Workout of the Day

With Bated Breath


Did you know that it’s possible (and quite common) to overbreathe? The primary purpose of breathing is to take in oxygen for metabolism (energy creation) and to rid the body of waste gasses (like carbon dioxide, a byproduct of metabolism). It may seem, then, that breathing more would give you more of the good stuff and less of the bad: more oxygen and less CO2. The problem is, the system isn’t so simple as O2 = good, CO2 = bad. While CO2 is a waste product of metabolism that can, particularly in the case of exercise, cause fatigue and limit cellular function, it is also an essential piece of the puzzle as far as respiratory function and efficiency.

In short, the presence of CO2 signals the release of O2 to be used by cells. Think of this like the red metal flag on your mailbox that you raise up to signal to your mail carrier that you have outgoing mail. Your mailbox could be stuffed to the gills with outgoing mail, but without the red flag, your outgoing mail won’t be picked up to be sent out to the recipients. In the same way, you may be sucking in boat loads of oxygen, even saturating your blood with it, but without the little red flag (CO2), there’s no signal to release this oxygen to be used by the cells.

The problem with overbreathing, then, is that when you breathe at a rate that eliminates CO2 faster than your body produces it, your number of red flags diminish, and the O2 available for all of the important bodily functions diminishes along with it. This is particularly the case with mouth breathing, which allows a much greater volume of air to be easily moved in and out than nose breathing. Among the potential side effects of chronic overbreathing are lack of energy, anxiety or feelings of panic, feelings of breathlessness, sinus and airway irritation, headache, frequent yawning, snoring, and more.

Your breath is a primary gateway to your health and functionality, and yet the overwhelming majority of people are entirely unaware of their breathing habits. Chronic overbreathing can easily go unnoticed and go on for decades. While there is no easy or immediate fix to such a habitual and largely autonomic function, something as simple as breathing through your nose (more on this in a future post) rather than your mouth and becoming aware of and slowing down your breathing every time you sit down to work or to relax can be the first steps to changing your breathing habits, tuning into your breath, and changing your physiology and psychology. Your breath is an incredible tool -- don’t neglect it.

- PS


  • For time:

    • 100 DUs

    • 40 pull-ups

    • 30 squat clean & jerks (135/95)

    • 20 pull-ups

    • 10 squat clean & jerks (135/95)

    • 100 DUs