Reverse breathing

Reverse breathing

Today we will discuss our second Breathing Pattern in the “How Breathing can make you Stronger series”.

This is article is about the Reverse Breathing Pattern. Today you will learn what the Reverse Breathing Pattern is. What it is good for and how to start using this pattern to improve your overall well being.


Let’s first talk about what Reverse Breathing is:

With this method of Breathing you are doing exactly the reverse as with Normal Breathing: When you inhale your belly goes in, when you exhale your belly goes out. The result of this is a fast increase in IAP, which is better known as Intra-Abdominal Pressure. This in turn will protect the spine and internal organs against impact.

For this reason Reverse Breathing is often used by different athletes, especially martial artists as they often have to brace for impact.


It is a hard skill to master, and you need to be cleared by your personal physician before attempting this type of breathing, as it causes a lot of pressure in your abdominal region


What is it good for

It allows you to compress your core muscles very quick, while inhaling at the same time. This compression makes sure that your spine and internal organs are protected under impact. For example if someone hits or kicks you in the stomach or back.

How does it work

This way of breathing is completely the opposite of natural breathing, so it might take a lot of practice to master this type of breathing.

When you breathe in you will pull your stomach in, by pulling your navel to your spine and by contracting your muscles as hard as you can.

When you breathe out you relax and push your belly out.

How to train it

The movement pattern looks like this:

Breathing in:

  • Breathe in and push the air to your lower belly
  • Contract your core muscles
  • Pull your navel as far back to your spine as possible


Breathing out:

  • Breathe out
  • Relax your muscles
  • Push your belly out


People often train this method of breathing during Kata (Kata’s are martial arts forms or sequences) or during partner drills.

When I practiced karate, we used this way of breathing while someone hit us in the stomach.

To do this yourself:

Stand in front of each other, one person breathes in and compresses the core, while the other person hits the abdominal muscles, then the training partners switch roles.

With this exercise you practice both the Reverse Breathing Pattern while at the same time you train your Abdominal Muscles.

Most common mistakes

The most common mistake in this type of breathing is to leave the neutral position of your spine. Your spine should be straight, not bend forwards or extended backwards.

The compression that you get when you breathe in, and contract your core muscles at the same time, will make sure that you protect your spine and internal organs on impact.


As you now know the Reverse Breathing Pattern is a very situational Pattern, which is mainly used by Athletes, and in specific Martial Artists.

This Breathing Pattern has the benefit of protecting your Spine and your Internal Organs, but at the same time it requires you to be healthy, because if your not the Intra-Abdominal Pressure might be too much to handle for you.

This was the third part in our Series on “How Breathing makes You Stronger” the next article in this series explains you the “Power Breathing Pattern” If you have any Comments, Questions or Suggestions feel free to leave a reply below, or contact us by clicking here

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