Influence of breathing technique on arterial blood pressure during heavy weight lifting

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1995 May;76(5):457-62. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(95)80578-8.


Arterial hypertension occurring during heavy resistance exercise may be a risk factor for stroke in healthy young adults. Any training method that ameliorates the pressor effect of exercise should reduce the risk of stroke. The objective of this study was to observe the influence of breathing technique on arterial blood pressure (BP) generated during heavy, dynamic weight lifting. BP was recorded in 10 male athletes by radial artery catheterization. Each subject then performed double-leg press sets at 85% and 100% of maximum. Each exercise was performed twice, once with closed glottis Valsalva, and then with slow exhalation during concentric contraction. The mean BP at 100% maximum with Valsalva was 311/284. The highest pressure recorded in an individual was 370/360. With slow exhalation, the mean BP was 198/175 when the same 100% maximum was lifted (p < .005). A reduced pressor response was also noted at 85% maximal lifting with slow exhalation. Arterial hypertension produced during heavy weight lifting with Valsalva is extreme and may be dramatically reduced when the exercise is performed with an open glottis (without Valsalva). It is concluded that heavy resistance exercise is safer when performed while the subject breathes with an open glottis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Respiration*
  • Valsalva Maneuver
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*