POWERbreathe in Cycling Fitness magazine, June-August 2013

Cycling Fitness magazine is every cyclist’s definitive guide to taking their fitness and performance to the next level, and is written for dedicated racers and those just starting out.

Each issue is packed with nutritional tips, technical advice and products that help cyclists get the best from their cycling, and this summer’s edition included a double-page case study that used POWERbreathe to help cyclist Dan Gould to “get his breath back”.

As a child Dan was diagnosed with asthma, which caused him to be short of breath and struggle during any form of physical activity. But recently he’s taken up cycling, running and swimming and says,

“Although I was beginning to feel the benefits of the extra exercise, I still felt my lungs were weak and not up to the standards of those of my peers. I was often short of breath and, on occasion, forced to stop while the others pushed on. I wasn’t sure if this was caused by my years of inactivity or my asthma so I decided to investigate and find out if there was any way to measure and improve my breathing.

In previous issues of Cycling Fitness I had read about POWERbreathe so I decided to get in contact with POWERbreathe and arrange a demonstration to help me understand the device a little more.”

And that’s exactly what Dan did. Dan received a comprehensive overview of the benefits of breathing training, and how POWERbreathe works, which was then followed by a breathing test using the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Software. All Dan’s breathing measurements were recorded using the software for analysis one month later after 4-weeks of POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training.

Dan used a POWERbreathe Plus Level 2 (MR) for his daily training and as it was so portable, he took it with him while participating in an 18-day charity ride. Dan started his POWERbreathe training on level 1 but confessed to it being “almost impossible to use when I started”. But he persevered and performed his daily training, and over the course of the month his POWERbreathe training became routine.

Dan commented, “There were moments on my charity cycle ride that I compared my breathing to that of my fellow riders and found myself breathing easier while they were still struggling. This of course could have been because my fitness levels were increasing or a sign of the POWERbreathe doing its job so I decided to reserve my judgement until my follow-up meeting.”

Dan had a follow-up meeting and his breathing results were recorded again on the K5, all of which looked “very positive”. POWERbreathe said, “We looked at Dan’s Volume, his Power, his Flow and the total amount of Energy used in this session compared to the previous session and he is up on everything.”

Seeing his results on the K5 Breathe-Link software charts, Dan concluded, “With just one month’s use of the POWERbreathe I had allowed my lungs to intake an extra litre of oxygen and greatly increased the power of each breath. Of course, how much of this is from my extra cycling and how much from the POWERbreathe is hard to tell.”

“You can analyse the numbers but the proof of the pudding is, do you get a better performance? Do you feel better?” POWERbreathe commented.

And Dan’s response was to confirm that, putting all the science aside, he did feel genuinely stronger, “I am stopping to catch my breath a lot less and I seem able to push myself a lot harder.”

Actually, when you think about it, you can understand how your breathing can become impeded during cycling simply because of the hunched position you’re in while cycling which will compress the contents of your abdomen and push it up against your diaphragm, restricting normal movement and making breathing feel much harder.

POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training specifically targets the breathing muscles, and in scientific studies strengthened these muscles by around 30-50% which in turn improved cycling performance and helped eliminate breathing fatigue. Other results in studies found this inspiratory muscle training:

  • Improved cycling time trial performance by 4.6% – equivalent to slashing 3-minutes off a 40k time trial
  • Enabled participants to cycle for 33% longer and with lower sense of effort
  • Increased strength of inspiratory muscles by 30 – 50%

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.

Manual for Rowing Training (Outdoor) – including breathing training and technique

This book was brought to our attention recently while attending the Henley Royal Regatta this year, and because it discusses the importance of respiration in the standards of sport medicine care, we thought we’d share a taste of the findings in the book with you, as it supports the belief that “Breath-training should have a positive effect for rowers”.

Title: Manual for Rowing Training – Technique, High Performance and Planning
Authors: D Altenburg, K Mattes, J Steinacker
Publisher: Limpert Verlag
ISBN: 978-3-7853-1828-7

This manual has been compiled by these three authors following decades of experience, together with the results of scientific research and corresponding success at international rowing championships. It is the result of their work and has been published as an overlapping, methodical guide for the performance sport training of oars men and women.

About the authors:

  • Dr Altenburg was head-coach of the German Rowing Federation from 1990 to 2007.
  • Professor Dr. Mattes is scientist for coaching and physical exercises at the University of Hamburg, Germany.
  • Professor Dr. Steinacker is internist and specialist for cardiology and sports medicine at the University of Ulm, Germany. He is also doctor of the German Rowing Federation.

The ‘Performance Physiology, Performance Analysis, Training Management’ chapter includes a section that looks at the importance of ‘Respiration and Gas-Exchange.’ It goes on to describe how the respiration and auxiliary respiratory muscles are utilised in rowing at the same time, for both breathing and for stabilising the shoulder girdle and therefore for the connection of the pulling force to the legs (and the boat),

“Hence a very close interconnection between the rowing movement and the respiration cycle can be demonstrated.”

The authors go on to explain how the inspiration on the first rowing stroke becomes impeded, due to the increased force on the oar, and why therefore the rower is forced to inhale particularly strongly between rowing strokes.

In another chapter, ‘Standards of Sport Medicine Care’, the authors address rowing and ‘Respiration’, looking at the connection between breathing and the employment of the auxiliary respiratory musculature to stabilise the pectoral girdle and the transmission of the drawing force to the legs (and boat). They explain how this is why respiratory tidal volume cannot be raised much above 70% of vital capacity during the rowing stroke, due to the limitation imposed by the effort involved in stabilising. They identify the fact that,

“With increased breathlessness, respiration has to be speeded up, thus an increased volumetric respiratory flow and with it a higher respiratory frequency.”

In summary of their findings on respiration, among other findings, the authors believe it follows therefore that:

1. “Maintaining a specific connection between breathing and movement is useful, but not always imperative.”
2. “It seems reasonable to breathe in as deeply as possible when sliding forward, and to breathe out at the finish.
3. “Breath-training should have a positive effect for rowers.”

Inspiratory Muscle Training with the POWERbreathe specifically targets your breathing muscles, strengthening them by around 30-50%, significantly improving rowing performance and helping to eliminate breathing fatigue.

Read more about how POWERbreathe could help improve your rowing performance and canoeing performance, or if you’re already using POWERbreathe then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read more about POWERbreathe for outdoor rowing on our blog.

The Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing – Ventilation and Breathing Pattern

We know we have many POWERbreathe friends and users who’re also indoor rowers, and with that in mind we thought we’d bring to your attention this Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing – one of the ‘Complete Guide’ series from Bloomsbury Publishing Plc that blends expert information and accessibility.

Title: The Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing
Authors: Jim Flood and Charles Simpson
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1-4081-3332-3

This comprehensive training manual has been written by two authorities on the subject: Jim Flood, tutor and assessor for indoor and outdoor rowing coaches who also works internationally helping countries raise their coaching levels to Olympic standards; and Charles Simpson PhD, Senior Lecturer in Exercise and Sports Science at Oxford Brookes University and rowing coach in the UK, USA and Australia.

Written and illustrated for the serious athlete, home indoor rower, outdoor rower and regular gym user alike, it features detailed training plans, tips and techniques, including the importance of the ventilation system and breathing.

Because there is a focused section on ‘Ventilation and Breathing Pattern’, it’s no surprise that POWERbreathe is referred to:

“POWERbreathe devices (see figure 5.1) are now popular with indoor rowers and the results described above provide some support for their use.”

In this section of the book the authors explain how the ventilation system of indoor rowers must be capable of providing high volumes of air in order to deliver oxygen to the blood. They also looked at breathing patterns, comparing the synchronised breathing pattern of experienced rowers that matched the different phases of the rowing stroke, with non-rowers who weren’t able to connect their breathing to these separate phases of the stroke and simply ended up breathing at random.

The authors also revealed that German research found important differences between the size of the two breaths used in the two breaths per stroke pattern used by experienced rowers during high intensity rowing. This suggested that there could be physical limits to breathing during high intensity indoor rowing due to the compressed position of the upper body at the catch, and…

“Additionally, the muscles that normally assist deep inspiration are also important for stabilising the upper body. Upper body stability is essential to the production of high power output during the drive phase of maximal intensity rowing, making it more difficult for a rower to inhale during this phase of the stroke.”

“There are also suggestions that respiratory muscles may develop fatigue during intense indoor rowing. Given these different possible restrictions on breathing during rowing, it may be possible to improve rowing performance by targeting specific ways to improve breathing during rowing.”

In support of all this, and available on the POWERbreathe website, are several research papers and review articles that look at Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) and exercise-induced inspiratory muscle fatigue, including one that also supports the suggestion that a high respiratory demand ‘steals’ blood from the legs during rowing which reduces overall rowing performance. 

So by training the breathing muscles with POWERbreathe to become stronger, blood flow demand by the respiratory muscles will be reduced and cardiac output to your leg muscles increased, improving your performance.

Read more about how POWERbreathe could help improve your rowing performance, or if you’re already using POWERbreathe then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read more about POWERbreathe for indoor rowing on our blog.

Review of POWERbreathe K5 by BBC Focus magazine, May 2013

BBC Focus is the BBC’s monthly science and technology magazine that contains reviews on the latest bestsellers, websites, games and cutting-edge gadgets, and in the May edition we found our very own POWERbreathe K5 had been reviewed!

The K5 was reviewed by James Witts for the Tech Hub feature that assessed the latest generation of ‘health monitors’. Here’s what they had to say about the K5:

“Unlike the other gadgets on test, the POWERbreathe K5 actively improves your health, not just measures it – which explains it price tag. It boosts fitness by focusing on the inspiratory system – or ‘dumbbells for the diaphragm’ as the marketing men tell us. Simply empty your lungs into its mouthpiece and then inhale sharply and for as long as you can. Do this 30 times twice a day for a month before going down to 30 times twice every other day.

The idea is that your diaphragm and ribcage muscles strengthen over time. Like a weights programme, you gradually increase the load to offer greater resistance; in this case, a valve with a variable aperture. The K5 measures a wealth of data including power per breath and peak respiratory flow. It’s technical stuff but after four weeks’ use my power output when cycling had increased.”

James Witts is the editor of 220 Triathlon magazine.

Training: Get some air

Our POWERbreathe friends and distributor in the Netherlands, Trainjelongen, contacted us as they were delighted to see an article about how training your breathing muscles can improve cycling performance. It appeared in the Cycling magazine, ‘Fiets’, which has the largest circulation for cycling magazines in the Benelux.

The reason for their delight? Well the article, originally written by Nick Morgan from Bike Radar/Cycling Plus and translated into Dutch by Fiets magazine for their readership, discusses ‘evidence that improving breathing ability may be more important than previously thought, and that endurance athletes can improve simply by paying attention to their breathing off the bike.’

The article, ‘Training: Get some air’, firstly sets out the two parts of the breathing process:

  1. The role played by the lungs which expand to take in oxygen and contract to expel carbon dioxide.
  2. The role played by the blood which transports oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and then transports carbon dioxide back to be expired.

Nick discusses how exercise physiologists in the past completely discounted the lungs and placed importance on oxygen transportation instead, because they saw that lung size or capacity couldn’t be altered after exercise training and therefore concluded that the lungs placed no limitation on exercise performance. What they did do instead, was to concentrate on oxygen transportation which did benefit from training.

That was then however and this is now, as these theories have been challenged. A group of scientists ‘agreed that lung ventilation had no beneficial effect on endurance performance but realised that expanding and contracting the lungs required muscles. These muscles use energy, just like any other, so they reasoned that if these muscles could be trained to become more efficient then performance might improve.’

Professor Alison McConnell of Brunel University established that “When we exercise we work the inspiratory muscles pretty hard and this triggers a reflex causing blood vessels in our limbs to constrict,” she says. “We showed this using the calf muscle. Yet after breathing training, the same exercise did not trigger the reflex, meaning more blood flowed to the calf and performance improved.”

Large studies which featured cyclists, rowers and runners agree with the above conclusion that a small but significant improvement is possible.

You don’t need to take just Professor McConnell’s word for it… The State University of New York took 15 competitive athletes and tested the theory. They got the athletes to undertake 30 minutes of daily breathing exercises for 4-weeks to see if it boosted their endurance during time-trials. “It did, by an average of 4% compared to controls. This is reinforced by two earlier studies showing that breathing exercises improved 25km and 40km time-trial performance by 2.5 and 2 per cent respectively.”

The article refers to POWERbreathe as a method of training these important breathing muscles, but sadly is incorrect in its description which states POWERbreathe trains both inspiratory and expiratory muscles, which it doesn’t. There is currently no definitive, comprehensive study that shows any benefit to training the expiratory muscles.

For those cyclists wishing to utilise this breathing training to their advantage, McConnell recommends 30 breaths twice a day using the POWERbreathe for four to six weeks in a relaxed position, and then when this feels easy to do, continue the training in the aerobar position so that the breathing muscles get used to working in the same state they would be in when cycling.

The article continues on to discuss altitude training, yoga and Pilates, and you can read the full article online, ‘Training: Get some air’.

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.

POWERbreathe in Pharmacy Business

On Thursday February 14th 2013, Pharmacy Business showcased POWERbreathe. Pharmacy Business is a monthly magazine especially for independent and community pharmacists. Here’s the feature that appeared online:

POWERbreathe – strengthening your breathing muscles

POWERbreathe strengthens and conditions your breathing muscles to cope with physical exertion. Stronger muscles equal less fatigue and greater endurance.

There is also a big psychological benefit. When breathing feels easy you are able to push yourself harder and delay the effects of metaboreflex, when the blood supply to your working muscles is restricted and redirected to your breathing muscles when they fatigue.

And even if you are not an athlete and maybe have lost lung capacity due to a pulmonary disease, POWERbreathe can help by training you to breathe more efficiently, maximising the capacity you have remaining to improve your quality of life.

Whether you are a top Olympic athlete or a 93-year-old lady unable to inhale medication, you can get immense benefit from using POWERbreathe. POWERbreathe works by resistance/weight training the muscles you use for breathing to make them stronger and more efficient.

Primarily working the diaphragm and intercostal (rib) muscles, it uses a variable, calibrated, spring loaded valve to adjust the loading your breathing muscles are lifting.

“I used it for just one month and my breathing felt much stronger and more free. I’d recommend this for anyone looking to improve the quality of their breathing,” said Neil Trainis, editor of Pharmacy Business.

For more information, visit www.powerbreathe.com

Breathe Deep, Ride Easy – with POWERbreathe

‘Breathe deep, ride easy’ is an article featured in the latest Cycling Fitness magazine that looks at ways to add extra power to your cycling, and features our very own POWERbreathe.

Chris Sidwells, the article’s author, begins with the notion that we may be taking the muscles that power our breathing for granted. If cycling makes us out of breath then that should be enough, shouldn’t it? Well not quite…

Chris explains how when your brain registers that you’re struggling to breathe, it diverts oxygen from your peripheral muscles, such as your legs for example while cycling, to your breathing muscles. “If this happens when you are cycling it means that you might be sucking in all the oxygen you need to keep riding hard, but your brain won’t send it to your legs, where it’s needed most.”

Breathe Strong, Perform Better (the ‘bible’ on breathing for endurance sports) explains Alison McConnell’s thinking, based on the science behind weight training, that if you isolate a muscle or group of muscles and overload them, they get stronger. And it’s here that Chris introduces POWERbreathe as “a breathing muscle training system which isolates and loads breathing muscles without any other exercise.”

The article looks at a coach’s perspective and introduces Jon Sharples, cycling coach and owner of Trainsharp who’s a big advocate of POWERbreathe. “As well as using POWERbreathe as part of the strength and conditioning routine, I encourage my clients to use them during their warm-up for racing and training.” Jon goes on to explain, “You warm up to get your muscles ready for action, but often when people race, especially early in the season, they get stitches or restricted breathing. It’s because the effort has shocked their muscles. If you do some deep breathing on the POWERbreathe, the resistance taxes your muscle and prepares them for the effort to come.”

More about how POWERbreathe can improve your cycling endurance.

Running Fitness April 2012 – Every Breath You Take

Professor Alison McConnell, author of Breathe Strong, Perform Better, has written an article, Every Breath You Take, for the April edition of Running Fitness Magazine.

Writing about breathing muscle training (inspiratory muscle training), once viewed with scepticism, she explains why it is now seen as one of the ‘quickest and easiest’ routes to improved performance.

“Intense breathing muscle work activates the (vascular) reflex, causing limb blood flow to be restricted, impairing delivery of oxygen and removal of muscle metabolites. The good news is that breathing muscle training increases the intensity of breathing work required to activate the reflex. So it’s possible to work harder and longer, before the reflex directs blood flow away from the limbs. As a result, performance can be improved in a wider range of sports and exercise modalities. It’s that simple, and that profound.”

The article goes on to demonstrate how the improvements from inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe stack up against other additional training to improve running performance:

“In a study of runners, breathing training improved 5000m performance by 2.1% (around 20 seconds), and required less than 30-minutes per week of additional interval training. In contrast, a study of additional interval training showed that it delivered a 1.5% (around 13 seconds) improvement in 5000m performance, but it required more than four times the amount of training per week, not to mention the commitment to complete five bouts of near maximal running per session, each lasting five-and-a-half minutes.”

As a runner, you might like to read more about how POWERbreathe could improve running performance or view more details about Professor McConnell’s book Breathe Strong, Perform Better.

A must read for runners is Josephine Gull’s inspiring blog. Josephine is a POWERbreathe user who’s “rediscovered her joy, passion and talent for sprinting”. With her “60m pretty much nailed and 200m well on its way” Josephine feels that much closer to smashing her outdoor Personal Bests as well. It really is a great read!

If you’re a runner and use POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training to improve running performance, then please leave a comment here, as we’d love to hear from you.

Daily Mail Article – Is this the cure for asthma?

Lucy Elkins writes in The Daily Mail Online about how wheezing from asthma could be brought to an end, thanks to POWERbreathe IMT. IMT stands for Inspiratory Muscle Training. It is a way of training the breathing muscles to become stronger. It is also drug-free.

Daily Mail Article

The article explains how people with asthma experience wheezing and tightness in the chest. This results in a feeling of breathlessness. Lucy explains how researchers have found a device that exercises the muscles surrounding the lungs, helping to reduce the feeling of being short of breath. The device is POWERbreathe and it exercises the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm, as well as, the intercostal muscles.

Furthermore, the article explains how the team of researchers from Brunel University found that using POWERbreathe for 5-minutes per day for 3 weeks, asthma sufferers symptoms improved by up to 75%. Additionally, they also found it be beneficial for improving stamina in athletes, which saw an improvement of up to 30%.

Professor Alison McConnell, an exercise physiologist at Brunel University is quoted in the article, saying:

‘While general aerobic activity such as running and cycling improves the efficiency of your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) so that you’re able to use the oxygen available to you more efficiently, it doesn’t actually have much of an impact on the respiratory muscles themselves.’

‘The only other way to exercise those muscles would be to hold your breath with the lungs full to bursting for long periods of time, as is done in advanced yogic breathing exercises.’

POWERbreathe put to the test

Daily Mail journalist, Lucy Elkins, also speaks to 35-year-old David, who’s been suffering from asthma since he was three-years-old. David is a long distance runner but is finding his condition worsening in recent years. In fact, it’s making him feel as though he’s fighting for his breath. This is a concern, as David is wanting to participate in one of the most challenging long-distance races in the world; Extreme Africa.

During training for this extreme challenge, David began to pant so hard that it hurt. As a result, he began to use POWERbreathe. He explains how he could feel it working; training his breathing muscles. The best news though is that David began to feel breathing in and out much easier within a couple of weeks, saying:

‘Not only was I not getting breathless on my runs, even everyday tasks like walking and going up stairs became easier. I went from needing to use my inhaler once or more a day to practically not using it at all.’

David went on to run in the Extreme Africa race and was the only entrant our of 26 to have asthma. Only 12 were able to complete the course. David was one of them. In fact, David came in in fifth place and continues to use his POWERbreathe regularly.