This brief overview about how breathing works explains what physically happens when you breathe and what controls your breathing. It also looks at your breathing system and the muscles you use to breathe. Furthermore, it highlights how breathing training with POWERbreathe IMT has a positive effect on your breathing muscles, by increasing breathing strength, power and endurance.

How breathing works

Your breathing system comprises of tissues and organs that help you to breathe. It consists of your airways, lungs and blood vessels, and the muscles that enable you to breathe.

Your Airways

Your airways are made up of your nose, mouth, larynx, trachea, bronchial tubes and bronchi. Not only do your airways carry oxygen-rich air to your lungs, but they also carry away the waste gas carbon dioxide.

As air enters your nose or mouth, it wets and warms it before it travels down your larynx (voicebox) and into your trachea (windpipe). This splits into two bronchial tubes which enter your lungs. Your lungs then divide into five main sections called lobes.

Muscles of your breathing system

Your breathing muscles include your diaphragm, intercostals, abdominals and muscles in your neck and collarbone area (the accessory muscles). The main muscles of breathing fit around the lungs like semi-rigid bellows.

Muscles that are helpful in expanding the thoracic cavity are called the inspiratory muscles because they help in inhalation, while those that compress the thoracic cavity are called expiratory muscles and they induce exhalation



Your diaphragm is the main muscle you use for breathing. It is a dome-like shape and located below your lungs, separating your chest cavity from your abdominal cavity. As you breathe in, your diaphragm contracts and draws air in. Breathing out is more passive, with the rib cage and chest wall relaxing and returning to their original position. There is an exception to this however, and that is during high exertion which is when you recruit your accessory expiratory muscles.


Your intercostals are also primary inspiratory muscles and these are found between your ribs.  Like the diaphragm, they also play a major role in helping you to breathe. They expand your chest as you breathe in. 

Improve how breathing works with POWERbreathe IMT

POWERbreathe IMT is a drug-free, hand-held breathing training device. The medical term for this type of breathing training is Inspiratory Muscle Training, or IMT.  POWERbreathe IMT exercises the main muscles you use to breathe in, primarily your diaphragm and intercostals. In the video below, we explain exactly what is POWERbreathe IMT.

What Is POWERbreathe IMT?

How it does this is by using the principles of resistance training. You breathe in through the device against an adjustable resistance, making your breathing muscles work harder. As a result, your breathing muscles become stronger and more resistant to fatigue. It works in much the same way as dumbbells do for increasing the strength of your biceps. In fact, POWERbreathe IMT is often termed “dumbbells for your diaphragm”.

As you inhale through your POWERbreathe IMT device against the resistance, you notice that you have to work harder to breathe in. When you breathe out there is no resistance. You simply exhale as you do normally, allowing your chest and breathing muscles to relax and naturally push air out of your lungs. Find out more in the video below.

How To Perform The Correct Breathing Technique For POWERbreathe IMT

The benefits of breathing training with POWERbreathe IMT can be shown in sport and fitness, in the performing arts for musicians, singers and dancers, for health and medical conditions, and in the uniformed services.