POWERbreathe K3 - strengthening muscles forgotten

Our friend and distributor in the Czech Republic, TrueconneXion, were contacted recently by Freeride.cz, probably the most famous magazine that focuses on extreme sports in the Czech Republic. They asked if they could test the POWERbreathe K3 as they wanted to write an article for their cycling readership, after the article editor realised that the deficiency in strength he felt in his legs during cycling was actually down to a problem with his breathing. During prolonged exercise he found himself to be out of breath which subsequently restricted his performance. So he got in touch with Speedweaponry at TrueconneXion to see if he could borrow the POWERbreathe K3 for a month.

Here’s a translation of the review (translated as best we could), although you can read the original on www.freeride.cz

POWERbreathe K3 - strengthening muscles forgotten

In our series of articles we’ve discussed muscle regeneration, and today's article will focus on strengthening muscles. But the muscles we’ll be looking at strengthening are not commonly thought necessary to train; muscles you wouldn’t have thought about training. In today's article we look at the POWERbreathe K3 device, which strengthens the diaphragm and intercostal muscles.

I've been thinking about what to write before the racing season starts and I remembered what I had always complained about when racing. Despite the strenuous workouts during the season I always complained of what I thought were deficiencies in leg strength. It was not. The problem was my breathing. During prolonged exercise, when I was out of breath it restricted my performance. I came across a product Powerbreathe that dealt with this subject, so I did not hesitate and called the boys from Speedweaponry and I asked if I could borrow this machine.

POWERbreathe is manufactured in several models with different levels of difficulty, but fundamentally they are divided into mechanical and electronic versions. The mechanical versions operate on the principle of mechanical resistance during inspiration and are the cheaper option. I got to use electronic K3 version i.e. the middle of the five electronic versions of POWERbreathe. But before we go into more information and results from my tests, I must introduce the K3.

The K3 is about 12 cm tall and 6 cm wide, fits perfectly in your hand and weighs 150 grams. On the front side there is an LCD display and below are two control buttons. At the top of the unit is the easily removable mouthpiece with resistance fans, which, after each training session must be removed and washed with water as the mouthpiece can get covered in saliva.

What is the POWERbreathe K3?

The POWERbreathe K3 works using rapid response electronically controlled valves, which create resistance during inspiration. During a training session, the respiratory muscles are forced to work harder to develop more power to open the valve, in a similar way as when you train in the gym with dumbbells. During training you are forced to breathe deeper and with more power which leads to the strengthening of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. With regular and prolonged use you should reduce the feeling of shortness of breath, accelerate degradation of lactic acid from the body and increase your overall performance.

So how do I use it?

First I went through the training with the vendor who offered basic information about using and caring for the K3. After taking in the necessary information we jointly set up my profile (age, weight, height). After the automatic resistance (resistance level will be set after the first two breaths), I was able to start a test: S-Index = 153cmH₂O; Flow = 8.3 L/s; Volume = 3.9 litres. But what, I wondered, do these values all mean?

S-index measures the strength of your respiratory muscles, and with my value at 153cmH₂O the K3 reported this to be ‘Good’. Flow shows the maximum rate or speed of inhalation, and Volume measures the amount of air I inhaled during the test. The test may be repeated at any time independently of the training. It's such a good indicator of what's happening.

The training cycle

Training was carried out twice a day, regularly at half past eight in the morning and around seven in the evening. Training consists of a total of thirty breaths and it took about three minutes. The first two breaths are without resistance, and then depending on the strength of these breaths the resistance is then set for subsequent breaths. In the beginning I struggled a bit with the technique, I took breaks or I breathed too slowly. It helped me a lot using the nose clip, thanks to which I eliminated another mistake, as I had unknowingly breathed through my nose. I also learned that I needed to exhale slowly, giving me the opportunity to relax my muscles and prevent hyperventilation. After a few cycles, I didn’t need to pause. I began to enjoy it.

Despite my short-term experience with Powerbreathe I’ve felt improvement with my breathing, and proof of this are the results taken from the graphs on the device which I wrote down on paper. My device after each training cycle showed a total of four values Load, Power, Volume and T-Index. Load is a measure of the resistance to inhalation and is equivalent to the ‘weight lifted’ or force exerted by the inspiratory muscles. You could say that it is a power that develops the lungs, so the higher the value the better. My highest value was 84 cmH₂O. Power is an indicator of muscle performance, which includes strength and speed of movement. Thus, stronger muscles are more resistant to fatigue. My highest value was 15.3 Watts. Volume as I mentioned before is the volume for one breath. I had a 4.4 L. T-index, or the measure of effectiveness of my training session. My most effective workout was 82%.

During testing, I felt that my workouts were quite effective and muscle power values from the second half did not fall under 10 Watts, although quite interestingly I found that morning versus evening workouts were much lower values. It was probably caused by the muscles after sleep still being in sleep mode.

Warm up - cool down mode

The POWERbreathe K3 also trains the respiratory muscles to warm up before exercise, and even calm the breathing after exercise, for better recovery. The Warm up mode is good to use before the race, maybe a quick sprint, preferably 5 to 10 minutes before the start. It is a fast 30 breaths to about 80% of normal training load. The body quickly gets to the level of racing heartbeats and breathing rate. Conversely cool down mode prepares 60 very slow breaths with minimal resistance.

Almost no maintenance...

With regard to product maintenance, there is almost none. After each use you just need to submerge the mouthpiece in warm water for about 10 minutes and then wash off. That is all. Then there is recharging the machine. Although the charging process takes about 16 hours initially, a charge lasts about 12 training cycles. Otherwise, no other maintenance is required.

Finally,

Unfortunately we only had this device for strengthening the respiratory muscles for one month. In order to see ground-breaking results we would need to use POWERbreathe for a longer period of time. Despite this, I felt improvement. My Strength-Index increased to 191 cmH₂O, nearly 40 cmH₂O more. Flow increased by 1.7 l / s and the volume of air in one breath grew to 4.5 titres. 

It was a good experience to try and I personally would consider purchasing one, although probably a more affordable mechanical version. But with an LCD display and an overview of the training values, I would probably recommend the K3 to all those who are devoted to racing and want to breathe more efficiently to increase their endurance.

Read more about why you should include POWERbreathe IMT as part of your cycling training, or if you’re a cyclist and are already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear about how you’ve benefited from this breathing training. You can also read more about POWERbreathe and cycling training in the Blog's Cycling category.

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