If you’re looking to maximize your squat performance, you must train your breath in the squat shape. Besides inhaling through the nose on the eccentric or stretching phase (going down) and exhaling through the mouth on the concentric or shortening phase (going up) during dynamic reps, you can also do isolated breath work in a static position at the bottom of your squat for time. This is critical because it’s harder to breathe when your body is flexed or compressed. And since the squat involves the whole body, not just the large leg & hip muscles, it requires maximum oxygen uptake every rep. So better squat breathing means less fatigue and more reps before exhaustion.
The best place to start is with the seated box squat because you can easily spend 5-10 minutes in that position with laser-focus on diaphragmatic belly-breathing. Set the box height at your ideal squat depth, typically thighs parallel to the floor or hip crease just beneath knee crease. You can also sit on a padded med ball which allows multi-directional movement for further ankle, knee & hip mobility during the breath holds. Sit tall, pack your shoulders & ribs down & keep your core lightly engaged. Remember- sitting down doesn’t mean you can revert to poor posture!
Use the 5-second box breath:
5-second inhale through the nose
5-second breath hold
5-second exhale through the mouth
5-second breath hold
That’s 1 rep or breath cycle that takes 20 seconds to complete. Perform for 5-10 straight minutes or 15-30 total reps. It’s best done pre-workout or on off-days.
You can add a resisted breathing device like the BreatherFit to add resistance to the mouth exhalations. Make sure to drive the breathing from the belly NOT the neck, mouth or face. Excessive cheek puffing & facial straining is a sign the resistance is too heavy. You can also purse your lips to provide equipment-free mouth exhalation resistance.
You can also close one nostril to add resistance to the nasal inhalation component. Isolating one nostril at a time is also ideal if you have a weak side. My left nostril lags behind my right so I tend to inhale mostly through the weak side during this training. You can also switch sides each rep or halfway into the total training time.