We talk a lot about the importance of strengthening your diaphragm. This is important for developing overall breathing power and endurance, but there is another side to the breath. The exhale. The diaphragm primarily drives the inhale. The pelvic floor on the other hand is the primary driver along with the abdominals in forcing the air out.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles located under your abdomen. It is literally at the floor of your pelvis. Training this area is extraordinarily important for athletic performance. You need to be able to easily and continuously drive the air and CO2 out to avoid an overwhelming amount of lactic acid. Even if you have a strong diaphragm being unable to drive the air during the exhale can prove just as costly.
Having a weak pelvic floor in general has dire consequences (check out the rise in adult diapers, but we won’t go there). These happen simply because we don’t train these important muscles even as athletes. Fortunately the breath provides an easy way to activate the pelvic floor and feel the effectiveness of the training.
The easiest way to train these muscles is simply by exhaling every possible ounce of air out. Try this by laying down on your back with your feet up. Then with each exhale squeeze all the air out using your abdomen. When you think you have all the air out try to push 3 more sips of air out before breathing back in. If you do this you will almost certainly feel muscles squeeze deep between your hips. This can be uncomfortable if you have never trained this area before, but the more you access these muscles the greater endurance you will build. Overall health and stability for your abdomen will also increase.