For some reason we’re taught to expand our chest when we breathe (large chest syndrome). This is not how our bodies are designed to inhale. The diaphragm is the muscle designated to expanding the lungs and bringing air into them. It’s located, as if you didn’t already know, under the lungs. To breathe efficiently by using the diaphragm, think about drawing air into the bottom third of your lungs as you expand your belly like a balloon. Try doing this while inhaling through your nose and you’ll notice a relaxing sensation throughout your body.

Take a few moments before each workout to sit quietly and practice breathing through your nose and with the diaphragm. This will start your workout in the right frame of mind and breathing correctly. Keep reminding yourself how to breathe with the diaphragm throughout your workout and return to it if you fall back on incorrect breathing.

Another breathing aid is to focus on exhaling during climbing and hard efforts. Once you’ve developed the habit of filling your lungs by breathing with the diaphragm your body will take care of the inhaling portion on it’s own. By forcing the air out of your lungs you’ll develop a more complete, efficient breathing cycle. Short breaths don’t completely fill or empty the lungs.

You can also practice diaphragmatic breathing while you’re lying in bed. Breathe through your nose and expand your belly. It’ll help you develop the habit and relax yourself to sleep.