Charity Bike Ride Begins at Briançon

Four amateur cyclists from RAF Coningsby Ground System Support Flight are currently training for their 3 Peaks of Briançon Charity Bike Ride. In addition to their cycling training, they are using POWERbreathe IMT, in preparation for the breathing challenges ahead.

Difficulty breathing when cycling

The simple design of a bike will affect the position of the body. And the design of a road bike is made with aerodynamics in mind. For the RAF team, each rider will also make their body aerodynamic too. This means they will be continuously bending forward over the handlebars. This results in the shoulders pulling away from the spine, the rib cage flattening and the ribs descending. In addition, the organs in the abdomen push the diaphragm up. And as the diaphragm is the main breathing muscle, this compression restricts its normal movement. Consequently breathing becomes more difficult.

RAF charity bike ride

The four members of the RAF team are planning to conquer three of the toughest and most gruelling peaks the Alps have to offer. These are the Col d’Izoard, Col du Chaussy and the Col du Galibier. Furthermore, they plan to conquer them in three consecutive days. This will present a challenge for their breathing muscle strength and stamina. And altitude too challenges the breathing muscles, and Briançon is at an altitude of 1,326m (4,350ft). Additionally, their legs will have to cope with cycling many miles uphill. So fitness training beforehand is essential. And this is exactly what the team is doing at present.

In Chris’ post, on the team’s Facebook page, he talks about his latest training ride, saying:

“Well I did it! It was hard work, a struggle towards the end. My legs hurt and my bum hurts which is my own fault. Tested my new Velochampion longs out today, they performed well but no matter how good a pad is, you still need to condition. By the end of the ride, everything hurt, except my lungs. Something that I always used to struggle with but not so much anymore. POWERbreathe.”

The objective of this 70-mile sportive training ride is to beat a Personal Best. And it sounds as though the hills are a challenge, not just for the legs, but also for breathing:

“I myself have a distance PB to beat on Sunday in a 70-mile sportive, and the hills are gonna be a burn on the legs. But hopefully, with the help of our trustee POWERbreathe apparatus, the lungs won't feel the burn so much.”

Breathing training for charity bike ride

It’s well accepted that the work of breathing during any form of exercise, including cycling, can be high enough to cause the breathing muscles to fatigue. In fact, research has shown that cycling as little as 20km at race pace induces significant fatigue of the breathing muscles.

A research group at Birmingham University shows that inspiratory muscle training (IMT) improves cycling performance. IMT is the scientific term for breathing muscle training. IMT is shown to reduce breathing fatigue and improve cycling time trial performance. In fact, improvements of 4.6% are shown. This is equivalent to slicing around 2 minutes off a 40k PB. And this is after just 6-weeks of inspiratory muscle training.

POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training targets the breathing muscles, strengthening them by around 30-50%, significantly improving performance and helping to eliminate breathing fatigue.

The scientifically proven training regimen for POWERbreathe IMT is to perform 30 breaths in through the device, twice a day. And that is exactly what the RAF team are doing:

“Resting up tomorrow, apart from the lungs, POWERbreathe every day! As ordered :) ”

Breathing tip for a charity bike ride

Warm-up the breathing muscles prior to the start. Using the POWERbreathe IMT device on a reduced load setting will prepare the breathing muscles for the rigours that the ride will bring. In fact, research shows that a standard pre-exercise warm-up routine fails to prepare the breathing muscles for the rigours of exercise.

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