The POWERbreathe IMT training protocol for Inspiratory Muscle Training is backed by solid science from both sports and clinical fields. Through rigorous testing, researchers have identified the most effective breathing training protocol: 30 breaths twice a day.

Protocol Established Through Scientific Testing

  1. Specificity and Reversibility of Inspiratory Muscle Training
  2. Acute Cardiorespiratory Responses to Inspiratory Pressure Threshold Loading
  3. The Inspiratory Muscles can be Trained Differentially to Increase Strength or Endurance Using a Pressure Threshold, Inspiratory Muscle Training Device

Why HARD and FAST Breaths Matter

Research highlights the importance of forceful breathing. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2016) compared two types of strength training:

  • Explosive-contraction (ECT)
  • Sustained-contraction (SCT)

ECT, where muscles contract as hard and fast as possible for a short duration, was found to offer broader functional benefits than SCT. Dr. Jonathan Folland at Loughborough University led this study, showing that explosive contractions efficiently enhance muscle strength and function without causing excessive fatigue.

POWERbreathe therefore recommends forceful inhalations for inspiratory muscle training to activate and strengthen the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. This switches on the breathing muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, and trains them to become stronger.

IMT Training Protocol – Why 30 Breaths Twice a Day?

This IMT training protocol of 30 breaths twice a day maximises training efficiency while allowing sufficient muscle recovery time. Recovery time is important because your inspiratory muscles need around 6 hours to recover after training. A study indicated that this frequency optimally activates the inspiratory muscle metaboreflex, which is crucial for strength gains. It also found that the 60% training load activated the inspiratory muscle metaboreflex, which occurred closest to the 30 breaths-in mark. This implies that the 30-repetition maximum is the point at which the metaboreflex is activated, which is necessary in order to increase its threshold for activation.

Pressure Threshold Loading vs. Tapered Flow Resistive Loading

POWERbreathe IMT uses either pressure threshold loading or tapered flow resistive loading to provide resistance to your in-breath.

Pressure threshold loading

The POWERbreathe Plus and POWERbreathe Classic IMT breathing devices use pressure threshold loading. Pressure threshold resistance requires your in-breath to reach a specific pressure/load on your device to open the calibrated spring-loaded valve.

POWERbreathe Plus IMT

POWERbreathe Classic IMT

Tapered flow resistive loading

The POWERbreathe K-Series of IMT devices use tapered flow resistive loading. Tapered flow gradually adjusts resistance throughout your breath, allowing for longer inspirations and engaging a wider range of muscles.

POWERbreathe K-Series IMT

This study, Training Specificity of Inspiratory Muscle Training Methods: A Randomized Trial concludes that,

“only training with tapered flow resistive loading and pressure threshold loading from functional residual capacity resulted in consistent improvements in respiratory muscle function at higher lung volumes, whereas improvements after the standard protocol (pressure threshold loading from residual volume) were restricted to gains in PImax at lower lung volumes.”

Breathing Training Best Practices For Optimal Gains

  • Follow the IMT training protocol of 30 breaths twice day, remembering to have 6 hours recovery in between sets.
  • Breathing training uses a mouth-based device. Using your mouth for breathing sounds counterintuitive. But this is for breathing ‘training’. It’s this type of training that will subject your breathing muscles to a sufficient stimulus for eliciting improvements. This training specifically targets your breathing muscles to improve breathing muscle strength and stamina and reduce breathing fatigue.
  • POWERbreathe IMT is more effective than aerobic exercise for improving your breathing strength and stamina. This is because aerobic exercise is not sufficient to elicit the full potential of your breathing muscles.
  • Isolated breathing training is recommended initially, as a training adjunct to your other workouts. This is because some muscle groups respond best to a period of isolated training. With isolated training, you are developing a strong foundation. This is important before moving on to maintenance training, or more practical training methods, such as functional breathing training.

Functional Breathing Training

After approximately 6 weeks of isolated foundational training, incorporate IMT into sports-specific movements. This will enhance overall performance, as well as, core stabilisation, posture, and trunk rotation.