Breathe in squats

No matter where you look, you will see people talking about how squats are the king (or queen) of weight training exercises. I love squats as much as the next girl and am constantly experimenting with how I can make my workouts and workouts as efficient as possible for my clients.

In addition to being efficient from a time perspective, we like to focus on the big goals for most people – losing fat and becoming more defined and modeled.

One of the best ways to do this is to incorporate higher repetition and heavier work. This is a dynamic combination for fat loss. It’s important to note that if you want to lose fat, you need to get strong to get your metabolism going – more muscle means more calories burned at rest (also known as a higher metabolic rate).

Today I wanted to introduce you to a technique that you can immediately use for your squat sessions. This is an old bodybuilding style called “Breathing Squat”.

Usually this is done with a barbell back squat. However, you can also do the following variations:


The premise is simple. You pick a weight that’s roughly equivalent to 15 reps (just before dropping out at the 15 re mark). Make sure you can still maintain perfect technique and a tight core, but you feel the weight and get tired.

But then it gets interesting. With the breathing squat technique, you are actually doing 20 reps. After the 15th rep, take a crouch at the top and take a few breaths (anything between 10-20 seconds at the top is fine). Then you will do another rep. Pause again, breathe, and express another rep. Do this until you reach 20 and then pick up the weights again.

I like to use this as a squat variation, doing 2-3 sets at the beginning of my lower body session or as part of a full body session. You can also use this as a finisher for a lower body or full body day and do a set to end your workout session.

This may take a little experimentation to get the right weight, but keep in mind that after 15 repetitions you should be very, very tired but not lose shape. Each rep after that is challenging, and you should want to rest between each rep. Don’t put the weight down until you’ve completed all 20.


This is an advanced technique, so I wouldn’t recommend squatting breathing for beginners. Master your squats before taking them.

If you’re doing traditional barbell back squats, make sure your rack has a safety bar or pins that you can use to reinstall the bar from the bottom of the squat in case you get too tired to complete the repetition. If this is your first time trying this technique, let a spotter assist you.

You may want to start with the KB / DB variations described earlier in this article because it is easier to deflate the weight when needed.

Try this variant of the squat and leave a comment below about how it went for you.

For more intensity techniques and squat variations, see the following articles:

Intensity Techniques by Nicole Wilkins
Squat variations by Gina Aliotti
Bench Kettlebell Squat by Tawna Eubanks

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