Ben Barwick – It’s been a long time

Ben BarwickI realise that I haven’t updated my PB Blog in a while, having had a really disappointing run in London, I took a few weeks off training. However, after a few days I was chomping at the bit to make myself even better and I have taken this new enthusiasm into my training over the last month and a bit and really enjoying running again.

After any big race, especially the marathon, you always feel a bit flat and it takes time to get back into your running, The first 2 – 3 weeks when I come back from marathon training are some of the most horrible running weeks I ever have. Whereas before the marathon you feel like you are floating on air, the legs just feel heavy and really do not want to work!

Anyway, you get through it and I have had some good results these last few weeks, lowering my 10k pb to 34:32, and hopefully there is a bit more to come.

Onto POWERbreathe, I am still using the product, especially on race mornings as part of my warm up routine.

However, I have started to incorporate the POWERbreathe into my core workouts that I do. I can tell you now that you have never felt pain like trying to do a plank, whilst breathing through the K5! It is insane! Sometimes, I don’t even get close to taking in a full breath!! I think if you saw me doing it you would think I was insane!

It has made my core workouts a hell of a lot more enjoyable, and I think I am getting a lot more out of them now than I ever did before, as I am working so much harder. When I can easily manage 10 press ups with the K5 in, I will tell everyone who cares to listen about it!!

To do these workouts, I have created a custom 60 breath workout on the K5 Breathe-Link software, and then just keep using the K5 whilst i am doing my core. When I finish the workout, I just start it again and keep breathing. I have set the load to 80cmH20 for all the breaths. This is now where near the maximum I can do for a normal 30 breath session, but it doesn’t need to be! What I find really interesting is that there are some core exercises which aren’t that much harder with the K5 in, and some that make breathing almost impossible!

When I get a bit of time, I will put together some of my favourite core+PB workouts to share with you all!!

Until next time…..keep working that core!

Ben Barwick – London Marathon preparation

Ben BarwickSo, The Virgin London Marathon is only 2 days away and I have been back on the POWERbreathe training over the last few days to get myself as ready as possibly for the race.

I was away for 5 days last week and in my rush, I forgot to take my K5 with me. I even contemplated turning around and getting it, but I did the maths and would have had 2 minutes to get the train if everything had gone right, so had to leave it. What a nightmare!

I have been using the POWERbreathe once every other day in a maintenance program. My results have stayed fairly consistent and I have felt good.

However, after my week not using the unit, I definitely felt I lacked something. It may have been psychological but I am not sure it is. When I am in training, I become more susceptible to little colds and sniffles, and often little problems with my lungs. Having used the POWERbreathe for close to 4 months now and feel that the additional strength that has been created with my breathing system has helped to minimise the issues I would usually get. Now, I can’t say that it is all down the POWERbreathe training, but I think it is!

Back to last week, having spent 7 days not using the unit, I started to get a bit of tightness in my chest and started brining up a bit of phlegm. Whilst I wasn’t too stressed out about the situation, I did think that my lack of a K5 unit was party the reason.

Once I was able to get home and use the POWERbreathe for a few days, it started to ease the problem and I felt better. I was still able to ‘lift’ the same levels on the unit, the volume was down and it took a few days to get right.

I am not trying to say that the POWERbreathe is magic and will cure all illnesses, but I have found that it works for me and has really made a difference to my training, allowing me to train more.

London is 2 days away, hopefully my twice a day training for most of the week will pay off!


Ben Barwick

Ben Barwick – Powerbreathe maintenance regime

Ben BarwickI have done one week on my ‘maintenance’ POWERbreathe regime and it has been a slightly odd adjustment process. Not having to use the product everyday makes me a little bit sad, I get to my desk and look at the K5, staring back at me, untouched, and I am sure I can almost hear it crying out to be used!!

Enough of the soppy story around  the K5, I have been thinking this week about whether my breathing has felt any different since I have stopped training twice a day, and I do not believe that it has. I try and use the POWERbreathe after a heavy run, when I am already fatigued, so I get the most out of the session, and the training is still hard but I do not feel as though I have lost any ‘power’!

The test results have been a few ‘points’ lower than my maximum which I achieved last week but all in all not too bad.

I am looking forward to taking the POWERbreathe out to Portugal with Full Potential on our training camp to show to everyone and get some runners using the product for the first time, that should be fun.

Short and sweet this week, just how all blogs should be!

Ben Barwick – POWERbreathe six weeks training complete

Ben BarwickI have now completed six weeks of POWERbreathe training   and it is now time to move to a once every other day training schedule as my initial training period is over. Alison McConnell in her book ‘Breathe Strong Perform Better” mentions that research suggests that minimal improvements can be made after a 6 week training block, and a maintenance schedule is all that is then required.

So, a bit of an overview of the POWERbreathe training so far:

Everything has improved quite dramatically over the past few weeks, here is the training in numbers:

•Test 1 Sindex – 177

•Final Test Sindex – 233

That is a 32% improvement in my performance over 6 weeks, which is a very nice gain to have made.

Another area that has improved is the Peak Inspiratory Flow (PIF) value (Litres)

•Test 1 – 9.5 litres

•Final Test – 11.9

That is a 25% improvement over 6 weeks in my peak inspiratory flow value.

Training wise, I have seen massive improvements in what I am able to do each session.

To begin with my average power for the session was 29.7 cmH2O, is is now 67.9 cmH2O. This basically means I am ‘lifting’ a lot heavier weights during the session, or working with a  lot more resistance.

Average flow has remained fallibly constant, around the 5 litters/second mark, with it dipping below when I am adjusting to a new level of resistance, them improving steadily. It is not a surprise to see this as you can’t make the lungs any bigger, just more efficient. This is a similar story for the volume per breath, which has sat around 4.5 – 5.5 litres per breath.

All of these numbers are just that at the end of the day. The big question has to be whether it has made a difference to my training. I think that it has made a difference and I don’t believe it is all psychological.

Over the last few weeks I have run two massive pb’s, taking over 2 minutes off my 10k time (down to 36:17) and over 9 minutes off a half marathon (down to 1:20:05). I have been training well but I have also felt stronger when I have been pushing my body over the tougher sessions. There is a huge psychological benefit to be had, whenever you start to get tired and the breathing becomes harder, thinking back to all the work put in on the POWERbreathe trainer certainly makes me realise that I am capable of doing this and I am in good shape. I have also found my chest has been less susceptible to the tiny coughs that I usually pick up at the drop of a pin whilst training. This might be down to other parts of my lifestyle; diet and general well being, however I think that the POWERbreathe has done a lot for my breathing technique.

So, 6 weeks has flown past, I am slightly relieved to not be using the device twice a day, however it will be interesting to see how the next few weeks play out with the one session every other day and seeing what happens with my scores.

Ben Barwick

Ben Barwick – POWERbreathe offers bigger and brighter things

Ben BarwickI have realised that this will be my last week using the basic 2 times a day training, then it will be onto bigger and brighter things!!

I have done a couple of new things this week to try and get the most out of the POWERbreathe, along with testing the Warm-Up/Cool Down features.

Training straight after a session

One strategy that I have done is to get onto the POWERbreathe straight after I have finished a session. This has been a real eye opener, and every time I do this I can feel a huge difference between the load I am using and also the quality of the session, it deteriorates a lot quicker. After a really good 20 mile long run in Richmond Park on Sunday, I was on the POWERbreathe K5 within 10 minutes of stopping. I got a number of strange looks as I walked across the car park and stood by my car with this black and orange contraption in my mouth, making rather strange noises! I could tell instantly how tired my breathing muscles were, the device was set to auto-load and I was using a load over 20 units less than usual, and it was still incredibly difficult! I think that it was a great session because it starts to load the muscles when they are already tired, and as long as not all my sessions are like that it can only be of benefit my inspiratory muscle training and breathing training.

Running Pose

One slightly weirder technique I have introduced is standing on one leg with the other leg up and thigh parallel to the ground, most runners will be familiar with this drill as a high knee style lift. Each breath I would alternate legs. It has been interesting experiment. I certainly feel I breathe stronger on one side over the other. I have only been using this as the last 10 breathes for each set, but I certainly feel it makes a bit of a difference.

Manual loading

One feature of both the breathe-link software and POWERbreathe K5 is the ability to manually load the session, instead of using auto-load. Whilst auto-load is useful to begin with, I think that after a while I want to make sure that I am getting a good quality session done. It would be very easy to put too much load in, so to make sure, I have only been making small increments, and this has only been once the volume of air moved has stabilised to the level it was at before.

So, for example I would set the load to 100 cmH2O. My usual average volume of air is 5 litres, however, the first time this would drop to 4.5. After a couple of sessions this would improve to around 5, so then it is time to turn the load up to 105 cmH20.

Problem with breathe-link software

One problem that I have with the K5 Breathe-Link software is it does not remember your training level every time you turn the program off. So if I set it up as manual and 105cmH2O, if I closed the program and opened it up in the morning it would set the training level to auto and v.light. Whilst it isn’t a huge problem, it would be great if it left it at the last session by default. I have started a few sessions and realised that the settings are wrong. Not a huge issue, but the little things make all the difference. The K5 is set up to do the session you last did by default, so if you choose auto loading and light, then it will stay on this until you make the change in the settings area on the unit itself.

Warm up / cool down

One of the features that I most liked the look of is the warm up/cool down function that lives on the K5. Whilst it would certainly not be a reason to buy, I think that it has certainly helped me out of in a few sessions. Getting up early in the morning for a session is never fun, but going straight onto the POWERbreathe to get warmed up certainly helps to focus the mind and means that the session is usually better because of it. The cool down function is a bit of a novelty because I feel I can cool down on my own, but isn’t a waste of time. I have a race this weekend, so I am taking the POWERbreathe along to use as part of my Warm Up strategy.

Ben Barwick – Goodbye illness, hello POWERbreathe

Ben BarwickThank god my illness over and I am back to training. Been going much better this week, both running and POWERbreathe.

I sat down this week and had a look at the my training results, using the breathe-link software. What is really pleasing to see is how it has all progressed, and I cannot imagine how I even functioned before the POWERbreathe!

What I noticed from the breathe link software was how the Flow figures have changed. They seem to increase, drop down a bit then increase back up to the level before. What I think is happening here is that when the training load adjusts to a level I have not done before, I can’t get as much air through the device, however, the breathing muscles quickly adapt and we get flow levels back to where we were before, we then go through the cycle again.

The average power has also steadily increased, with a bit more consistency over the last few sessions. Whilst being able to visibly see the training is good, it is also really useful to get an idea of how effective the training is.

What would all this training be without a few tests thrown in for good measure? Testing is the ultimate way to see improvement and I have feel I have made some very steady gains.

A short but positive update this week on the POWERbreathe training. Next week I will test the Warm Up and Cool Down functions and let you know a bit more about manually loading the POWERbreathe K5 for an even better workout!

Cold weather affects my POWERbreathe training

A rather sad update this week with the harrowing news that I ended up getting ill at the back end of last week and it has taken the week to get over. It all happened because of this rubbish cold weather we are enduring. I know the cold affects people in different ways but it freezes my chin, turns my lips blue and my speech starts to resemble an inebriated embarrassing father at a wedding (slurred and fairly incomprehensible). I also struggle with the ability to pick up a virus rather easily, a combination of poor genetics (thanks parents) and this running lark I do.

From the limited research that has been done, especially for marathon runners, the prolonged high-intensity exercise is associated with an increased risk of infection.

The day that created the illness I was out doing 3x15mins at threshold and it was raining. I have always protested that running in the rain is bad for you but I had to get the session done. I knew that I would be working hard during the session so didn’t overload with clothing and although I was shivering a bit when I go out the door, as soon as I got running I knew all would be ok. I also had it in my mind that as soon as I got back from the session I was to get in the shower to warm up. I did all this and still got ill. Upon reflection, not having a hat on was my biggest mistake  of the day. I thought that I had avoided getting anything as I felt fine up until midday. Then, as you can guess, my condition deteriorated during the afternoon. It started with aches down my back, I attempted to fight back with as much medicine as I could stuff down my throat but it was too late, I was doomed to illness. I ended up with a temperature and feeling very drained for the next few days. Running had to take a back seat and making sure it didn’t become an issue was top priority.

What has this meant for my POWERbreathe training?

POWERbreathe training really took a turn for the worse as I did. I decided to take a couple of days off the device. Whilst medically I am sure I was perfectly fine to keep training, everything felt really terrible so I didn’t.

Once I had got over the worst of it my training didn’t come back together instant ally and that was the same with the POWERbreathe. What was really interesting is that after a few days I certainly felt a slight drop in my performance. I wanted to see what the time off would have done to my test scores, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had only dropped 10 points on the S-index. The first few training sessions back were a little bit lighter than usual, only because I was still struggling.


Ben Barwick – Go POWERbreathe Go

A couple of weeks into the POWERbreathe training now. The big news is that I broke 200 on my test score. That was very exciting for me! My S-index was 205.1. It was a bit of a shock when I did the test and that score came up but obviously the training is doing something. One of the great features of the unit is that is provides you with targets and numbers to improve on and this certainly provides me with plenty of motivation for my training.

I know that I have only just started using the unit but I already think it is helping with the running. I did a hill session a few days ago, it was 3 x10 minutes Kenyan Hills uphill. What this means is that I have to run up a hill for a period of time, then turn around and run down.

Doesn’t sound so bad but the only part of the session that counts towards the 10 minutes is the going up. So each part lasts for just under 20 minutes, you then have to do that 2 more times!! Not only did the session go really well but I definitely felt my breathing was stronger than before. It may be purely psychological but any sort of benefit I can get.

I have also spent this week researching the POWERbreathe range and having a look at the other models that they sell. Part of this is because I am sad, and partly because the K5 would be a bit too pricey for most people. The K series is phenomenal because of the auto loading feature, and I would probably want to spring for the K2 over the K1 (as it has the test feature) but I might be tempted to spend the extra on the K3 to add in the warm up/cool down feature, more on this in next week’s blog. As I have said before, I love the breathe link software so if you can afford to get it I really recommend it.

Of the rest of the range, I would probably purchase a POWERbreathe plus. It will create enough resistance to be a useful training tool and doesn’t look too bad either. At £50 it will not break the bank but still provide all the benefits of a POWERbreathe device.

Right, off to do some more training.

Check back soon for another update!


Ben Barwick – Can’t get enough of the POWERbreathe K5

So, week two has started and am thoroughly enjoying the POWERbreathe. The best news is that my Test scores have gone up. I did a test after 3 days, and my results had already gone up to 189.8. As I mentioned in my first Blog, the first few sessions were just about getting used to the POWERbreathe and developing the technique.

The best news is that after 2 days of training the results started to improve and I felt like I am making some improvements.

One of the great features about POWERbreathe K series is that it has an auto-level feature. As I understand it, based on your first 3 breaths, the unit automatically sets the training load for that session. You can set this feature to vary from very light, light, moderate, heavy, very heavy. From my use, I have only used the very light and light settings. One slightly annoying think about the Breathe-Link software is that it doesn’t remember your setting from the previous session, so you have to change it each time you train. Hopefully they will update that with a software update. If you train with this setting on the unit, it will however remember what setting you had it on.

I have also tried training with and without the breathe-link software this week and I must say that I prefer using the computer software. Not only does it allow me to visualise each breath but you can easily look at your training afterwards and see the progression over the week. Training with the unit is great because it is portable but short of writing down the results afterwards I do not have a record of what I am doing, and I am of the digital age where I need everything done electronically and automatically.

Check out my website for detailed screenshots of the tests.



Ben Barwick – Me and my POWERbreathe K5

Hi my name is Ben Barwick and I have just started using the POWERbreathe K5 for training my inspiratory muscles. As I have only been using it for a few days the process has been more of getting used to using the unit and software than actually seeing and feeling any results.

A little about me to begin with. I started running about 18 months ago, when I ended up doing a half marathon on no training in just over 2 hours. Little did I know that on that day, a seed was being sown, which very quickly, with very little cultivation from me, grew into an addiction, a running addiction. I did my first marathon in November 2010, and ran 3:58. I then decided to train properly, and start taking more of an interest in my running. A year on, November 2011, I ran my second marathon, after a journey which involved getting ill the day before a spring marathon and pulling out at 1/2 way, and ran 3:09.

There have been many ups and down but I am now looking at as many ways as possible to enhance my training and get the most out of the body I have. I also suffer from a mild case of Asthma, mainly during the Summer months but I also struggle in the winter chill.

This has led me to POWERbreathe and the K5. I have to say I am really impressed. My favourite part has been using the Breathe-Link software.

I have written an article on Breathing and throughly believe that the product can work because the science exists.

What is the unit like to use?

The K5 is a great looking unit, in the Iron-Man exclusive colourway. It feels slightly weird the first few times I used the product, and took me a couple of days to get used to it. I do not think that I have got the most out of the first few training sessions, as I have got used to the unit. To train you have to breathe out then inhale with a sharp intake of breath, and the unit has a pressure load which you have to inhale through and lift open the pressurised inspiratory valve. It is not too disconcerting having to breathe through a unit which doesn’t allow you to breathe properly, and the settings to begin with haven’t had too much load in.

Read the full K5 review on my website

I will be updating this each week, focusing on a different part of the POWERbreathe experience and my thoughts.

Please leave a comment if you found this blog useful?