The Power of Four | Box Breathing For Your Boxing Workouts

The Power of Four | Box Breathing For Your Boxing Workouts

Learn how to control your breathing during stressful situations and high-intensity boxing and kickboxing workouts with this breathwork technique.

Published: June 16, 2022

Topics: Wellness Tips, Wellness

Author: Marc Coronel

If you’re reading this, you are breathing, and most likely into boxing.

Let’s see how your breathing is right now?

Is it shallow? Are you only breathing through your mouth? Are your shoulders and chest moving? Are you eating and reading this at the same time?

Most people take breathing for granted, mainly because we don’t have to think about it. Our lifestyle and habits can negatively affect how we live without our realizing it. Our daily stress and activity level, or lack of activity, can impact how we breathe. The altered breath will affect how we feel and perform when doing what we enjoy. Working out, hiking, or going 8-12 rounds on a punching bag all require us to move oxygen into our bodies and carbon dioxide out of our bodies.

Going through a boxing workout can be pretty intense. Even though you don’t have to think about breathing daily, actually thinking about breathing will undoubtedly affect you. Being in the moment and controlling your breathing will help you effectively manage the amount of stress you feel from everyday life, as well as manage your heart rate from boxing training and other vigorous exercises.

There are plenty of breathwork exercises to help you control your stress, heart rate, and speed up your recovery. Here, we will discuss the breathing method we believe you can immediately implement to help you breathe properly.

What kind of breath is best for performance?

“Good breathing” means smooth, controlled breathing. According to the American Lung Association, you should use your nose and belly to improve your current breathing. Using your nose for breathing will filter the air, warm it, and humidify it. Your mouth cannot do this for you. Mouth breathing can be necessary for those with sinus congestion or if you feel you need to increase the uptake of oxygen. Your belly is involved in breathing since it requires you to pull the air into your stomach and use the diaphragm, the muscle associated with breath. Diaphragmatic breath, or “belly breathing,” will strengthen the diaphragm, resulting in decreased oxygen demand, less effort and energy to breathe, and a slower breathing rate. When you slow your breathing rate, you will also slow your heart rate. Being mindful of your breathing technique, especially when fighting or boxing training, will improve your quality of life without stressing the muscles around your upper back, chest, and ribs.

To take a proper diaphragmatic breath, start lying down comfortably or standing up, and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Inhale through your nose to push the air down into your belly, expanding the belly and filling your lungs with oxygen. Exhale to completely empty the lungs calmly and in a controlled manner.

The Importance of Breath For Recovery and Performance

There are many benefits of proper breathing, such as better sleep, improved sports performance, feelings of relaxation, reduced stress, and increased resilience. When you start your FightCamp journey as a beginner boxer or as an already experienced fighter, you can still benefit from breathing with purpose and on purpose. Focused breathing helps manage your stress levels by controlling your breath rate and heart rate between rounds.

Studies have shown that you take fewer breaths when you breathe only with your nose than if you breathe only with your mouth. Breathing only with your nose will elevate your heart rate more than breathing with your mouth. Don’t forget about the benefits of inhaling through your nose, then add that to a forced exhale through your mouth to allow for core bracing. Your overall performance during rounds will increase. If you are unsure about the forced exhale, imagine shushing a dog, or you might hear the FightCamp trainer say “sha!” as they punch or kick. Purse your lips together and empty your lungs as you exert energy from your body. Imagine someone tickling you as you exhale, and you will stiffen your core which will also protect your spine.

What Is Box Breathing?

For centuries people have been experiencing the benefits of breathwork. With the modern-day transition to a more fast-paced world, you too can start practicing this today. A popular method of breathing to manage stress that is utilized by U.S. Navy Seals is called box breathing. Box breathing is a simple method you can add to your daily practice to manage your stress levels and quickly regain focus. There is history in this breath. It has roots in Pranayama, the control of breath also known as the yogic art of breathing or breathing gymnastics.

Tommy Duquette Boxing

Benefits of Box Breathing

There are numerous studies on the benefits of box breathing, explicitly about diaphragmatic breath (belly breathing). Box breathing improves cardiorespiratory fitness and respiratory muscle strength, significantly reducing blood pressure, enhancing attention, and reducing fatigue and anxiety. Whether you are a beginner boxer or an experienced boxer, you will encounter some stress while working to improve your stamina, endurance, and physical condition. Focusing on your breath, especially in between rounds, will train your body and mind to deal with how you react to stress and stressful situations even outside of your training. Calming your nervous system by slowing down your breath to its normal rhythm will allow you to push yourself to new levels and learn new things. Increasing mental clarity, energy, and focus are among the benefits of box breathing. Adding box breathing to your life and boxing training will allow you to have a more positive outlook, stay consistent with your fitness routine, and crush your fitness goals.

How To Box Breathe

Now that you know the science behind it and how it can help you in your fitness training, it’s time to learn how to box breathe.

  1. Breathe in through your nose to completely fill your lungs with air for a four-count, pushing the air into your belly.

  2. Hold your breath for 4 seconds, trying not to inhale further or exhale.

  3. Relax your jaw and exhale slowly through your mouth for 4 seconds like you’re fogging a mirror.

  4. Try not to inhale for 4 seconds.

Repeat steps 1-4 until you feel relaxed and more focused. The next time you feel stressed or out of breath, take 30-60 seconds to focus on your breath and mindset. If four seconds is too much, it’s okay to start practicing with just two or three seconds in the beginning to set yourself up for success. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase your count.

When To Box Breathe

Let’s try it right now so you can use it next time you’re pounding the heavy bag between rounds or doing a cool down routine. The more often you use this breathing technique, the more you will benefit, even on a genetic level. Studies have shown that breathwork reduces the activation of genes associated with inflammation and stress. So normal breathing will have both short and long-term health benefits. On a rest day or when you’re not working out, start with just one cycle of box breathing and work your way up to five or even 15 minutes per day. Change your reaction to stress and change your mindset one box breath at a time.

Train Like A Fighter

Take your workouts to the next level and train like a fighter with the at-home connected fitness solution used by world champion boxers Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather. FightCamp has everything you need to work out on your schedule, with premium boxing equipment and hundreds of on-demand strength, conditioning, kickboxing, boxing, core, and recovery classes led by real fighters. As Mike Tyson said - “FightCamp is the next level of training!” 

Marc Coronel

Marc Coronel is the Co-owner of Energia Fitness and an industry award-winning international consultant, educator, and presenter for people and fitness companies like TRX and Under Armour. He loves sharing knowledge.

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