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Photo: Joshua Resnick (Shutterstock) You can go through most of your life without worrying about whether and how you’re breathing, but as soon as somebody mentions that you’re supposed to breathe a certain way in the gym, it’s easy to get tripped up. Out when? In when? Oops, I held my breath instead—is that bad? As with anything else in the exercise world, there are different recommendations for different people doing different things . If you’ve heard conflicting advice, don’t worry, we’ll sort it out. Should I hold my breath when I’m lifting weights? Okay, so the first big divide on this question is between people who breathe when they lift and people who don’t. I don’t breathe during most of my lifts. I spend most of my time in the gym doing big compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, snatches, cleans. I wear a belt for most of them. And I brace my core hard while I do them. For these lifts, the Valsalva maneuver is a powerful tool. That’s the fancy name for building pressure in your torso by holding your breath. You’ve probably done it on the toilet at some point. Between my belt, my braced core, and the pressure of the air in my lungs, I’m doing a lot to stabilize my torso and protect my spine from injury. I’m also able to lift more weight this way than if I didn’t brace or hold my breath. Watch any competitive powerlifter’s face turn tomato-red during a squat, […]