Learning Diaphragmatic Breathing for Strength Training Workouts

Breathing might seem like second nature, but there are some techniques you can learn to help improve your performance.

During a workout, there’s no shortage of things to focus on: your form, the weight you’re lifting and how many reps you plan on doing. But there’s one key component that’s easy to overlook: your breathing.

When it comes to strength training, there are proper breathing techniques you should learn. One of these techniques is diaphragmatic breathing, which is the process of deep breathing through the stomach.

“Due to the stresses of life, poor posture and long-seated durations, we develop poor breathing mechanics,” corrective exercise and performance enhancement specialist Drew Walsh says. “Over time this can lead to joint dysfunction, poor recovery and muscle imbalances.”

So how can you control this as an athlete? Learn how to practice your diaphragmatic breathing with these Pro Tips.


Before you begin, find a box or a flat, squared surface and have it at your disposal. You’ll start the exercise by lying on the ground with your legs up at a 90-degree angle.

“This allows your pelvis to be in an optimal position for diaphragmatic breathing,” Walsh says.

Your back and head should be flat on the ground, with your hips also in contact with the floor. Keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle, place your calves and feet on top of the box. Your toes should point up in the air with your heels in contact with the box. Meanwhile, your hands should be flat on the ground and your arms to your sides.

Once you’re set in this position:

  • Take your right hand and place it in the center of your chest. Your elbow can lift off the ground, but not too high.
  • Take your left hand and place it in the center of your stomach. Once again, your elbow can have a slight lift to it.
  • Inhale through your nose.
  • Exhale through your mouth.

Walsh says that you should visualize the air coming in through your nose and into your stomach. Avoid thinking about the air coming into your chest.

“The athlete wants to feel their stomach expanding and the hand in contact with the chest does not move,” Walsh says.

Learning how to practice diaphragmatic breathing can help increase mobility, work capacity and recovery. Walsh says that efficient breathing techniques “can be the difference between proper and improper movement patterns.” Be sure to implement this breathing exercise before your next workout.

Looking to reach your full athletic potential? Discover how the universal athletic position is essential to improving your strength training fundamentals.