My Top 2 Breathing Exercises For Singing Effortlessly

In this article, I want to cover my top 2 breathing exercises for singing which will help you to sing effortlessly. It’s obvious that breathing is absolutely fundamental to singing, but you would be surprised a how many singers do not breathe correctly when singing, and it can cause all kinds of issues, such as running out of breath during a phrase etc.

Before we get into the exercises, I want to cover what actually proper breathing is, so that when you get to the exercises, you are practicing the right thing. So let’s explore my top breathing exercises for singing.

What is Correct Breathing?

top breathing exercises for singing image 1Correct breathing is actually quite simple – you simply inhale, then exhale. So why then is this something that many singers struggle with?

I think it is because people think that breathing is somehow different when singing as opposed to other activities.

Actually, in some ways they are correct, breathing for singing is different in certain areas, and we will explore these now.

There is two parts to breathing; inhalation and exhalation, breathing in and breathing out. Let’s explore inhalation for a moment.

Inhalation is really the easy part of breathing and we do it quote naturally every day of our lives. The only difference for singing is that you need a deeper breath to sustain the singing line.

To inhale correctly for singing, put your hands on your sides just above your hips, and then breath deeply in. You should feel an outward expansion of your sides against your hands.

This is sometimes called the 360 degree breath because it expands your abdomen outwards in all directions.

When you breath like this, your shoulders should not rise, nor do you need to force the air in to try and lower your diaphragm, as it will naturally flatten as you take your breath.

Now let’s explore exhalation, because this is where things get a little tricky….

When we exhale, this is where the concept of support comes in or “singing from your diaphragm” as it is also known.

Once you have filled your lungs and your diaphragm is naturally at its lowest point, lift or pull your abdominal muscles up towards your diaphragm as you start to sing.

This collision between the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm will automatically close the vocal cords by reflex action, allowing you to sing without any interference from the swallowing muscles.

So when you sing, you just don’t exhale, you lift the abdominal muscles upwards against the diaphragm to close the vocal cords.

If you just exhale and don’t support properly, the swallowing muscles will close the vocal cords, which can lead to vocal troubles down the track.

So now you know what correct breathing looks like for singers, let’s now explore my top breathing exercises for singing…

top breathing exercises for singing image 3

Top Breathing Exercises For Singing #1 – 360 Degree Breath

As I mentioned above, when we inhale, we want to take a deep breath and without any movement from the shoulders or forcing the diaphragm flat.

The exercise is the same as above, stand with your hands on your sides, just above your hips, and then breathe in. The extra piece, is to practice this in front of a mirror to make sure you don’t have any bad habits. Make sure that you feel your arms move outwards as you lungs expand and your diaphragm flattens.

If you don’t feel your sides move in an outward direction, you may be shallow breathing. One indicator of shallow breathing is movement of the shoulders i.e. your shoulders rise when you breathe in.

Practicing in front of a mirror helps you to catch these bad habits and start to break them.

If you do have bad breathing habits, make sure that when you sing, you practice in front of a mirror as well, so you can see when you are doing it and start to fix it.

Top Breathing Exercises For Singing #2 – The Lift

top breathing exercises for singing image 2While the first exercise looked at breathing in, this exercise focuses on breathing out.

Basically, this exercise is about practicing the mechanism of support without singing.

The idea is to to inhale, then lift the ab muscles upwards, sustain the lift,then release, breathe in again and repeat.

You can do this at home lying in bed before you get up, in the shower, on the bus, anywhere really.

The goal is to get so used to the sensation of support that it starts to become more natural in your singing much faster.

You also get used to supporting without having to worry about singing when you first start practicing this.

So there you have it – my top breathing exercises for singing.


So you now know what correct breathing is and what it is not and you also have a couple of exercises that you can start practicing to help you start to sing better.

I hope you found this article informative and you can put the knowledge you have gained into practice.

I wish you success in all your singing endeavors.

Andy Barnes

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  • Tony Newton

    Reply Reply November 20, 2015

    Could you explain “Lifting the ab muscles” further please and how to “lift the abdominal muscles upwards against the diaphragm to close the vocal cords.”

    Thank you so much-Tony

    • Annick

      Reply Reply December 22, 2015

      I Have the same question ! Thank you.

    • Edwin

      Reply Reply August 22, 2016

      same question, how do i lift the muscles, does that just mean contracting them as in when doing pushups or does that mean lifting up the chest

      • Andy Barnes

        Reply Reply August 25, 2016

        Hi Tony,

        You just lift your abdominal muscles upwards towards the diaphragm. Your chest should stay still, or stick out slightly.

        Contacting your muscles like when you do push ups will not help as you need to lift the abdominal bulk upwards, so when it connects with the diaphragm the vocal cords will close by reflex.

  • uche

    Reply Reply June 22, 2016

    Awesome and in depth article… Thanks for sharing

    • Andy Barnes

      Reply Reply June 28, 2016

      thanks – really appreciate it

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