How to Breathe Correctly for Deadlifts


In our next installment from Jesse Burdick (, Jesse talks about one of the biggest issues when lifters are try to learn how to deadlift. How to set the core and learn how to breathe correctly, especially when you’re in the setup and restricted (compressed), can be very confusing.

If you have checked out our Hard:CORE system, you’ll know that breathing correctly is the key to setting your ‘inner core’ – and then has to happen if you want to create foundational stability. If we can create more stability, we will be able to create more tension and move with control. You can imagine this is pretty important when you’re pulling heavy weights off the floor.

Let’s see what Jesse has to say?

Side Note: To view the entire series, check out the Diesel Training Center

Breathing and Bracing for the Deadlift

Jesse states that breathing correctly is “important if you are missing off the floor and is used in conjunction with taking the slack out of the bar.” (see Jesse’s previous tip)

To brace correctly, you want to “imagine you have to brace for a punch.” This is the type of tension (irradiation=full body tension, engagement of multiple muscle groups or intermuscular coordination) you need for the bottom of the deadlift.  This means you have to stay really tight when you setup to pull a deadlift and your breath starts this process.

By breathing correctly, you will:

- keep things tight

- protect your spine

- “wind up and set the spring”

So where does breathing factor into the deadlift setup?

When and Where to Breathe?

The problem with trying to get your breath in the hole (at the bottom of the deadlift, when you setup to pull the weight) is that your body is compressed.  In this position breathing or catching a deep breath can be difficult.  You can’t expand your abdomen and properly set your tension.

Jesse states that the two best times to breathe are:

1.  Breathe at the Top – (when you’re standing up) and then drop down to grab the bar – this technique is reserved for more advanced lifters who have their technique dialed in

2.  Breathe at the Bottom But in a Better Position – you’ll want to grab the bar first and then breathe – with your hips high and while you have more space – then drop into place “setting the spring” and creating tension.  Then you pull the weight.  I actually talk about this same technique in my popular How to Deadlift video.  For a good visual explanation on how to use this breathing sequence, check it out HERE.

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  • Conor

    Very cool post Smitty! Jesse is the shit! Love his advice. Keep ‘em coming!

  • Alexis

    I just wrote a little post on the importance of breathing when working out for fitness beginners Many people hold their breath when they exercise, this is actually very dangerous and should be avoided.

  • Mario

    great post, most guys underestimate the value of correct breathing technique.

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