breathing during the press

Mastering the Press: Breathing Techniques for Optimal Performance

Starting Strength Coach Grant Broggi answers a question from The Strength Co. Slack community about when to breathe during the Press, as well as when to use different variations of the press. This is a clip from The Okay Podcast EP 021.


Breathing Patterns on the Press: A Starting Strength Approach

When it comes to the press, understanding and mastering your breathing patterns can significantly impact your performance. Here's a breakdown of the different techniques and when to breathe during each style of press.

The Press 2.0

In Starting Strength, we teach the Press 2.0, which involves a unique hip movement at the start:

Breathing: Inhale and brace before you throw your hips forward. As the bar moves up, exhale at the top. When you bring the bar back down, take a new breath and repeat.

Execution: This technique uses a stretch reflex from the hip movement, making it reproducible and effective for adding weight consistently.

The Strict Press (Press 1.0)

For those who prefer a more straightforward approach:

Breathing: Inhale at the bottom, press the bar up, and exhale once the bar is back down. Take a new breath before the next rep.

Execution: This method is simpler but may be limiting as it doesn't use as much muscle mass as the Press 2.0

Advanced Techniques (Press 1.5)

For advanced lifters or those with specific needs:

Stretch Reflex from the Triceps: After the first rep, exhale at the top, reset your breath, and use the stretch reflex from the triceps as you bring the bar down and press back up.

Breathing: Exhale at the top after the first rep, then inhale as you bring the bar down for subsequent reps.

Why We Prefer the Press 2.0

The Press 2.0 is preferred because it allows for a reproducible stretch reflex without the variability of a push press, which can involve inconsistent knee bending and more quad engagement. The goal is to work the upper body muscles effectively without over-relying on the quads, which are already targeted in squats and deadlifts.

Practical Tips

New Lifters: Focus on mastering the strict press first to understand the importance of bar path and lockout.

Advanced Lifters: Incorporate the Press 2.0 for better muscle engagement and progressive overload.

Special Cases: For those struggling with hip movement or with shoulder issues, the Press 1.0 or a modified version might be more suitable.


Breathing patterns in the press depend on the style you're using. Whether it's the Press 2.0 for advanced lifters or the strict press for beginners, mastering your breathing can enhance your lifting performance. Always remember to hold your breath through the concentric phase (the push) and adjust based on your specific technique and needs.

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