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  • Add reps with Russian breathing techniques

    By Nate Morrison - Special to the Times

    The failure point -- we've all been there. When you find yourself falling short of that last rep or two or three, your breathing could be to blame. Two solutions from our former Cold War rivals in Russia can make all the difference.

    High-tension power breathing. Imagine you're in the front leaning rest position and you need one or two more push-ups to max out your physical-fitness test, but your arms are trembling and your will to continue is breaking. Here's what you do:

    Inhale as you descend while bracing your abs, as if for a punch, and squeezing your glutes. Grip the ground and try to turn your hands outward. Then, exhale under pressure during the upward portion of the movement so your breath makes a loud hissing sound. Imagine that your breath is like a hydraulic pump doing the work for you.

    At the top, go into the rest position, if necessary, and exhale forcefully. Then breathe forcefully in through your nose and out through your mouth to speed recovery and reduce pressure in your vascular system. Do another rep using the same breathing method. You should be able to get five to 15 more reps using this technique.

    Systema breathing. This type of breathing comes from the ancient Russian martial art of Systema. The monks who are credited with the continuation of the art found that certain types of breathing were better than others for longer-duration physical activities such as running and manual labor.

    Beyond physical training, this breathing method also has profound medical and psychological benefits. I have taught it to patients with broken limbs while applying traction with no morphine or other medication to help them manage the pain.

    The method is very simple.

    You breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, increasing your breathing rate as the workload increases.

    Again using push-ups as an example, you might start your set breathing in once during the downward portion and out once during the upward portion. As fatigue sets in, your breathing rate will increase so that you will be breathing in and out many times during each repetition.

    This type of breathing immediately reduces the amount of toxins in your blood and regulates its pH level because of the increased ventilation effort. This prevents the combination of metabolic and respiratory acidosis and speeds recovery while providing improved endurance. It also reduces the load on all your muscles, including your heart.

    It is not uncommon for someone to add 10 to 20 push-ups when using this type of breathing.

    Try both of these methods and see which works best for you. You will find that, depending on the activity, one or the other -- or a combination of the two -- may work better for you and crack the code on adding reps for your next PT test.

    Nate Morrison is an Air Force pararescueman staff sergeant. He is a military fitness expert and founder of an online fitness magazine.

  • #2
    Re: Add reps with Russian breathing techniques

    Sounds like good stuff here, I'll try this with my next workout.


    • #3
      Re: Add reps with Russian breathing techniques

      That's basic weightlifting 101.

      Do as many as you can without slowing, then go the the rest postion, then knock more, before failure go back to rest position, repeat process.

      The true secret is increasing weight on benchpress.

      I like the rear in the air rest position.