Phil Bradbury – POWERbreathe has helped my breathing

I have just completed a 12 week trial with a medium resistance Powerbreathe.

I cycle or row just about every day but do not compete formally so I cannot quote figures of percentage improvement in particular events. Having said that I do push myself very hard whilst riding at the Velodrome and on some club rides which are inevitably very hilly and quite fast.

I only started using the Concept rower for some cross training about 7 months ago so I would expect my performance to improve anyway, that said each week I do a timed one hour row and each week the metres completed increases with what feels like the same effort.

My criteria of success is how I feel under high exercise effort.

As far back as I can remember I felt I ran out of breath long before I ran out of legs, it felt that my breathing had become the limiting factor. I have in the past consulted my doctor about this and had spirometer and exercise ECG tests, both showing for my age of 63 that I am very fit.  This breathing limit has been more obvious in the winter months.

I do perceive a change over the 12 week trial in that I no longer reach the point where I begin to worry that, “this time I have gone too far”, with my breathing. By accident not design the trial has been during the Autumn / Winter months.

Bottom line, I think the Powerbreathe has helped with my breathing and I will continue to use it as part of my daily routine.

Phil Bradbury: Nearly the end of my trial

I have just completed week 10 with the Powerbreathe.

This is my second week at level 5.5, and I now use a mini pyramid of settings each session. By that I mean 10 breaths at a low setting, 10 at a medium setting, 30 at my maximum setting, 10 at medium and finally 10 at low.

This makes sense to me, I think it teaches my muscles to do big full breaths at the low and medium setting, with a full load workout at my maximum setting.

I have just completed week 11 with the Powerbreathe .

Increased setting to 6.0 which is mostly achievable but not always. Still using a pyramid of settings in a full session (see above for an explanation).

At the start of my last week of the 12 week trial feeling it has been worthwhile. I will express a fuller view at the end of this week.
Phil Bradbury


Phil Bradbury – my breathing seems significantly easier (week 9)

I have just completed week 9 with the Powerbreathe.
This week I have moved up to level 5.5 and still doing my 10 breaths at half load, 30 at full load and finishing with 10 at half load.
In December I generally start to feel very tight in my chest when under exercise stress and this does affect my cycling as I struggle to get enough breath in.
I hope I am not tempting fate here, for the first time I can remember this year my breathing is significantly easier and this makes exercise much more productive.
If this continues I will consider using the Powerbreathe has been a success for me.
Phil Bradbury

Phil Bradbury – I’m concentrating on getting fuller breaths (week 8)

I have just completed week 8 with the Powerbreathe.
This week still working at level 5 with my 10 breaths at half load, 30 at full load and 10 at half load routine.
I could probably move the level up a little but I think for me it is more beneficial to concentrate on getting fuller breaths at the current level than shallow breaths at a higher level.

Phil Bradbury – my perception is that my breathing has changed (week 7)

I have just completed week 7 with the Powerbreathe.
At the end of the week I moved up to a setting of 5, still with my 10 breaths at half load, 30 at full load and 10 at half load routine.
I felt able to move the setting up because I was achieving much fuller breaths after a couple of weeks on a setting of 4.5.
My perception is that my breathing has changed since starting using the Powerbreathe,  it feels when I am under high exercise stress that I do breath more with my diaphragm than previously. 
This has made it less stressful.
I have no measure of how this translates into my performance on the rowing machine or bicycle, but it feels better.

Phil Bradbury

Phil Bradbury – My POWERbreathe Training (week 6)

I have just completed week six with the Powerbreathe.
I am still following a pattern of using the Powerbreathe unit in the morning and evening, as I get up and just before going to sleep, I find this is the most convenient for me.
I am still following my regime of doing 10 breaths at half load, 30  breaths at current full load and a further 10 breaths at half load, as I have written previously this seems to enable me to achieve a better overall technique, it feels like a better workout than simply just trying to do the 30 breaths at full load.
I have kept a setting of 4.5 for the second week running, this load is getting easier but not easy so I intend to hold it at this until I am getting a fuller breath on each of the 30.
I think I am starting to feel a change in my breathing when under high exercise stress, I think I am feeling less stress high up in my chest.
Phil Bradbury

Background to my training – week 5 of POWERbreathe

Firstly a little background to my training.


I ride the indoor velodrome twice per week on what is termed ‘structured training sessions’, these session will always include a couple of race situations of all out effort.

I ride on the road twice per week, in winter probably 40 miles per ride, in summer double or sometimes more, we usually end up competing ‘up the hill’ with some high level effort.

Once per week I pilot a tandem with a club that takes non riding children and adults out for half a day, not fast but can be hard work. I use my rowing machine twice per week as a cross training exercise, sometimes for me long rows of 15000m or more and sometimes faster shorter rows, so maybe its a easy recovery day or maybe its much more effort than that.

I do not take part in official competition, my blog will not contain measured differences in my performance, what it will contain is my perception of change.

Two things I am hoping to improve by using the Powerbreathe.

Firstly when I am really trying I push myself to a level at which causes me actual physical and mental distress, I often think, ‘this time I have overdone it, this time I am not going to recover’, gladly I always have. The most distressing aspect of this is a breathing overload, I feel like I cannot get enough air to even begin to recover, and I feel this high up in my chest.

Secondly during winter my chest seems to ‘tighten up’ significantly exaggerating the above. In the past I have been so concerned that I have consulted the doctor and been given lung function tests and stressed ECG tests, gladly both have found nothing abnormal, the doctors response being, ‘act your age and stop trying to compete against younger people’. I was prescribed an inhaler to use before training to ease my breathing, I did try this for a few weeks but I couldn’t perceive any significant difference so at the moment do not use it. So a success for me would be my perception that these two phenomena have changed for the better.

My plan is to consistently use the Powerbreathe as a stand alone training aid, I do not intend to use it as part of a warm up regime because although I do warm up at the start of any exercise it is part of the session, I am not aiming to warm up and then take part in some formal competition, my all out efforts are much less structured than that.

I have now completed five weeks with the Powerbreathe and I have missed only one session during that time. I think it is very easy to use the Powerbreathe incorrectly by increasing the load to quickly and falling into the shallow breathing / panting trap. My technique to counter this is to do 10 breaths at half my current maximum setting, I think this re-establishes a good breathing technique and gets my muscles ready for some higher loads, I then do the full 30 breaths, I then do a further 10 breaths again at half load. I believe the half load breathing reminds me what I should be achieving when doing the full load breaths, so keeping me out of the shallow breathing /panting trap.

With this regime I am now on a full load of 4.5, and I know that this is an overload because in comparison to my half load breathing I am not yet getting full breaths.

So am I meeting my success criteria? I am feeling some changes which I will write about when I am more certain that these are significant and not just because I am ‘on form’.

Better breathing journey week 4

Just completed the fourth week of using the Powerbreathe unit.

1) Still maintaining two daily sessions with the Powerbreathe.

2) I think I may have moved up the resistance setting too fast for my progress as I wasn’t really achieving adequate breaths at any point, dropped back down from 4.5 to 4.0.

3) Not sure yet that I am feeling any difference in my breathing when I am training.

Phil Bradbury

POWERbreathe user trial – Phil Bradbury: Now on my third week

Just completed the third week of using the Powerbreathe unit and here is my update 🙂 Would love your comments below.

  1. I continue to consistently carry out two sessions per day with the Powerbreathe. Still gradually moving the setting upwards and have just moved up to 4.5, at which I find it difficult to reach the full 30 breaths, so I will keep working at that.
  2. As the loading as increased I find I need to concentrate more on my breathing practice, its too easy to fall into a panting style.  To maintain good practice requires a determined effort on each breath and this has made me slow down and pay attention.
  3. Just out of interest I reset the unit down to my starting point of zero and tried a few breaths at increments back up to my current setting. Memory is unreliable but from memory it did feel as though my ability to take full breaths at the these lower setting was significantly improved.
  4. I don’t yet have a view of the effect of this training on my cycling or rowing, but I don’t think three weeks is a lot of training.

Phil Bradbury

POWERbreathe User Trial: Phil Bradbury – Gradual progression

Just completed the second week of using the POWERbreathe unit.

1) I have been gradually moving up the setting scale and am now on a setting of 3.5 which feels like that is just about the point where I am failing to achieve the full 30 breaths.

2) As the resistance increases the effort required it has started to feel uncomfortable around my face and neck.

3) I don’t yet have an opinion on whether the exercise is changing my performance in any way, but early days yet.

4) In the past I have always felt that at this time of year my breathing becomes a greater limit to my performance than in summer, so proceeding with interest.

Phil Bradbury