You’ve probably seen influencers buzzing about a totally new concept in the fitness world: a ‘breather’. But what exactly is it? 98 Gym trainer, Victoria Burdon tells us all we need to know.
“Essentially, a breather is a workout that challenges the lungs (breathing) and the cardiovascular system over the body’s strength or coordination,” Victoria explains.
The term is usually used in reference to a tough, high-intensity cardio session. In these workouts, the limiting factor will not be fatigue in the muscles, it’ll be your cardiovascular fitness. Sometimes these are done as the sole workout for the day and other times they can be tacked onto the end to add a little kick to the sweat sesh.
So, what's the benefit?
A breather workout will benefit your fitness routine if you are interested in pushing your body to the limit, raising the heart rate, and challenging the mind. Anytime you can push yourself to achieve your maximum effort and work there for an extended period of time, you will reap the benefits. Every time you do this, your body will become better at maintaining that exertion point for longer before fatiguing. When you work at a higher percentage of your max heart rate, the body adapts and gradually, it will increase. This means your body can more efficiently supply adequate oxygen to your muscles (one of the main reasons you fatigue) which allows you to train harder and last longer.
The breather workouts can also act as a mental workout. In these sessions, you’re forced to dig deep, feel uncomfortable and keep pushing when you want to give up. Your body is incredible in that it can take a lot more than you give it credit for, so often it’s these mental limitations that are actually holding us back.
In Victoria’s experience training & coaching, she is always striving to push the boundaries of her mind.
“When you persevere in moments when you think there’s no more gas in the tank, this builds character and resilience, and that mentality carries over into life outside the gym”, she says.
How often should I be doing it?
Is it always necessary to challenge your breathing during fitness? “Absolutely not,” Victoria adds.
You don’t need to deplete yourself every workout to achieve your fitness goals. Even though one of the most common fitspo captions is “no pain, no gain”, you can still get a lot out of a session in which you barely break a sweat.
While you may not be stressing the muscles to the point of soreness (DOMS) during breathers, don’t be fooled - they are still very taxing on the body and require adequate recovery. Without pain and soreness, you may think you’ve recovered, but it’s not necessarily the sole indication of whether your workout was successful or not. You can still make progress without being sore, another common misconception that leads to under recovering and overtraining.
In short, breathers are a great addition to your workout regime but incorporate them with caution. Use them to build your engine, test your mind, and push physical boundaries but also ensure you’re rewarding your body with the recovery it deserves.
With firsthand strength and conditioning experience as an athlete and also as a coach, it was a no-brainer for Victoria to pursue her passion in the industry. Shortly after graduating University, the Canadian-native relocated to Sydney and explored different avenues of the fitness industry before finding herself at 98 Riley Street Gym. She values hard work and integrity over results and high reps in workouts and believes the gym is a place to build these life values that can be transferred into everyday life.