Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take

Every move you make

I’ll be watching you

The Police

Many seemed interested in the topic of breathing so I decided to share some of what I know.

I will begin with a simple test that anyone can do to get an idea of how well they are breathing and their general level of health. The BOLT or Body Oxygen Level Test, also known as a CP or controlled pause, is something I do every morning to gauge how I am doing in regards to my breathing practice. I have always been a bad breather. I mouth breathe, especially at night. When I began measuring my morning BOLT is was consistently around 20 seconds. Not real good. I thought I was in decent shape.

The ideal score for a healthy person is 40 seconds. The lower the score equals greater breathing volume which may lead to breathlessness during exercise and a variety of other health issues. Why are BOLT scores lower today than when our grandparents were knee high to a grasshopper? The simple answer is that modern humans experience more stress on a daily basis. We are constantly are on the go and our daily routines are not conducive to proper breathing. We sit too much hunched over desks while playing on cell phones and eating foods and chugging drinks that are often convenient and expedient, but generally toxic to our system. Additionally, our indoor climates are controlled so that we never experience extremes of temperature. We never are uncomfortable. Lastly, our busy lifestyles and being constantly on the go ironically limit our perceived time availability to exercise and move in a healthy manner.


  • Rest for a bit before testing or do upon waking once you are up and about for 5-10 minutes

  • Best not to do this after a meal-empty belly=better

  • When you are ready to measure inhale normally through your nose and then exhale out through your nose

  • After the exhale immediately pinch your nose shut with your fingers

  • Time how long it takes for you to feel the first desire or urge to breathe.

  • This desire is usually felt in the diaphragm or by an urge to swallow

  • ***This is not a test to see or measure how long you can hold your breath. It is a measure to see how long it takes your body to react to a lack of air-this is a big difference.

  • When you feel the desire to take a breath remove your fingers from your nose and stop or look at the timer.

  • Now breathe in through your nose in a calm manner-you should not feel like you have to gasp for air.

Carbon dioxide is the main stimulus for breathing. The length of your breath hold is directly related and influenced by how much CO2 you can tolerate. When you hold your breath (CP) carbon dioxide accumulates in the lungs and blood.

A lower BOLT score, 20 s. or less, can indicate that you are sensitive to CO2 and this in turn will lead to a greater breathing volume. You are over breathing. When you over breathe then the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen is disrupted. Carbon dioxide is needed so that oxygen is transported to your body’s cells and tissues.  How we breathe determines our body’s level of CO2. If we are stressed and in turn over breathe, then we expel too much CO2 and then our body cannot efficiently use oxygen. If we breathe correctly then CO2 will be balanced inside of us leading to the proper delivery of oxygen to our muscles and organs.

An individual with a BOLT score of 20 or less will generally deal with issues such as a clogged nose, coughing and wheezing, and disrupted sleep along with lots of snoring. Exercising may result in being easily fatigued and breathlessness. It will not matter if you exercise intensely, take the top of the line supplements and do yoga with a Nepalese guru, if your morning BOLT remains low you will not improve health wise. Earlier I shared that my initial BOLT scores were around 20 seconds. I am pleased that through practice and breathing drills my scores are generally in the neighborhood of 30-35 seconds. That is the key…practice and discipline. We must retrain our brain to breathe properly. Normally we do not have to think about breathing, but due to the demands and stresses of life we now do.

Buteyko thought that a CP of 60 seconds and above was ideal health. When the CP is high then oxygenation of the cells is also high. The chance of getting diseases is significantly lessened.

An interesting thing is that in studies it shows that breathing is heaviest for most people from 4 AM-7AM. CP is lowest during these early morning hours. Sick people are more likely to die at this time. Why? Breathing is heaviest and body oxygen is lowest. Personally I am never sleeping during this time and may be fooling the grim reaper… for now.


Start with the morning BOLT Test. Then work on some breathing. Belly breathing is the key. Diaphragmatic breathing aids in lymphatic drainage-the diaphragm is a lymphatic pump. Initially, strive for a consistent BOLT score of 30 s. 24/7. When this occurs then belly/diaphragmatic breathing will become automatic. Before I do any breathing drills I reset my diaphragm using techniques I garnered from RPR. A quick drill gets me belly breathing and this is vital.

A breathing drill I currently use consists of sitting on a bench press with my back up against my Earthquake bar that is racked. I sit with an upright torso as if I was a scarecrow with a broomstick up my back. I place my hands on my knees and relax all muscles. I may play music at a low volume and I like the lights to be dimmed. The temperature is a bit cooler because I am in my weight room downstairs in the basement. I begin by taking light breaths inhaling through my nose. I primarily exhale through my nose as well, but the exhalation can be through the mouth. I practice reduced breathing. That is, I take small inhalations using my diaphragm and nose only and pausing to breathe between breaths so that a light air hunger exists. I do this for rounds of 3-4 minutes. Why? Exposing oneself to reduced oxygen intake for a short period of time will improve your body’s oxygen carrying capacity.

Another drill I practice is to do light breathing followed by what I call unclogs. I breathe lightly for 3-4 minutes and then when I feel comfortable I pinch my nose and tilt my head back and forth averaging a full tilt every 3 seconds. The head tilt is like a super exaggerated head movement as if nodding yes. The first round I perform 10 head tilts and I usually take 30 seconds. When the head tilts are completed I take one breath using my nose and hold my breath for 20-30 seconds. I then breathe lightly for 1-2 minutes followed by a second round of 15 tilts. I finish with 20-25 head tilts with the breathe hold during the tilts being approximately 1 minute.


  • Light breaths using diaphragm and nose only-3-4 minutes

  • Round one I pinch nose and do 10 head tilts

  • After head tilts I take one nasal breath and hold for 20-30 seconds

  • I then breathe light for 1-2 minutes

  • I then pinch nose and do 15 head tilts-45 seconds

  • I then take one deep breath and hold for 20-30 seconds

  • I breathe light for 1-2 minutes

  • I pinch nose and try for 20-25 head tilts-60 seconds or more.

  • I finish with a breath hold for 20-30 seconds.

Breathing in the morning will energize you for the day and it will plant in your mind to focus on correct breathing even when the day’s stresses are coming at you like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew.

Just breathe.


B Briefly on Breathing

We’re excited to introduce a series of content by Glenn Buechlein! Glenn is a legend in physical culture, but also - and probably more importantly - an educator. Any introduction we could give would pale in comparison to Paul Leonard’s. Go read that, then come back here!

We’re excited to partner with Glenn because he truly embodies the power that comes with living 1-2-3. Enjoy!

B Briefly on Breathing

by Glenn Buechlein

I am now 52 years old and I have worked out or lifted weights non-stop for approximately 35 years.

Along the way I have competed and picked up a variety of certifications. I have read a library of books on the topic of strength and conditioning and have written in the neighborhood of two dozen published articles. Oh yeah, and a book, The Tao of B.

In the past year, especially after learning about Be Activated and RPR, I have come to the conclusion that something we all take for granted is the key to overall health and well being. If one chooses to eat clean and diet, do P90X, compete in a Tough Mudder, powerlift, run a mini, etc. nothing will be optimal unless there is a focus on correct breathing. Breathing plays second fiddle to nothing. Breathing is Batman and all the other things are Robin.

Take a deep breath…

Actually disregard the previous statement.

I will share some key things I discovered about breathing. These may be a bit random because that is how I think.

  • When stressed we will breathe faster and more often

  • When stressed we will breathe with the upper chest

  • When stressed we tend to mouth breathe and sigh more

  • When we breathe too hard or over breathe we get rid of too much carbon dioxide

  • When we get rid of too much carbon dioxide then oxygen cannot be efficiently transported to all the body’s tissues.

  • When your circulatory system is laid end to end it would circumnavigate the earth at the equator 3 X.

  • When we were born we belly breathed (diaphragmatic) and we breathed through our nose.

  • When do we stop doing this?

  • When we breathe through the nose we release nitric oxide that dilates the blood vessels and enhances the amount of O2 taken up by the blood. Drink beet juice.

  • When we nose breathe the diaphragm is activated and we get into the parasympathetic instead of the sympathetic (fight or flight)

  • When we mouth breathe it can change our appearance and facial structure.

  • When we breathe less, it is actually more.

  • When we mouth breathe while sleeping we will wake up tired.

  • When we breathe correctly in the proper pattern then our movement will improve.

  • When breathing pattern disorders exist this will have a negative effect on functional movement.

  • When we breathe with the upper chest it may lead to neck pain, TMJ, low back pain and overall poor posture including forward head placement.

  • When we chest breathe accessory muscles are forced to work harder such as the scalene, SCM, and traps. Basically this leads to a pain in the neck.

  • When I do my daily breathing drills I consider it a workout. I can mimic high altitude training and can enhance O2 delivery as well as unclogging my nose. Warning: High altitude training can make your legs shakier than constructing a Jenga tower on top of a jackhammer.

  • When I help people breathe correctly while working out or lifting weights they consistently perform better and feel better.

  • When you really focus on breathing it should be separate from the exercise.

  • When you know how to activate your diaphragm then it is much easier to learn how to belly breathe.

I have spent a great deal of time researching breathing. It may sound mundane, but it is beyond fascinating. I have experimented with Wim Hof style breathing, but I personally adhere to the principles of Buteyko. Some good reads on the topic are The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown and Advanced Buteyko Breathing Exercises by Artour Rakhimov.

I have always been somewhat of a mouth breather. I have made progress in becoming a better breather. It takes time and patience as well as discipline and commitment. I did not become a big bencher overnight and I am wise enough that it will take many turns of the clock and changes in the season for me to be a primo breather. I designed my own breathing workout that I do each morning. It is mine. I will share it, but do not be reluctant to get your own. Do some research and experiment. You will then discover what you need to do to improve.

So…do not take a deep breath. Do not enhance or amplify what you were doing to get into a state of stress. Rather, take a light breath… breathe lightly in and out your nose.