Do you even nose-breathe, bro?

By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist


A mind to muscle connection during your workouts can help you level-up as far as efficiency per rep, progress, and keeping injuries at bay. When we do a bicep curl, for example, we want the bicep to do the work. Its isolated function is to flex the elbow. That’s its reason for existence. If our mind isn’t connected to it and our form is sketch, the forearm and wrist will try and take over – which isn’t where we’re trying to force adaptation. The wrist muscles and forearm aren’t built to move as much weight as that bicep. They will certainly help as synergists, but the bicep is the prime mover. Our bodies will find any way possible to make the rep happen, even by arching our back to create a little extra upward force. Not good.

In keeping with mind to muscle, let’s chat about mouth-breathing vs. nose-breathing. Our nose is created, mechanically, to initiate the respiratory system upon inhalation. Our mouths are mechanically created to initiate the digestive system. Two separate functions.

The structure of the nose has a filtration system for air to keep out foreign objects and allergens not meant to pass into our lungs. It can also warm the air before entry into the lungs for a smoother ride and easier absorption. Totally fascinating, right?

Aside from initiating the digestive system in taking in food, our mouths create saliva to fight bacteria. When we use it for inhalation, the air can dry up that saliva, working against its function. In essence, it could be like using your forearm to do a bicep curl – stealing force and power and wasting time and reps. Our nose is the prime mover for respiratory function.

Still not sold? Just by nose-breathing, you are working your core musculature! That diaphragm muscle that contracts and relaxes is activated per each nose inhalation. When we use our mouth to initiate breathing, we call on muscles that are commonly already overactive, like our chest and anterior neck muscles. Those guys are culprits of upper crossed syndrome and they don’t need any more help in that arena.

Connect your mind to that muscle and power up your cardiovascular functions. Make that belly inflate!


Tip shared by Jesse Kepka, NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and owner of Elevate Fitness. Jesse is a co-organizer for Priority Fit Camp. Each week, we publish a health and wellness tip that is shared at the Priority Fit Camp community workout. The free group class happens every Saturday at 7:50 a.m.  

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