Oxygen fuels are bodies just as food does. How often have you found yourself thinking that if only you could get more air faster, you’d be able to power up a hill in a jog, or at least maintain pace? While most runners focus on training their legs and heart, few pay attention to the benefits that respiratory training can have on endurance and overall performance. After all, better breathing means more oxygen for your muscles.
Scientists at Brunel University in England recently found that marathoners’ fatigue levels and breathing. The runners whose breathing was most strained were found to have the most leg weakness. This led the team to conclude that respiratory muscles power the legs. The key? Deep breathing. Below are three pilates cross-training exercises to minimize the panting and maximize the power.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your sides, palms down. Inhale and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and arms off the ground as much as you can. Lift your knees and pull your feet out in front of you so that your legs are straight and at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out while pumping your arms, moving them in small circles. Do a cycle of 10 full breaths, which is comprised of five inhales and five exhales. By the time that you do 10 complete breaths, you should have also completed 100 arm pumps.
Lie face down with your palms flat under your shoulders (as if you were going to do a pushup). Look down so your neck is in line with your spine and inhale while slowly lifting your head, neck, shoulders, and chest as you press your hands into the ground. This is almost like a pushup except that you keep your legs flat on the ground. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. As you exhale, slowly lower yourself back down chest first, then the shoulders, neck, chin, and head. To avoid discomfort or pain in your back and neck, pull your shoulders back to open up your chest. Repeat the up and down 10 times
Standing Chest Expansion
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your arms at your sides. Inhale and lift your arms up and out so that your biceps are near your ears and your palms are facing each other (touchdown stance). Exhale and lower your arms back down to your sides. Repeat four times, concentrating on deep breathing and opening up your chest.