Samuel Dallimore Week 12: POWERbreathe comes to an end, what a fabulous journey

This week has been by far the most progressive of all the weeks I’ve been training on the POWERbreathe, I have finally been able to up the resistance to 4! I’m sticking to between 3.5-4 depending on how tired I am after training as the Loughborough University swim squad pre season program is now under way! This means lots of cross training and can mean feeling out of you depth at times ( no pun intended) due to the varied methods in which we can train our bodies, this can be a whole mix of things such as circuits, pool based circuits, spinning, medicine ball sets, core sets and running, however unfortunately due to my injuries, running is off the list I’m told by the physio.

I really like pre season training as it’s so varied and it also means my injuries are much less problematic as the repetitious nature of the actions are naturally reduced once you mix it up a bit are continually changing the exercises. Pre season training normally lasts most of September and sometimes into early October on occasions, then we get into more of a swimming based shedule and routine for the rest of the year. That means  moving back to 4:30am starts three times a week and afternoons/ evenings swimming thousand and thousands of meters per week! Not to mention the gym and circuit sets aswell which are just as hard! I absolutely love it though, and I mean that truthfully, there’s a very strange sense of satisfaction getting up that early and training until you’ve nothing left to give, then a nap and a good meal and you do it all again in the evening 6 days a week! It just becomes addictive in the end, you adapt and adjust to it so much that you thrive off of it and depend on training so much to almost regulate yourself, it’s a brilliant feeling and something I will never give up trying to achieve.

Training and swimming have become a part off who I am, and I will never truly stop, I will always want to exercise as I pretty much have since I can remember and it’s a brilliant thing to have that close connection with ones fitness, health and body that comes from such intense and regular exercise. All this has been helped massively with adding in my POWERbreathe training, it really does make you less breathless and I can say from a swimmer’s perspective it increases performance. Also, when I couldn’t push myself in training due to injuries or niggles I had to find a way to keep my lungs and breathing muscles in shape, the POWERbreathe facilitated that and gave me the boost I needed.


Samuel Dallimore Week 11: Improvements all round with POWERbreathe

This weeks training has gone well, my POWERbreathe work has come along strongly this week and I’m really feeling better for it. I feel a lot more in control of breathing in and out whilst under demand when I’m exercising, particularly for swimming. I’ve been doing a lot of pilates this week and again I’m feeling a lot more stable and in control of the areas of injury, this is due to the muscle groups required to stabilise the joints to prevent further injury have become a lot more engaged. This means that when the joint is put under a load or strain, the muscles are engaging at the correct time and place to enable the load to be spread over the body rather than focused to the weakest point which is what has been happening before.

There are two aspects to my rehab, the nervous system and the muscular system. Because my muscles where not engaging properly, I hadn’t development enough of a connection to certain muscles to enable me to fully control their on/ off engaging or contraction. This meant the body wasn’t taking the loads how it was designed and hence wore and tore in the wrong areas, areas not meant to cope with that strain.

The second aspect after The neural points is the muscular development, on top of getting a better engagement and control of the muscle, the muscle will also increase in tone, overall strength and endurance with rehab. With all this considered it makes the muscle so much more functional and better able to cope with strains and loads beard upon it. This is why I feel so much better at the moment, because my muscles ( particularly my core) are getting so much more functional and so my general aches and pains are much lower.

Check back next week for my final instalment of my POWERbreathe trial.

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Samuel Dallimore Week 10: POWERbreathe out of the pool

This week I haven’t managed to get in the pool unfortunately and so I’ve had to compensate my training with increasing other areas to continue the progression I’ve seen. Importantly keeping up the POWERbreathe training at resistance 3 is very important for fitness and breathing function. I find that with the increased resistances such as 3 and higher the body is under quite a lot of strain when trying to suck the air through the POWERbreathe device, but with good technique what I find happens is that multiple muscle groups are recruited to help the body to breathe, this is a natural response of the body as it knows that the same resistance spread across multiple muscles will make it easier. So not only do the inter-costal muscles and diaphragm become engaged but also the core and some back muscles too.

For me, this is important because I find I get a much more engaging and thorough workout when using my POWERbreathe, so when I hit the pool and I require vast amounts of air to be breathed in at high rates, I am able to cope as my whole body and core are able to work together to help the breathing process. Apart from the inter-costals and diaphragm, these other muscles don’t actually directly contribute to the breathing process but they act as synergists (I’ll have to check that term but I think that is what it’s called) which means that by them contracting and or tensing they help link the body together and connect it in order to cope with the strain. It’s similar if you were to pick up something heavy, the main muscle groups will be in your legs, however you will notice that all of your arms, core and back muscles tense up as well – this is because they are helping to connect the body so there are no soft or weak areas. The point I’m trying to make is that this principle which applies to my POWERbreathe training has a massive effect. I noticed a slight increase in the definition of certain muscles in the core when I started and also with regular use it helps to strengthen my torso in certain areas I find, due to the fact that I am working on higher resistances on the hardest level of my POWERbreathe.

I’m not saying this is fact, but it’s a perceived observation that I have noticed. To come back to having to increase other areas of my training due to not having been able to get in the pool this week, I’ve done extra sessions of Pilates. I’ve been doing 2-2.5hour sessions, made up of 1.5 hours of core work mostly all based on Pilates and then some rehabilitation exercises given to me by my physiotherapist, then 1 hour of a full body intensive stretch. The core exercises were as follows: bent knee leg raises, shoulder bridge with leg raise combo, full body curl-ups, superman’s, alternate arm and leg raises on front, hamstring leg curl-ups lying down, side leg raises with double leg combo, set of 3x 1 minute straight arm planks, knee to arm touches in straight arm plank position, 1 minute 15second hold of pike position, back raises, side knee raises, tricep press ups, regular press ups, alternate elbow to knee touch crunches with alternate extended leg combo. Finally I stretched my arms and legs in every direction and loosened off my torso, I did most of the well known and some speciality stretches. By the end of the session I felt amazing, because my back had no strain or tension in it as it had all been worked out through the Pilates, and with the stretching I got out those last few knotted areas. Although it seems like a lot of hard work, I fully recommend it as you will feel amazing afterwards!


Samuel Dallimore Week 9: POWERbreathe and rock climbing

Its been a good week for strength training this week, with a good session of 1.5 hours of intensive rock climbing at my local leisure centre with a frriend who was an experienced climber. As egos do, the competition got going, seeing who could climb a certain wall or part with the least number of moves, or time. We stuck to a new aspect of rock climbing thats growing in popularity lately called bouldering, which means to climb without harnesses or ropes.

Often the rock faces one climbs are not anywhere near as high as when rope climbing due to the fact that the risk increases and so its not safe to climb too high. At certain leisure centers they have bouldering areas which have a padded floor so that when and if you fall from the wall you will have a soft landing, though if you don’t land on your legs and upright then the fall still can be quite dangerous. I chose this form of rock climbing as it allows a much greater sense of freedom and flexibility in where and how one can climb. This is very appealing to me from an athletes point of view as i would be able to challenge myself much more and work my body much more holistically than with just conventional climbing.

After a short while it didn’t take long for the lactic acid to build up in certain areas and it became much harder! I love this feeling, as its the moment you have to mentally and physically push yourself even harder, because you are now at a disadvantaged position or weakness. Its that challenge I crave so dearly and can only be met by a activities and exercises such as these. I also practiced traversing, which is climbing sideways across the rock faces, utilizing totally different muscles groups again, and encompassed a whole new set of challenges. No matter which path one takes when bouldering, the hardest part is the fact you can’t take a break!

As you have no harnesses or ropes to hold you up, if you let go then it’s a 15ft -20ft fall to the ground or more in some cases. It’s quite an adrenaline rush some times, and the higher you go the more it intensifies! I not being a small guy by any means, struggle with the aspect of this. In that, if I hang around up there for too long then my arms get tired very quickly trying hold up my body weight and so I can’t hold on any longer. The trick is as i’m reliably informed to try and move as quickly, smoothly and efficiently as possible, that way you don’t tire out the arms and hands too much. It’s easier said than done I can assure you to anyone who hasn’t done it before.

The last aspect of this training session was to attempt to perform some body weight exercises to work the larger muscle group and develop a bit of strength. So me and my climbing partner, set challenges to climb up a medium level difficulty rock face and we had to grab hold of two rocks at the top hieght of where we were allowed to climb to and then do as many pull ups as we could and climb back down again. This really got the blood pumping! Because my muscles were all ready tired by the time I had gotten to the top, so trying to perform multiple pull ups was a challenge, but I love challenges as I say so I gave it my all. In the end after an 1.5 hours of this I was exhausted, I finished off with 45minutes in the pool of cardiovascular and some sprint work and that was me finished.

Samuel Dallimore Week 8: POWERbreathe hits the pool

This week has been a good overall training week, in that I managed to get in the pool and practise all the areas I wanted, with inuries permitting, and I also got into the gym a few times to work on strength development. I already feel so much stronger from all the Pilates classes, free weights and body weight exercises! The benefits I’ve seen in the pool are great so far, I’m noticing that I don’t feel as strained or tense and so the injuries aren’t playing up as much which is great. I’ve been trialing out under the recommendation of the POWERbreathe Guru using my Powerbreathe in my training, so have been taking it down to the pool and doing breath holding and or hard lengths of the pool and having to catch my breath back through only the Powerbreathe.

The set I was doing was as follows:

Warm up the lungs by breathing through Powerbreathe on resistance 2

1 x 50m swim, maximum of 3 breaths over the 50m, approx 8 breaths through Powerbreathe at the end

2 x 50m swim, maximum of 2 breaths over the 50m, approx 8 breaths through Powerbreathe at the end

2 x 50m swim, maximum of 1 breath over the 50m, approx 8 breaths through Powerbreathe at the end

4 x 50m swim, no  breathing over the 50m, approx 8 breaths through Powerbreathe at the end

*All breathing through the Powerbreathe on the 50m swims was done using resistance 2

By the last 50m I was exhausted, as I had put my breathing muscles and cardiovascular system through a tough workout, I felt really pleased with how it went and how hard I managed to push myself. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone though as you need to have had training in hypoxic breath holding training as there are some risks involved with forcing yourself not to breathe for long periods of time. I have been doing this for a few years now and so have built up the ability to hold my breath and to tolerate being in an hypoxic state. In light doses practising hypoxic work is a great way to work the cardiovascular system without putting a great deal of strain on one’s muscles and so that’s why I’m doing a fair bit of it at the moment until I build up enough strength to push myself in swimming like I used to.

POWERbreathe Trial – Samuel Dallimore Week 7: My best blog yet

This week has gone very well, with a great mixture of training environments, swimming, gym, weights and Pilates Classes. Continuing from the previous week, I have further embraced these training methods and I’m starting to feel the benefits more and more as time goes by. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I had an ear infection and so had to stop using the Powerbreathe so as not to put a strain on my sinuses, I did loose a little breathing strength because of it, but it’s already built back to where it was in terms of the resistance of 2.5/3. I’m really enjoying some long workouts at the moment, sometimes lasting well over 3 hours! An hour of Pilates, followed immediately by 45/60 minutes of weights and then straight into the pool for over an hour is typical! By the end I can certainly say I’m ready to pack up and have a rest, but it’s that feeling of satisfaction that I crave so dearly. It’s very difficult to mimic if you only train for an hour or so at a time but I can safely say that when I finish those long workouts I’ve used up a lot of my energy and am in much need of a lot of food and rest!

I hope to gradually increase the intensity of my training closer to where it used to be, and I’ll be doing this in all areas of my training including the Powerbreathe. I want to push harder and faster in everything but I know I must be patient and take small steps. I had a simple rule of thumb when I was at my peak in November 2010, everything I did, I trained as hard as I possibly could, not a single push up, or stroke of a swim went by where I wasn’t thinking to myself to push harder and harder. The problem is, that, it takes its toll on your body doing that and it has to be able to cope with that level of strain. It was and I did, that’s why I was as fit and in as great a shape as I was, but when I injured my back and shoulders, that all changed. I could no longer push myself, I wasn’t aloud to, I had to voluntarily “take it easy” as my physio said, which was very hard for me. For an elite and dedicated athlete hoping to make the Olympics one day, I can tell you this is hard, we hate taking things easy, we feel we are letting ourselves down somehow even if it’s because your injured, crazy as it sounds but we have to have that harsh mentality of pushing ourselves to be able to cope with the very hard and draining levels of training. Otherwise you won’t be able to drive yourself to get up at 4:30am and exercise at an intense level, or push yourself beyond what you had set as your barriers.

I had to learn very fast an enormous  amount of patience, otherwise if I didn’t, and if I didn’t take things easy, then I would simply make the injuries worse than they already were and I would set back my return to the sport even further. When my physio answered the question “how long is it going to take to get back” the words I heard next were not welcome but I was going to just have to accept them….She replied with months, possibly 6 months or more to build up your rehab and joints to get back. Inside I was crushed, as I had only 2.5 months of decent training at Loughborough and the last 2/3weeks being semi injured and on/off training, then I’m told it’s going to be 6 months before Im back!, that effectively meant the year was a right off. No PB’s. No more Level one competitions, no Nationals, Nothing! It was very tough for me to accept and it caused a great deal of distress, I had to consider maybe was this a sign trying to tell me not to swim again, or to just quit exercise in general? I had lot of thinking to do and I had to reassess my goals quickly and how I was going to work myself out of this.

As any elite athlete will tell who’s been seriously injured, it’s not the fall that’s the hardest part, it’s the getting back up with a smile on your face and trying to have the eyes of determination you had when you fell. For me the fall has meant warn cartilage in both shoulder sockets, warn cartilage in the colar bone to shoulder joint in both shoulders, impingement of ligaments in both shoulders, partial prolapsed disk in L4 vertibrea, osteo arthritis in the facet joints of the L4 &L5 spinal vertibrea and lastly tendinitis of both bicep tendons.  Not a list I like repeating as I’m sure anyone reading this can understand, but in the face of adversity, sometimes it can only make you stronger and more determined to succeed. After many months of hating how unfair the cards I had been dealt were for my sporting goals, I realized that if I wanted to succeed in the sport and move on from being injured I was going to have to completely re-think how I train and motivate myself. This may sound odd, but it’s quite logical, for I had a simple formula for creating motivation before as I said, I used to go for it, try as hard as I could and try to beat everyone in everything that I did, in pressups, or a sprint swim or how long I could swim underwater for, it was very simple, like an on/off button for motivation. But this approach wasn’t going to work coming back from very serious injury and time off, I had to build a structure that would create and channel my frustration of not being able to swim like my fellow athletes and make internal personal goals within the sets and sessions I did. I knew I couldn’t swim off the rep times that I used to, and there was no point in trying, all that would do is to injure me again.

So I had to try and change the way I actually see exercise in my mind, and that’s very difficult to do and describe if you haven’t trained at elite level before, but when you have there’s a unanimous agreement of roughly what it’s like. When I exercise hard, in the gym or in the pool, when I feel my body straining and screaming out from all the lactic acid building up or my heart pounding at 190+ BPM, you usually think about how hard it is right? sometimes, but a lot of my fellow athletes and I actually enjoy this hard feeling, we embrace it and thrive off of it, almost like an addiction to exercise if you will. When you have managed to get to the more elite levels of training, you learn how to block out that strain and pain and on the most part to be able to focus on pushing yourself and having good technique. Then comes the enjoyment, I love the feeling of my body at the limit of its potential, when my heart rate goes up to 190+ and I’m swimming, or lifting or cycling as hard as I can, there’s nothing that makes you feel so alive and fresh.

All of that goes on inside you mind when you train at this level, and I had to learn not all most not enjoy it as much so I wouldn’t get drawn in to training too hard. I had to effectively train myself not to like it as much, otherwise I would want to do more and more and would get injured again. It’s very hard to describe, so I ask for you to picture the thing you love or love doing the most in the whole world, and imagine something takes it away from you, and then it will be returned to you in very small measured doses, and if you have or want too much of it, it’s taken away again for another 6 months all over. You can begin to see how frustrating and how very easy it is to go round in circles with injures sometimes, and how difficult it is to have a “slow and steady” recovery as an elite athlete and come back.

I’m still not properly back yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was before, I’m determined to not only get back to where I was but to surpass it. Then I will be truly happy with where I stand in my sport again, until then I use that frustration and turn it into motivation to be as thorough and patient as possible to defeat the injuries. I have turned it into my own little competition, the injuries being my opponent, and to beat them I must be as patient and calm as possible. They will win if I try too hard too early on, those are the rules of this mental competition I have going on and so far (fingers crossed) I’m ahead.

Why not read more on how POWERbreathe can improve swimming performance.


POWERbreathe Trial – Samuel Dallimore Week 6: Back into the water

This week has been one of the best weeks training in a long time, I really feel that things are starting to get back to the way they were. I would say it’s more mind than body at the moment, in that I mean I am getting the correct mindset and routine back that I had before I became seriously Injured in November 2010.

As I mentioned in my last post I was getting into alternate training methods such as rock climbing and Pilates. I went rock climbing on Friday evening with a friend who’s an experienced climber to help get me into the swing of things. I took to it quite quickly, before I knew it I was taking fairly difficult routes up the walls and really putting my strength and muscular endurance to the test. We climbed for just over an hour and by the end I can safely say I have alot of respect for professional climbers and how athletic they have to be to climb the huge feats such as cliff faces, mountains and even buildings they were saying to me!!!

I’ve also gotten back into Pilates classes for core strength and rehabilitation, as the doctors have recommended it will help me to get back to where I was in November 2010. I’ve tried Pilates before and had some good initial success with it, so I’m continuing with and hopefully will see those developments tranfer into the pool. The powerbreathe training is still going well with slow and steady, with most importantly continual progress. I’m continuing on with a 3 times per day of 30 breaths as recommended by the Powerbreathe Guru which will allow me to push my inter-costal muscles further and gain hopefully increased benefits that I will see in the pool too.


Read how Powerbreathe improves swimming performance

POWERbreathe Trial – Samuel Dallimore Week 5: Back into the water

After a disrupted schedule last week due to an ear infection i’m getting back into training in and out of the pool. I swam last night properly for the first time in a while due to having to be out of the water until my ear had cleared up, we call it “swimmers ear” as it’s a common problem with all the hours spent in the pool. I could feel that I’ve lost overall strength and particularly in my shoulders and core, which are some of the major contributors for generating power and speed in the water. As i may have mentioned before I’m hoping to start cross training to mix things up a bit as well as to gain some of the specific benefits that can come from alternate strength, power and fitness training methods.

Rock climbing is being talked about alot now in many sports for an alternate supplement to an athletes training and in swimming this is particularly so. Some of my fellow swimming friends have been doing it for a while now and all have said that its great for holistic workout for strength and core development. This is perfect for me as that’s exactly what I need to develop most importantly. Being a sprint swimmer, having a good power to weight ratio is critical, but you still need a good base of strength to be able to apply what power you have without over loading your body with too many stresses and strains. This is a problem I’ve struggled with a lot, as I have power but relatively not as much strength overall or in my core.

This means I fatigue quite quickly because the strength that I have is being fully utilized to keep up with the demands i’m putting on my body, so not having any strength to spare and asking 100% of my muscles causes this fast fatiguing. Luckily I compete in sprint events which last around 50/60 seconds approximately depending on the event. So all I have to do is go for it and try to hang on to the finish, which is easier said than done I can tell you. I’m really looking forward to getting to the point at which i’m back into a full time training program again and to have my fitness restored to where it was back in November 2010. This coupled with my new powerbreathe program as recommended by the PowerBreathe Guru will hopefully get me to achieve these goals.

If you have a question for POWERbreathe Guru why not ask him one here

POWERbreathe Trial – Samuel Dallimore Week 4: Ouch ear infection

My training routine has been interrupted this week with last minute changes in schedule and an unexpected ear infection, but as all athletes experience from time and time, you will run into problems. I had certain goals I wanted to achieve this week such as introducing alternate training methods such as rockclimbing, free-weights and increasing the swimming training after resting off for a bit. All though these goals may have been affected this week, i know i must reset them and not let an unpredictable set of circumstances effect me as an athlete. I will have to ease off of the powerbreath training a little so as not to aggravate my ear infection, but I see this as an opportunity to find something to do to make up for it. This will be to set a goal to practice more diaphragm breathing exercises, so i’m still working my breath control and strength to continue general progression in this area without causing more damage or setbacks which would come from pushing too far on the Powerbreath. From having been through all different kinds of difficult injuries I have learnt that patience is key to everything in sport, and this situation is a great example of that. I wont be able to swim until it clears up and so I must adjust my training routine to accommodate respectively. Setbacks happen often sometimes and its what you do when one occurs that defines who you are as an athlete, I am choosing to see this as an opportunity to progress in other areas I would not have other wised trained because I would have been swimming more. So Diaphragm exercises, increased strength and core work to stay out of the water will be on the plans for this week and I’m looking forward to it rather than seeing it as a negative.

POWERbreathe Trial – Samuel Dallimore Week 3: Resistance level 3 woohoo

I’ve progressed well this week and I’m now at resistance 3 on the performance plus model, to feel improvement in breathing strength already has surprised me alot but I’ve stuck to the routine of using my powerbreath twice a day and I think this is obviously the direct result of this. My fitness has continued to rise and I feel so much more comfortable with my breath control, and also with this I’m finding a lot less tension in my chest and inter-costal muscles. Over all I’d say the improvements are starting to show through and I’m looking forward to the future progression and developments with more extensive use of the powerbreathe.