Rich's breath is mainly used for yapping.

Rich’s breath is mainly used for yapping.

Catch your breath quickly now, while you may…Breath is the least appreciated gift of the gods. None sing hymns to it, praising the good air, breathed by king and beggar, master and dog alike. But, oh to be without it? Appreciate each breath…as though it were your last…                                           Zelazny, “Lord of Light”

Truly breath is under-appreciated. And CrossFit pays far less attention to the breath than other activities–yoga or martial arts for example. I once tried to get three of my athletes, all Games competitors, to do breathing exercises and it was an exercise all right, in futility. Converse to the importance normally placed upon it in CrossFit, the ability to control your breath is of great benefit. There are a bunch of ways to improve your breath control, ranging from the goofy (and expensive) to the simple. One way is to purposefully restrict breathing. Learning to survive and prosper with less airflow is one way to control your breath. On the expensive end are the “elevation” masks (restricted air does not mimic altitude), but a plus of the masks is that you look like a complete kook. A hugely cheaper, and less kooky, alternative is a boxing mouth piece. Another way to restrict breathing is with a weight vest. By taking out the weight, you can get pretty much the same restricted airflow without weighing yourself down. The simplest way to learn breath control is to just be conscious of your breathing. Try not to gulp in air. Regulating your breath (ie, taking less breaths in any given length of time) will  lower your heart rate, all bonuses to a CrossFitter in the middle of a WOD. Spare a little thought for your breath control and it will pay dividends.