The tried and tested POWERbreathe protocol for Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) has sport and clinical science at its heart. In fact, it is the rigorous and systematic testing that identified the most effective breathing training protocol of 30 breaths twice a day.

POWERbreathe Protocol Established Following 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 The POWERbreathe Breathing Protocol Requires Hard and Fast Breaths In

study into explosive contraction supports the reasoning behind why the POWERbreathe breathing training protocol must be hard and fast.

Types of Training Specificity

In the Journal of Applied Physiology (2016) the study compares the effects of two types of training specificity for strength training:

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

Study Findings

Trial participants performed different contractions on the quadriceps muscles located on the front of the thigh.  During ECT they needed to contract as fast and as hard as possible for 1 second. This gradually increased before holding for 3 seconds with SCT. 

The study’s findings show that ECT produces a wider range of functional adaptations than SCT. It also says that “given the lesser demands of ECT, this type of training provides a highly efficient means of increasing function.”

Why Explosive-Contraction Strength Training (ECT) is Best

Dr Jonathan Folland at Loughborough University led the study. He shows that explosive contractions are easier and a less tiring way of increasing strength and functional capacity of the muscles. Therefore it is a highly efficient method of training. And the method works by assisting the nervous system in ‘switching on’ and activating the trained muscles to increase their strength.

POWERbreathe Protocol Uses Principle of Explosive Contraction

When training with POWERbreathe we recommend that you inhale quickly and forcefully, or with explosive contraction. This switches on the breathing muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, and trains them to become stronger.

Why Is The Recommended Training Protocol 30 Breaths Twice A Day?

POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training recommends a training protocol of 30 breaths twice a day because:

In this study, participants showed that the number of breathing repetitions declined as the breathing load increased, as did breathing volume. Also, the study found that 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 and Tapered Flow Resistive Loading

The POWERbreathe Classic and POWERbreathe Plus IMT devices use a spring loaded valve that is calibrated to open once you’re able to generate the selected pressure (measured in centimetres of water cmH20) and is known as threshold resistance training.  

Threshold resistance is a more effective training method than the basic flow resistance because you have to be able to generate enough pressure to open the valve, whereas with flow training devices you can always breathe through the device as the holes are always open (often likened to breathing through a straw). 

The POWERbreathe K-Series is an electronically controlled ‘tapered flow’ resistance breathing muscle training device that uses a computer controlled rotary valve to create the resistance to breathing. This means that the resistance to breathing is not fixed at the same level throughout the breath (like a pressure threshold device), because it automatically reduces the resistance as you progress through your breath, to match your declining muscle strength.

Basically, you will be able to perform a longer inspiration and use a wider range of breathing muscles, because you can breathe in after the point where the fixed resistance of a pressure threshold valve would have closed. The result? Higher flow and higher tidal volumes can be achieved which will maximize your training. Basically, it makes the training feel easier but you’re actually working harder and will therefore achieve better results.

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.”

Watch How To Use POWERbreathe on YouTube

Have a look at How POWERbreathe Works on our YouTube channel. You will also find a video showing the proper breathing technique of explosive-contraction strength training i.e. breathing in quickly and forcefully.