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Be About It

CPC's Blog About Health and Wellness

To Grunt or Not To Grunt?….That is the question.

Wednesday, 3 / 22 / 17

The fact is, people have been grunting since the dawn of time, early humans probably used a series of grunts and other noises as a form of communication. In today’s society grunting may bring about some awkward glances from those around you, especially in certain social situations. When was the last time you were in Starbucks, picked up your coffee off the counter, let out a loud grunt, pounded the entire contents and then slammed the empty cup on the floor then stormed out the door? Exactly, never! It’s not acceptable, it’s weird, it’s rude, doesn’t make sense, but if it did happen I guarantee it would be f’ing hilarious. So is it ever appropriate to grunt and is there really any use or meaning to a grunt?

There are many scenarios where a grunt may take place. Let’s take a closer look at those that happen while working out. If you don’t do it yourself then you know someone who does. We all know someone that does it. It may be very discrete (grunts come in all shapes and sizes) or it can be loud distracting and noticeable. I feel a who, what, where, when, and how approach to tackling the grunt debate will be best.

WHO? Anyone. We pretty much established that already, not everyone may do it, but everyone has the ability to do it….moving on.

WHAT? The grunt, yes, that’s what we are talking about. But it’s not just grunting per se, people have their own ways of vocalizing “effort” while working out. It can be anything from a low guttural GRUNT to a high pitched shriek or yell and anything in between really. Working in the fitness industry for as long as I have and in many different settings, you hear some pretty weird shit.

WHERE? Well, wherever you workout. If you workout at home maybe you grunt there, if you workout at CPC (which you damn well better should….at least for a class or two) then I know a lot of you do, if you workout somewhere else– then there. Some places I have heard have banned grunting or other audible noises while working out, if you are caught doing so your membership may be revoked. I won’t name names but we’ll call this place PF. CPC has never had such policies, if you’re gonna grunt then grunt away, unlike PF we’re not all that worried about offending or scaring people.

WHEN? This is a good one. When to grunt or when do people grunt? It varies person to person really. Some people do it before a set of exercises, some do it during, some may do it after, some all three or any combination therein. There is really no right answer here (or to anything I’ve been talking about thus far) so whatever feels right, feels comfortable, and works for you….go for it.

WHY? Ah, now to some of the meat and potatoes. Why do we do it? I’m going to give you some of my opinions and honestly that’s really all that is out there. There haven’t been many studies or scientific analysis done with grunting so a lot of the information out there are just people’s opinions. I’ll give you my list of reasons why I think people may do it or why it may be helpful.

As long as people are inclined to lift weights, move furniture and have sex, the well-timed grunt will never die.
Janet Cromley
LA Times
  1. Focus, for some letting out some noise and vocalizing what they are about to attempt to do helps to clear their head and focus on what they are about to do. Focus is good when you’re deadlifting 600lbs, if you’re not, then you’re gonna get hurt.
  2. A subconscious or conscious vocal release after exerting a large amount of effort. Some say that grunting is a very animalistic and primal reaction to such an event, and in some cases we don’t even think about it and can’t help it. Whether it be to assert dominance or just proclaim success of your achievements.
  3. To aid or help boost your performance. Some people have said that grunting can help with your maximal output and effort during a given task. Couple reasons why I think this might be so (and will stand behind it to an extent). Grunting in it’s most basic for no matter what the sound is that comes out is a release of air from inside the chest cavity. When we do this under duress it can help produce or maintain inter-abdominal pressure aka keeping your core and everything in and around it nice and tight and engaged. Which we all know is really the foundation of any movement we do, from a bench press to a squat to a deadlift. Without a stable base or foundation everything falls apart and we get hurt, if you need to grunt to do that, then by all means grunt and save yourself the injury.
  4. You’re a douche! Some people just do it for that reason alone, they don’t really have a reason other than they want to be heard. We’ve all seen that douche looking at themselves in the mirror (not at CPC of course) doing bicep curls and grunting like it’s their job. Don’t be that guy!

HOW? Breathe, first and foremost just breathe. If you grunt and some noise comes out, fine, if not, fine, but just breathe and focus on keeping everything solid and tight. Exert the force = Exhale DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH! Plain and simple.

So that’s my take on the grunt. Love or hate that grunt, either way, but it’s not going anywhere so you might as well learn to deal with it. To quote Janet Cromley from the LA Times "As long as people are inclined to lift weights, move furniture and have sex, the well-timed grunt will never die.”

TAGS: Grunt, Breath, Weightlifting, Exercise, Core Engagement