A few years ago you read a lot about the fantastic gains from Breathing Squats. Today you rarely see anyone doing high repetition breathing squats. Chaps are mostly concerned with strength and muscle developing exercises.
When breathing squats were recommended a while back, repetitions from 20 and deep breaths of up to seven were used. It didn't take long to overdo your energy and enthusiasm.
Another method can be employed, using fairly high repetitions, breathing adequately and also using substantial poundages.
This method involves hard work, but at the same time, it produces results.
Firstly, when squatting you should ensure that the exercise is done properly for the results you desire. That is, in this case, by keeping the back flat when going down into the full squat position as well as coming up. A raised heel may help you.
Breathing is just as important; full breaths without undue strain. Breathe in before squatting, making sure you lift the chest up and out as you do so. Remember the rib box is flexible. You then hold the breath and only exhale upon rising from the full squat position. When your breathing becomes labored you can then take up to three or more breaths, but make sure you lift your chest on every breath.
After each set of breathing squats you should do either stiff-arm pullovers with a light barbell, or stiff-arm laterals while lying on a flat bench, in repetitions from 10 to 15. These exercises will not only allow you to take advantage of stretching the whole rib box, but also bring back your breathing quickly to normal tempo. These two movements are not to be confused with muscle exercises. The poundages must not be to heavy, but only enough to allow you to do complete movements.
Now, instead of keeping to, say, 20 repetitions for each set of breathing squats, a good plan is to decrease the reps and increase the weights like this:
20 reps, about bodyweight
18 reps, 30-35 lb increase
15 reps, 25-30 lb increase
12 reps, 20-25 lb increase
10 reps, 10-20 lb increase, then
A few low reps, if you are not too tired.
The next step is the method of breathing. For the first 8 reps just take one breath for each repetition. When you feel your breathing becoming a little labored start taking two breaths. With each breath you should lift the chest up. When the 12th rep has been reached, take three breaths between each repetition. The last three reps, increase the breaths to four.
An important advantage over the old method of doing breathing squats is firstly that a fair amount of poundage is uses, and secondly, the breathing is not overdone, thus avoiding dizziness, nausea, etc.
Make no mistake -- breathing squats are tough and require a bit of getting used to. But once you are fit enough, results will be almost immediate.
The chest and thighs will develop the fastest because these areas will be doing most of the work. This will help increase your bodyweight.
Owing to the severity and squat-based emphasis, very few exercises will be needed to complete a routine. Three times a week training will prove best.
The following exercises can be used with the five to six sets of breathing squats:
1) Bench Press -
3-5 sets of 8-10 reps.
One factor to consider is that pectoral development should not be overdone. Breathing squats and pullovers can expand the rib box, while heavy pectorals tend to hamper this expansion. This is because overdeveloped pectorals somehow force your shoulders forward. In other words, concentrate rather on expanding the chest first. Once you have given breathing squat a fair trial (about two to three months), you can then work more on the pecs. Remember, pecs are usually very easy to develop compared to enlarging the rib box.
2) Wide Grip Front Chins -
3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.
Chinning will enlarge your whole upper body. Add weight when you can do more than 15 reps.
3) Upright Rowing With Barbell -
3 sets of 8 reps.
Has a great effect on broadening the shoulders. Make sure you do not use too much body motion.
4) Seated Barbell Curl -
4 sets of 8-10 reps.
Forces you to do the exercise without cheating and allows for a strong contraction. Remember to lower the weight back to the thighs slowly.
5) Situps -
5 sets of 15-25 reps.
Abdominal work must not be neglected. Try a twisting movement when you come up, and make sure you lower slowly.
6) Calf Raises -
5 sets of 20-25 reps.
Do complete movements; hold the top position for a count of three and lower as far as possible while keeping the knees locked.
It is a good plan to train only three times a week when working on breathing squats. Try and keep to the course from two to three months. After that you can return to your normal training, or another approach. Every few months go back to breathing squats.