Can Hyperventilating Make You Stronger? What Science Says
You’ve probably heard a lot of strange ideas about how to get stronger and build muscle.
You know, things like drinking a gallon of milk a day, doing ten sets of ten reps of every exercise, sipping flavored water BCAAs between meals, and so forth.
And if you’ve put any of these ideas into practice, you’ve also learned they’re more or less all humbug.
If you’re following a well-designed strength training program, eating enough protein and slightly more calories than you burn every day, and sleeping at least 8 hours per night, there’s little else you can do to further goose muscle growth or strength gains.
That said, it’s you’re doing all of those things, it’s worth exploring what that “little else” might entail.
For example, although blood-flow restriction sounds like something from the pages of Fifty Shades of Gray, it’s actually a scientifically validated method for boosting muscle growth and strength.
Recently, researchers have uncovered another potential way to increase strength (and thus muscle growth): hyperventilation training.
Isn’t that what happens when you have a panic attack?
Well, yes, it can occur in response to extreme anxiety, but specifically, hyperventilation refers to a situation where rapid, deep breathing causes an imbalance in the ratio of carbon dioxide (CO2) to oxygen (O2) in your blood.
When you “overbreathe” (as some people refer to hyperventilation), you exhale CO2 much faster than you inhale O2.
This causes the level of CO2 in your blood to plummet, which can lead to a variety of unpleasant side effects like lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, and intense tingling in your fingers and face, with the effects becoming more intense the longer you hyperventilate . . .
. . . which sounds like the last thing you’d want to experience while lifting heavy weights.
According to a new study conducted by scientists at Juntendo University, though, hyperventilating briefly—enough to slightly decrease your blood levels of CO2, but not so much that you experience negative effects—may temporarily make you stronger.
Keep listening to learn why and how hyperventilating can boost your strength.
5:34 - What is one of the primarily physiological factors that limits our performance in workouts?
14:14 - How do you hyperventilate?
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