Hypoxic Endurance Exercise Performance benefits from IMT

This new study (2019) looks into whether chronic IMT improves hypoxic endurance exercise performance.

Endurance exercise performance

The study, in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, is using a cycling time trial to measure endurance exercise performance. Endurance exercise is typically performed at submaximal intensity. The purpose of this is to estimate VO2max, or ‘aerobic fitness’. The measurement VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person will consume during intense exercise. In fact, cycling time trials offer the ideal exercise to increase both heart rate and breathing. Similarly, so do running and swimming.

What is IMT?

IMT is a form of resistance training for the breathing muscles. The term IMT stands for inspiratory muscle training. The inspiratory muscles, the breathing muscles, are the ones that draw air into the lungs. The main inspiratory muscle is the diaphragm. Like any other group of muscles, the inspiratory muscles benefit from training too. Inspiratory muscle training, such as with POWERbreathe, provides the stimulus for that training. Following IMT, the breathing muscles adapt and become stronger after only a few weeks. This results in exercise feeling easier and an improvement therefore in performance.

Why IMT?

Although breathing comes naturally, some of the time it can feel like an effort. This may be due to the demand endurance exercise places on breathing. It may be due to a respiratory issue. Either way, it’s not uncommon for the respiratory muscles to fatigue, just like any other muscle.

If the respiratory muscles are weak from disease or exercise is overloading them, breathing demand will not be met. As a result, breathing will start to feel shallow and rapid. Sustaining this type of breathing is impossible. Furthermore, the more rapid the breathing, the more oxygen they require and the more carbon dioxide they produce. Consequently, oxygen is re-directed from the skeletal muscles, such as arms or legs, to the breathing muscles, where it is most needed. This results in fatigue of the skeletal muscles.

Inspiratory muscle training helps the body meet the needs of both the respiratory muscles and the skeletal muscles by improving their strength and stamina. The way IMT achieves this is by providing a resistance to breathe in against. POWERbreathe IMT is just like a ‘dumbbell for your diaphragm’.

Study results

Data from this recent study suggest that,

“performing 6 weeks of inspiratory muscle training may benefit hypoxic endurance exercise performance lasting 30-40 minutes.”

Acclimatisation to High Altitude – POWERbreathe IMT is Beneficial

There is a new Review Article in Frontiers in Physiology (January 2019) that looks into using respiratory/inspiratory muscle training for acclimatisation to altitude.

Respiratory muscle training

Respiratory muscle training, or RMT, is a programme of exercises that aim to improve the function of the respiratory muscles. Otherwise known as the ‘breathing pump’ muscles, the expiratory muscles and the inspiratory muscles make up the respiratory muscles. It’s the inspiratory muscles that we use when we breathe in. The main inspiratory muscle is the diaphragm, but to a lesser extent, the intercostal muscles also help with inhalation. To help improve the strength and stamina of these inspiratory muscles, respiratory muscle training will include Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT).

Inspiratory Muscle Training

Inspiratory muscle training, such as with POWERbreathe, uses resistance to provide the training effect. When breathing in against the resistance, the breathing muscles have to work harder. As a result, they get stronger. Consequently, breathing stamina improves resulting in a reduction in breathing fatigue. There is numerous research validating this form of breathing training and, as a result, it is the most commonly used.

The review

For the review, researchers perform a comprehensive search, analysing seven appropriate studies. Three of these studies refer to using respiratory muscle endurance training (RME with isocapnic hyperpnea). However, the remaining four studies use respiratory muscle strength training (RMS with POWERbreathe IMT).

Acclimatisation to altitude

Studies suggest that respiratory muscle training with IMT is a useful preparatory method for enhancing respiratory muscle efficiency 4-6 weeks before being exposed to hypoxia/altitude.

It is evident that breathing during exercise in hypoxia is associated with increased energy costs (20–30%) when compared to normoxia. Therefore, it is more likely to cause respiratory muscle fatigue. However, inspiratory muscle training will help to combat this. This is because IMT trains the inspiratory muscles to become stronger, increasing stamina. Consequently, breathing muscle fatigue reduces.

It, therefore, seems apparent that breathing muscle training has the potential to minimise at least some of the limiting respiratory factors that occur during training and competition in hypoxia/at altitude.

Benefits of acclimatisation to altitude using IMT

The Review suggests that both elite athletes and non-elite individuals may benefit from RMT, including:

  1. A delay in the onset of premature fatigue.
  2. A delay in respiratory muscle metaboreflex onset/activation.
  3. An improvement in clearance and tolerance to anaerobic metabolite products.
  4. A decrease in the perception of dyspnea (‘air hunger’).
  5. An increase in oxygen saturation values.
  6. A more favourable blood redistribution to the locomotor muscles.

Finally, evidence from this review finds that respiratory muscle training is an effective stimulus for improving the strength and endurance of the respiratory muscles. In fact, it’s these adaptive responses that contribute to the improvement of ventilatory function and efficiency. In translation, this means that respiratory muscle training is very likely to improve exercise performance in normoxia and particularly in hypoxia/altitude.

Pilates Plus IMT Improves Lung Function

Researchers from Brazil are looking at the effects of combining Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) with Pilates on lung function in elderly women. The reason for this is because ageing affects the respiratory system. In fact, it can change the composition of the lung’s connective tissue.

Ageing and the lungs

Ageing will ultimately affect bones and muscles. Moreover, natural ageing also affects the bones and muscles of the chest. Consequently, it may affect the shape of the ribcage. As a result, the ribcage may no longer expand or contract as well as it once did, during breathing. Additionally, the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm, becomes weaker too. This will affect how much air a person is able to breathe in and out.

Furthermore, ageing affects lung tissue and the airways may lose their ability to stay open. Additionally, the air sacs begin to lose their shape. Consequently, air may become trapped in the lungs. This affects how well you’re able to breathe.

Why inspiratory muscle training?

Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) is a form of resistance training that exercises the inspiratory muscles. The main inspiratory muscles are the diaphragm and intercostals. It’s these muscles that are responsible for drawing air into the lungs. Furthermore, it’s these muscles that will be affected by ageing. Therefore, exercising these muscles with IMT will limit the effects of ageing. IMT will help them to become stronger and less prone to fatigue.

The IMT device that participants use in this trial is the POWERbreathe K5.

Participants breathe in through the K5 for 30 breaths. They perform this twice, with a one-minute interval between each set. After two weeks’ training, they must increase the training resistance by 10%. Researchers then assess an individual’s results following Pilates exercise.

Why Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise programme, developed in the 20th Century by Joseph Pilates. The exercises focus on improving core strength and muscular imbalance. Furthermore, Pilates improves flexibility, overall muscle strength and is low-impact, making it ideal for the age group in this study.

As we age, we become less active and more sedentary. Consequently, sitting for long periods limits movement and affects the body. In fact, age affects the entire musculoskeletal system: joints, muscles and bones. As a result, posture is affected and we also start to lose muscle tone, balance and joint mobility. Pilates can help to minimise these age-related changes.

For this study, participants use the Cadillac, Combo Chair and Reformer devices for the Pilates method. The researchers recommend nine exercises per session. Participants perform up to three sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise. They do this for a maximum of 45-minutes.

Study results

To establish if IMT positively effects breathing muscle strength, each participant’s maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP) is measured. MIP is an index of diaphragm strength and an independent predictor of all-cause mortality (longevity). Study findings show that MIP significantly evolved in the elderly. Additionally, the study highlights:

“the use of the POWERbreathe K5 device, which further favoured the gain in this variable.”

Findings also show:

“that all the variables were significantly better in the intervention groups than in the Control Group, thus strengthening the importance of the association between IMT and Pilates.”

In conclusion

“In conclusion, physiotherapy is an excellent ally in the prevention, promotion, and maintenance of health, quality of life and functional capacity in the gerontological population. The use of the Pilates Studio method, associated with technological equipment that allows more detailed analysis and treatment of pulmonary conditions, strength, function and mobility, was shown to be beneficial for this type of application.”

The influence of inspiratory muscle training combined with the Pilates method on lung function in elderly women: A randomized controlled trial >

Rugby & the Beneficial Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training

The nature of the game of rugby involves high and low-intensity action. Also, the physical demands of the game are specific to each player’s positional role. However, despite the player’s position, all need to be aerobically fit. Each must also have a high lactate tolerance and be strong and powerful.

Challenges facing rugby players

Most of the game of rugby is sub-maximal. This means that the intensity at which the player performs increases at a steady rate. Furthermore, this sub-maximal exercise will only work the player up to 85% of their maximum heart rate.

However, integral to the game are intermittent sprints, tackling, scrums, rucks and mauls. These are supra-maximal. And it’s this part of the game that pushes players beyond their maximum limit. Consequently, breathing effort will be a challenge.

The pattern of exertion rugby has on players places extreme demands upon their breathing. This is because these activities are anaerobic and generate high levels of lactic acid. Furthermore, the lactic acid stimulates their breathing to increase. In addition, a unique feature of rugby is the involvement of high-intensity upper body activity. This can induce conflicting demands upon the breathing muscles, which as well as bringing about breathing, are also essential in activities that involve the upper body.

This 2018 study from Brazil reiterates the fact that the respiratory muscles need adequate work to maintain sustained effective breathing in the sport of rugby.

The scientific study

This scientific study set about analysing the effects of high-intensity inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in 20 amateur rugby players. These players are from the city of Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

For the trial, the amateur players undergo a pulmonary function test, respiratory muscle strength and physical capacity assessment. Researchers then split them into two groups: the IMT group and the control group, each consisting of 10 players. The study has approval from the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro under protocol no. 2398.

Rugby training & conditioning for the trial

During the trial, players begin training with a warm-up by jogging for 5-minutes. They then perform dynamic stretching of the major muscle groups. Following this, the researchers have the players simulate specific moves applied to the game of rugby to improve its fundamentals. These include such moves as passing, blocking, feinting and collective strategic moves. Ultimately, the training session ends with stretching.

Players in the Inspiratory Muscle Training group perform three weekly sessions of an inspiratory muscle training programme, using the POWERbreathe Plus, for 12 consecutive weeks. These sessions are supervised by a physiotherapist and a physical education professional.

The IMT group protocol

This group protocol consists of:

  • 10 minutes’ stretching of the trunk muscles, upper and lower limbs
  • 10-minute inspiratory warm-up by performing a full and vigorous inspiration through the POWERbreathe Plus IMT device
  • A series of 30 repetitions using 80% of maximal inspiratory pressure using the POWERbreathe Plus IMT device. After the fourth training session, the level is increased.

The control group protocol

This group of 10 players perform the same protocol as above, except they do not perform the 30 repetitions of inspiratory muscle training using the POWERbreathe Plus.

Effects of high-intensity IMT in Rugby Players

Results show that the 12-week course of high-intensity POWERbreathe IMT provides significant increases in maximal voluntary ventilation (22%), maximum inspiratory pressure (38%), PEmax (32%), and distance travelled (13%) in the YoYo Test.

Also worthy of note is how physical capacity will be compromised if the respiratory system does not provide sufficient oxygen supply to satisfy the demands. Researchers explain that when the arrival of blood to the respiratory muscles decrease, it experiences fatigue and leads to lactic acid buildup. Consequently, this situation causes a decrease in the strength and resistance of the respiratory muscles.

Results of this trial suggest therefore that the POWERbreathe IMT training protocol provides beneficial, positive effects for rugby players.

The study

Effects of high-intensity Inspiratory Muscle Training in Rugby Players >

Metaboreflex & Performance in Elite Female Soccer

ECSS is the European College of Sport Science (ECSS). Part of its purpose is to promote junior scientists and foster state-of-the-art research. And in order to do this, ECSS have created the Young Investigators Award (YIA). This award-winning research, presented in the video, is for Metaboreflex and Performance in Elite Female Soccer: Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training.

Video presentation of ECSS YIA winning research

Metaboreflex & Performance in Elite Female Soccer

This research aims to determine the effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) on respiratory and peripheral muscles oxygenation. It examines this during a maximal exercise tolerance test and on repeated-sprint ability (RSA) performance in professional women football players.

Inspiratory Muscle Training

All participants in the study perform 6-weeks of IMT. The device they use for IMT is the POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback software.

At the end of their 6 weeks’ training, all participants are reevaluated.

Research Findings

The findings show that,

“…only the IMT group present lower deoxyhaemoglobin and total haemoglobin blood concentrations on intercostal muscles concomitantly to an increased oxyhemoglobin and total haemoglobin blood concentrations on vastus lateralis muscle during time-to-exhaustion”

Research Conclusions

Results suggest the potential role of IMT to attenuate inspiratory muscles metaboreflex. Consequently, oxygen and blood supply to limb muscles during high-intensity exercise improves. Furthermore, there is also a potential impact on inspiratory muscle strength, exercise tolerance and sprints performance in professional women football players.

ECSS YIA Award

ECSS presents scientists with the opportunity of entering this prestigious competition for scientific excellence, every year. And it’s at the ECSS annual congress where young scientists present their scientific work, as they compete to win the YIA Award.

Following presentations, members of the ECSS Scientific Board and ECSS Scientific Committee, grant the awards. They base this decision upon an oral and mini-oral presentation for the top ten presentations respectively.

Bruno Archiza is the winner of this 2016 YIA award, and his presentation took place at the 21st annual congress of the ECSS in Vienna.

Tennis Players’ Endurance Improves after POWERbreathe IMT

New research shows tennis players’ endurance and strength improves after Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). The research from Pune, India, is in the International Journal of Current Research (February 2018).

What affects tennis performance

The main characteristics of this game are intense bouts of running, such as sprinting to reach a ball. Consequently, breathing is driven to its highest levels. And this induces extreme breathlessness. This affects performance.

In order to continue to play effectively while maintaining a high level of skill performance, breathing mustn’t hinder performance.

Breathing effort in tennis

Playing tennis involves using your breathing muscles in your torso to brace and twist during a racket stroke. Also, experienced players use their inflated lungs to brace the impact of the ball and racket. This helps them to control the release of air from their lungs and optimise the transmission of force. However, breathing muscle fatigue impairs this control. Thankfully though, breathing muscle strengthening training will improve this. Using a device that specifically trains the breathing muscles, the inspiratory muscles, is the easiest way of doing this. These are called Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) devices, such as POWERbreathe IMT. And training your breathing muscles to become stronger can help with a player’s postural control and movement too.

Research into players’ endurance

The research from Pune highlights the fact that tennis matches feature high-intensity, short- duration bouts of extreme activity with a short rest time. And it’s the competition of blood flow between the arms and legs and the breathing muscles which ultimately increases breathing fatigue.

For this study, researchers use the POWERbreathe KH1 Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device to strengthen participants’ breathing muscles. Furthermore, each participant performed a prescribed protocol for using the device for five days over four weeks. Researchers were aiming to assess the effect of IMT on cardiovascular endurance in lawn tennis players.

Research findings

The findings of this latest research show there to be,

“significant improvement in cardiovascular endurance and strength in lawn tennis players after progressive inspiratory muscle training.”

How to improve tennis performance

POWERbreathe IMT specifically targets the breathing muscles, strengthening them by around 30-50%, significantly improving performance and helping to eliminate breathing fatigue. And these findings are a result of studies with tennis players who, after IMT, took less time to recover and were ready sprint maximally again more quickly.

 

 

Get Fit Quick

One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to get fitter and healthier, quickly. But staying fit and healthy is more difficult. However the latest trend for HIIT can help. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It will help you get fit quick. Doctor Michael Mosley tried out HIIT for himself in the acclaimed BBC TV series, Trust Me I’m a Doctor. He believes you can get the benefits of exercise in just a few minutes a week.  But it is an extremely intense workout.

It is advised that you consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before undertaking any form of exercise.

Here are our tips for getting fit quick

  1. Perform HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts – ensure you warm up for two minutes beforehand.
  2. Workout with a friend – you’ll not want to let them down (and vice versa).
  3. Pick something you love – you’re more likely to want to do it on the days you feel less inclined to exercise.
  4. Use an activity monitor – they’ll help you reach your goals by keeping you motivated, as they track and log your activity.
  5. Train your breathing muscles. Really? Yes, breathing training improves strength and stamina, reducing fatigue, which in turn makes exercise feel easier.

What is breathing training?

Your breathing muscles, just like any other muscle, will adapt and get stronger if you exercise them. To do this, you need to expose your breathing to a training stimulus. In addition, it must of sufficient duration or with sufficient frequency for the breathing muscles to experience a full training adaptation. Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT), such as the POWERbreathe breathing training device, is ideal for this. IMT targets the breathing muscles, specifically the muscles you use to breathe in.

Breathing exercises and techniques

To get the most from your inspiratory muscle training you need to ensure that you’re using the device properly. Firstly, ensure you are breathing IN through the device. IN for INspiratory.  It’s the inspiratory muscles that play a vital role in the efficiency of breathing at rest and also during exercise. Expiration, however, is normally passive  and only during heavy exercise workloads does it become forced.

Tips for using POWERbreathe during exercise

  1. Ensure you first have a good POWERbreathe breathing technique.
  2. Perform your exercise firstly without your POWERbreathe device. Then perform the exercise with your POWERbreathe device set to the lowest setting (load).
  3. As you continue to perform your workout, gradually increase the load on your POWERbreathe device over a period of the next few weeks.
  4. You can also incorporate a breathing training station into interval training, drills and circuits, or during the recovery phase.

Fin-Swimming Performance Improves after RMT

Fin swimming is the closest you’ll get to being a mermaid, thanks to the use of the fin that propels the athlete through the water. Athletes use both floating and breathing equipment to race. In fact fin-swimming involves four techniques, each determining a type of race.

Types of Fin-Swimming

‘Surface Swimming’ is where swimmers use a mask, snorkel and monofins and remain at the surface of the water.

In ‘Bi-Fins Swimming’, swimmers also remain at the surface of the water but use a mask, snorkel and a pair of fins.

‘Apnoea Fin-Swimming’ involves swimmers using a mask and mono-fin while swimming underwater, holding their breath.

And in ‘Immersion Swimming’, a mask and mono-fin are used while swimming underwater using breathing apparatus.

Respiratory Muscle Function in Fin-Swimming

Fin-swimming requires inspiratory power to ‘breathe-in’ sufficiently while swimming. But the respiratory muscles are not just essential for breathing, they’re also important in body movement. Furthermore, the auxiliary respiratory muscles remain active as the main respiratory muscles tire. And as a fin-swimmer, you will not want any of your locomotor muscles to tire.

Respiratory Muscle Function in Swimming

Research shows that respiratory muscle function can influence swimming performance. Studies also show that respiratory muscle training (RMT), or inspiratory muscle training (IMT), influences performance in a positive way.

Breathing Challenge in Fin Swimmers

Like swimmers, fin-swimmers perform both on the surface and underwater. This is to a depth of 1-2 metres. But fin-swimmers include practising a temporary cessation of breathing, or apnoea, during training. This inevitably puts a great demand on their breathing. As a result, the strength of their breathing muscles is challenged, as is the flexibility of their rib cage.

Another aspect of fin-swimming that will affect respiratory mechanics, is the racing swimsuit. Unlike a swimming costume that covers only the torso, this swimsuit envelops as much of the body as possible. As a consequence, the fin swimsuit causes considerable muscle compression and an increase in the work of the inspiratory muscles.

As a result, the inspiratory muscles need to overcome not only hydrostatic resistance but also resistance from the swimsuit. And now, as the discipline of fin-swimming is on the increase, coaches are looking for ways to improve athletic performance

Fin-Swimming Study

So, the aim of this study is to verify if one month of Respiratory/Inspiratory Muscle Training (RMT/IMT) is beneficial to fin-swimmers. In order to do this, researchers assess the effect of this type of training on the respiratory muscles, and on maximal underwater distance.

Study Conclusions

This study concludes that 4 weeks of respiratory muscle endurance and strength training increases respiratory muscle strength and has a positive effect on the swimming performance in fin-swimmers.

So for fin-swimmers, this study demonstrates the possibilities for targeted sports training that focuses not only on swimming performance and general physical fitness but also on respiratory performance.

It also enables coaches and others interested in fin-swimming training to expand their knowledge and training methods, which can positively influence the athletic performance of young fin-swimmers.

The study, The Effect of Respiratory Muscle Training on Fin-Swimmers’ Performance, is published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine.

Effects of work of breathing on blood flow during exercise

Published in Experimental Physiology this research sought to simultaneously assess leg and respiratory muscle blood flow during intense exercise while manipulating the work of breathing (WOB).

Researchers from Canada & Brazil hypothesised:

  1. Increasing the work of breathing would increase respiratory muscle blood flow and decrease leg blood flow.
  2. Decreasing the work of breathing would decrease respiratory muscle blood flow and increase leg blood flow.

The work of breathing (WOB)

Changes in work of breathing are significantly and positively related to changes in respiratory muscle blood flow. By which it shows that increasing the work of breathing increases blood flow.

On the other hand, changes in work of breathing are inversely related to changes in locomotor blood flow. So decreasing the work of breathing increases locomotor blood flow.

Study findings

Therefore findings from the study support the concept that respiratory muscle work significantly influences the distribution of blood flow to both respiratory and locomotor muscles.

The study

Effects of respiratory muscle work on respiratory and locomotor blood flow during exercise >

Obese adolescents feel exercise is easier after breathing training

New research has found that respiratory muscle endurance training (RMET) reduces the O2 cost of cycling and perceived exertion in obese adolescents.

Oxygen cost reduces during cycling effort in obese adolescents

Research published in the American Journal of Physiology assessed whether RMET would be beneficial to obese adolescents who exercised. And so they added breathing training to a standard weight-loss programme. They wanted to see if it decreased the rate of oxygen usage while exercising; in this case, cycling. They also wanted to see if the training reduced how hard participants felt they were working. This is known as perceived exertion. They also wanted to see if it increased their tolerance to exercise.

Researchers method

Nine male obese adolescents underwent 3 weeks of respiratory muscle endurance training. They performed this over 5 days. Another eight age-and sex- matched obese adolescents underwent a standard body mass reduction program. The was the control group (CTRL).

Before and after the exercise interventions each participant performed on a cycle ergometer. Breath-by-breath pulmonary ventilation and oxygen uptake, heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion for dyspnea/breathing discomfort and leg effort were all determined.

Research findings

Participants in both the RMET group and control group decreased their body mass (by ~3.0 kg). During the constant work-rate exercises, the oxygen cost of cycling, the slope of oxygen uptake versus time, breathing discomfort, leg effort and heart rate decreased following RMET but not following CTRL.

Research conclusions

The researchers concluded that in obese adolescents, respiratory muscle endurance training superimposed on a standard body mass reduction program, lowers the oxygen cost of cycling and perceived exertion during constant heavy-intensity exercise. In effect, exercise feels easier after breathing training. And breathing training can be performed in conjunction with a weight loss programme.