How to Breathe While Squatting

woman lifting weights in the gym with a spotter behind her,woman squatting weights

Learning a new exercise can be challenging in its own right, but when you try to incorporate the proper breathing techniques alongside the exercise's movements, it's easy to end up frustrated and confused. If you want to target your quadriceps as part of your weight-training regimen, squats are a simple exercise that you can perform with weights or with just the weight of your body as resistance. Once you learn to breathe correctly during a set of squats, your breath will seem second nature.

Stand in position in front of the squat rack and grasp the barbell as it sits in the rack. Exhale and lift the weight onto your shoulders. Take a couple full breaths, if necessary, before you start the exercise.

Inhale as you bend your knees to lower your body toward the floor. If performing a standard squat, stop with your thighs parallel to the floor. If performing a full squat, lower your buttocks toward your heels so that your knees are fully bent.

Exhale as you straighten your legs to return to the upright position to complete one rep. Continue this breathing pattern as you complete subsequent reps of the exercise.


If you struggle with getting accustomed to breathing during squats, perform body-weight squats and focus on your breath before trying weighted squats.

If performing dumbbell squats, exhale as you lift the dumbbells from the weight rack or off the floor.


Never perform a set of squats if you have a muscle injury.

Avoid the temptation to hold your breath during this exercise. warns that holding your breath during weight training can increase your blood pressure to unsafe levels.