For those of us HIIT lovers that also love to lift some weights: you know just how taxing it can be on your body - especially when we're doing those big muscle movements like barbell squats and deadlifts. That being said, there is a simple pro lifter trick that's used to decrease pain, increase gains and make the movement a little easier when you're on your lifting days (and hey - even help you work up that 1 rep max!)
This trick is called the "valsalva maneuver". It may sound super fancy, but it basically means that you hold your breath during the "concentric" (when the weight goes up) phase of the movement. You then, simply, exhale at the top of the movement and repeat. Studies have shown that holding your breath during the concentric phase helps to maintain both intra-thoracic and intra-abdominal pressures to stabilize the spine, making your lift stronger. In other words: When you hold your breath inside the body (in the thoracic cavity), it puts pressure on the spine and helps to stabilize it. This helps to prevent low back injury or pain.Keep in mind, this is not a new-to-lifting technique. You'll want to get some lifts under your belt before you attempt this. Also, if you have high blood pressure, this technique may not be the best option as holding your breath can increase blood pressure, in the moment. If you are a beginner, try exhaling when the exercise is the hardest (during the lift), and inhale when the exercise is the easiest (when lowering the weight back down). Happy lifting!