increase the diameter to 2X, the flow rate increases to 16Y. Doubling the diameter of a tube increases flow rate by a factor of 16, assuming the negative pressure in the lungs is unchanged. And you probably don't need me to tell you that it doesn't. When you're trying to supply enough air to deal with higher than normal O2 needs, your diaphragm and intercostal muscles will increase the negative pressure.

Yes, there are other factors involved in ventilation and perfusion, but this addresses the fundamental issue.

So sure, breathe through your nose normally. But when you really need air, mouth breathing is the way to go.
 

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Hi. Over the past few months I have tailored my gym routine to be more strength, rather than hypertrophy based, so that I can combine all of my training towards a common goal rather than keeping gym and martial arts separate.

During my breaks between reps, I do my best to practice diaphragmatic breathing, especially when I am tired, as I read that this is one of the fastest ways to recover your breathing and energy, and also a good habit to practice after every sparring round.

However, although I am positive that I am breathing correctly (I can feel my floating ribs expanding when I belly breathe) I simply am unable to take as deep a breath as I would like. Breathing normally with my chest, I feel that I am able to take in almost twice as much air if not more. So how would belly breathing be more effective if I am taking in less air, especially if I just breathe normally but slow and controlled?

Do you guys think that perhaps my breathing technique is wrong? Or do I just need more practice to increase my capacity? Thanks to all of you for your support!
Animals have been breathing for a very long time and have probably perfected it after several million years! Just breath in the way your body wants you to breath and ignore everything else you read. A good rule of thumb is, if you die, your doing it wrong and you should revert to the original method
 

Sifu Ken of 8 Tigers

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However, although I am positive that I am breathing correctly (I can feel my floating ribs expanding when I belly breathe) I simply am unable to take as deep a breath as I would like. Breathing normally with my chest, I feel that I am able to take in almost twice as much air if not more. So how would belly breathing be more effective if I am taking in less air, especially if I just breathe normally but slow and controlled?

Do you guys think that perhaps my breathing technique is wrong? Or do I just need more practice to increase my capacity? Thanks to all of you for your support!

This is normal. Your lungs aren't used to using the lower air sacs. But once you get used to it, the overall capacity will be significantly more.

How best to achieve this? Focus on the ABDOMEN, not the diaphragm. Lean against a wall, placing your closed fist against (top part) just below the navel, so that your contact with the wall is only the bottom of your fist. Breathing in and out, you will push off from the wall through your fist. This is the best way I have found to quickly teach your body to breathe as close to the center as possible.
 
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