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Want to Squat More Weight? Take a Deep Breath

Lift more—immediately—by adopting this tried-and-true method.

If you’ve been looking to add more power to your squat, we have the answer for you—and it takes just one simple move.

According to Joel Marion, C.P.T., a trainer in Burlington, N.J., "blowing your gut out before a squat rep causes an instantaneous increase in strength by 10% or more." In other words, suck it in some other time, because we have a great excuse for you to let it all hang out.

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Unrack the bar and move into squat position. Inhale as deeply as you can from your abdomen, so your abs push outward as if you just loosened your belt after Thanksgiving dinner.

Pro Tip: If your shoulders rise as you inhale, you're filling your lungs, which is not the goal.

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Hold the breath as you squat down, and maintain it until you've completed the rep. Exhale at the top, and repeat for each additional rep.

Pro Tip: Use this breathing technique only for sets of five reps or fewer—repeatedly holding your breath under a heavy load can dangerously increase blood pressure and may cause dizziness.

By inflating your gut, you increase the stability in your abdominal core, which is the origin of all your strength, says Marion. The ball of inhaled oxygen in your belly will act as a foundation, fortifying the lift throughout its toughest points. The breath will also act as a brace on your lumbar spine, protecting what would otherwise be one of the most injury-prone areas of the body.

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