Grunt Work December 6, 2016
Grunt Work December 6, 2016

We’ve all heard (or heard of) The Grunter. The Grunter is usually stereotyped as “that guy” who distracts others with his weight lifting noises that can only be equated to a peacock spreading his feathers to say, “Look at me!” But is there more to it? Yes, there definitely can be.

Why DON’T Some People Grunt?

Let’s start with the obvious:

Why DO Some People Grunt?

It can help! Seriously, both physiologically and psychologically.

Physiologically, performing max-effort, explosive movements is usually prepped for by holding one’s breath for a moment or two (which is good because it fills the belly and protects the spine). This creates an air ball. When we forcefully exhale that ball through partially closed vocal cords—like when power lifting, or whacking a tennis ball, for example—a noise escapes with the air.

Psychologically, hearing yourself make noise on those max efforts may trigger some primal instinct to keep pushing, thereby helping you crank out that extra 1 or 2 reps. Reminding ourselves how hard we’re working can further motivate us to keep pushing the same way flattering selfies can motivate us.

When to Grunt

If you can move the same weight, hit the same ball, or sprint the same speed quietly, then there’s no need to grunt (except to risk irritating your neighbors!). If you can’t help but make noise on those heavy sets, then don’t worry; there’s no shame letting others hear how hard you’re working. Maybe you’ll even inspire them to push a little more! I don’t mind admitting I sometimes grunt when working hard.

Are There Other Options?

When I train clients (from powerlifters to weekend warriors), I don’t give the “2 more!” countdown until their effort is intense enough to produce audible exhalation! When training for my own body building competitions, I’ve been known to squeak on those extra tough reps, though I can’t tell when a squeak versus a grunt will emerge. Sometimes an open-mouth forceful exhalation will do the trick, and this sounds more like a strong gust of wind than a grunt.

Many Zumba classes encourage short, loud “Woos!” and “Ohs!” at particularly taxing parts of the dance. If you’ve never taken an intense Zumba class, try it! When you’re working so hard you want to stop and catch your breath but let out a forceful “Ooh!” instead, you’ll get an energy boost and keep going! This can also work on 400 meter dashes and spin class sprints.

Want to Learn More?

Business Insider: “Why do we grunt?”
LA Times: “Those grunts have a purpose.”
Drexel University and MSN: “Grunt when you work out – It really does make you stronger.”
Iron Man Magazine and Drexel University: “Should you grunt while training?”

This post was previously published on the Anytime Fitness blog. PumpOne and Anytime Fitness are both owned by Self Esteem Brands.

PumpOne’s complete workout guidance, tracking and scheduling tools include more than 1,000 workouts, or you can create your own sessions from 7,000 exercise images and videos. Download it from the App Store or Google Play, or sign up at

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