Winter Training Advice

If we are to believe the news, the UK this year will experience a colder than average winter. But don’t let this deter you from your winter training.

Winter Training

There are a few things you can do to make your winter training more comfortable.

  1. Perform a warm-up for your muscles.
  2. Perform an inspiratory warm-up.
  3. Dress in layers and protect your hands and feet.
  4. Wear reflective clothing.
  5. Hydrate.

Physical warm-up

A physical warm up prior to any exercise is essential. Firstly it will help to prevent injury. Secondly, it will improve performance. A warm-up will take about 10-minutes and is best performed immediately prior to exercise. If you plan on going out for a run, a 10-minute brisk walk or jog will do the trick.

The intention of a warm-up is to increase muscle temperature. By performing a warm-up you will increase blood flow to your muscles, warming them up. Furthermore, by increasing blood flow, more oxygen will be available for your muscles. As a result, your performance will improve.

The NHS website has a great, all-round exercise warm-up routine that takes about 6-minutes to perform. It involves:

  1. Marching on the spot.
  2. Heel digs.
  3. Knee lifts.
  4. Shoulder rolls.
  5. Knee bends.

Inspiratory warm-up

An inspiratory warm-up means warming up the muscles you use to breathe in. Just like your other working muscles, your breathing muscles benefit too from a warm-up. In fact, not warming up the breathing muscles can lead to excessive breathlessness during the start of your training.

An Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device, such as POWERbreathe IMT, is designed specifically to target the breathing muscles. They use a resistance that you breathe in against. This makes your breathing muscles work harder. As a result, your breathing muscles become stronger and more resistant to fatigue. As a consequence, your stronger breathing muscles will not demand so much oxygen, freeing it up to go to your other working muscles instead. And just like the physical warm-up, more oxygen to your muscles means better performance.

Wear layers and reflective clothing

Wearing layers of clothing allows you to stay warm but easily cool down too when needed. This is beneficial because while training you’ll generate heat. If you’re too warm this heat will make you sweat, and the evaporation of sweat will make you feel chilly. Therefore, the benefits of layering are that you’re able to peel off a layer when you feel warm, and pop it back on when you start to cool down. Additionally, make sure your outer layer – your waterproof layer – is reflective. The reason being, at this time of year it gets dark earlier and this can creep up on you when out training.

In addition to layering your body in clothes, you need to ensure your hands, feet, ears and head stay warm too. In fact, a lot of heat escapes from your head. Furthermore, in the cold, your body firstly ensures your core is warm. This results in blood flow to your hands, feet and head being drawn away, leaving them cold.


In the warmth of summer, it’s easy to remember to drink. However, this is an easy thing to forget during winter training. You may not feel thirsty, but you will still become dehydrated. This happens simply from breathing, as well as sweating. Drinking before, during and after training is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.

Staying safe

Last but not least, stay safe while winter training. Make sure someone knows where you’ll be going. Monitor how you feel while you’re out. Closely monitor the time too, so you know when to head for home. Listen to your body. You know it best. If you’re feeling rotten, consider training another day instead.

Finally, heed the advice from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) on how to stay healthy during winter.

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.

Explosive contraction most effective way to improve muscle strength

A recent study into explosive contraction supports the reasoning behind why the inhalation technique used during POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) must be hard and fast.

Explosive contraction (ECT) vs sustained-contraction (SCT) strength training

In the Journal of Applied Physiology (2016) the study compares the effects of two types of training specificity for strength training. The first type is explosive-contraction strength training (ECT). The second type is sustained-contraction strength training (SCT). Trial participants performed different contractions on the quadriceps muscles located on the front of the thigh.  During ECT they needed to contract as fast and as hard as possible for 1 second. This gradually increased before holding for 3 seconds with SCT.

Study results show explosive-contraction strength training (ECT) is best

The study’s findings show that ECT produces a wider range of functional adaptations than SCT. It also says that “given the lesser demands of ECT, this type of training provides a highly efficient means of increasing function.”

Why is explosive contraction best?

Dr Jonathan Folland at Loughborough University led the study. He shows that explosive contractions are easier and a less tiring way of increasing strength and functional capacity of the muscles. Therefore it is a highly efficient method of training. And the method works by assisting the nervous system in ‘switching on’ and activating the trained muscles to increase their strength.

POWERbreathe IMT uses principle of explosive contraction

When training with POWERbreathe we recommend that you inhale quickly and forcefully, or with explosive contraction. This switches on the breathing muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, and trains them to become stronger.

POWERbreathe IMT training regimen

The POWERbreathe IMT training regimen has sport and clinical science at its heart. In fact it is rigorous and systematic testing that has identified the most effective training regimen of 30 breaths twice a day.

Scientific tests support POWERbreathe IMT training regimen

  1. Specificity and Reversibility of Inspiratory Muscle Training
  2. Acute Cardiorespiratory Responses to Inspiratory Pressure Threshold Loading
  3. The Inspiratory Muscles can be Trained Differentially to Increase Strength or Endurance Using a Pressure Threshold, Inspiratory Muscle Training Device

Watch on YouTube

Have a look at How POWERbreathe Works on our YouTube channel. You will also find a video showing the proper breathing technique, breathing in quickly and forcefully.

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Cleaning Your POWERbreathe

We receive many enquiries from users asking how best to clean their POWERbreathe, so in addition to responding to each person, we thought it might be helpful to compose a short blog about the care and maintenance of your POWERbreathe…

In the user manual that will have accompanied your POWERbreathe, there is a section about Care and Maintenance, and this is where you’ll find cleaning instructions. However, if you have mislaid your user manual you can find some very helpful videos on our POWERbreatheUK YouTube channel in our Playlist: POWERbreathe Instructional Videos

Chapter 4 – Maintenance, will show you how to clean your POWERbreathe.

Why clean your POWERbreathe?

Because you are breathing in through your POWERbreathe it will be exposed to saliva during use and you’ll need to flush this out in order to keep it hygienic and in good working order.

How to clean your POWERbreathe – Classic and Plus Series Only

1. Your POWERbreathe is NOT suitable for sterilisation by boiling, steam, microwave or oven and must not be washed in a dishwasher.

2. A few times a week, soak your entire POWERbreathe unit, including mouthpiece, in warm water for about 10-minutes and then rinse it under warm, running water, paying particular attention to the mouthpiece. Shake off excess water and leave it on a clean towel to air dry.

3. Once a week perform the same procedure as above but use a POWERbreathe Cleansing Tablet in the bowl of water. Again, after soaking it for 10-minutes, rinse out the mild solution by holding the device under warm running water so that the water runs through it, rinsing away any remaining solution. Pay particular attention to rinsing the mouthpiece. Shake off excess water and leave it on a clean towel to air dry.

If further cleaning is necessary (perhaps regular cleaning has lapsed and your POWERbreathe feels as though it’s ‘sticking’), then you can disassemble your POWERbreathe into its component parts and then clean as above.

Our video, POWERbreathe Classic and Plus – What’s in the box demonstrates how you should disassemble each unit for cleaning purposes, and then how to assemble it again, ready for use.

How to clean your POWERbreathe – K-Series Only

1. Your POWERbreathe is NOT suitable for sterilisation by boiling, steam, microwave or oven and must not be washed in a dishwasher.

2. The only part that needs cleaning on your K-Series is the removable valve head and mouthpiece, which is subjected to saliva. You must NOT submerge the entire K-Series model into water, as it is an electronic device and does not need to be sterilised as it doesn’t retain saliva.

We hope this has been helpful, and if there is anything in particular you would like instruction on, then we’re happy to oblige. Please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter and we’ll see what we can do.

POWERbreathe Tips – as submitted by you

If you would like to submit a tip, please email

Stick with POWERbreathe

Stick with it as after the first 5 days it starts to become a habit!. Up to level 9 after 8 weeks with increased Heart Rate and Onset Blood Lactate Accumulation (OBLA). Submitted by Simon Vincent, Totally Cycling Performance. Simon will be sending us a great blog next week so keep an eye out for that one 🙂

PB workout for advanced athletes

5min warmup on 50%, 10min on 75% with a 5/3 – inhale/exhale rhytm, 5min on 80% with 5/2 rhytm, 5min on 75% with a 3/2 rhytm, than 5min on 50% cooldown it is like a Tempo run then a bit of climbing then back to easier tempo. Quiet challenging, but well worth the effort. Submitted by Levente Dorogi

I think like in every sport, specificity is very important. So if you are a standing athlete – runner or hiker – keep on using standing, if you are a paddler seated or kneeled positions are more beneficial. And just popped into my mind, how brilliant tool it is for wheelchair athletes to improve their breathing efficiency. I have to advise the same things, like every coach does. Gradual, patient build up will lead to higher performance, and shorter recoveries. Submitted by Levente Dorogi

If you start off with a Level 5 at the first time and do 50breaths probably next day you won’t have the strength to do it all over again. I think a good way to start is to chose a level what you can use for 1minute, comfortably, twice a day. Then every week add quarter twist on the adjuster, and add 30sec to your time.After 1 month you can incorporate the RM type of workouts, but don’t start with 1 RM and make your lungs collapse. The 20-30RM is a good start, and never go to total failure. Later you can mix up workouts: for instance in a kind of interval session: Warmup – 40RM-10RM-40RM-10RM – Cooldown 50% of your regular PB strength. (RM: Repetition MAX: for instance : 30RM = A level where you can do 30 reps maximum, not more – in our case aim for 33-34 and stop at 30, don’t go to failure). Submitted by Levente Dorogi

You have to experience how many breaths you can do on each level to set up a training like that, but the first month of introductory period is perfect for experimenting.  I am using the POWERbreathe Plus: I know that my 10RM is Level 6-6.5, 20RM is Level 5, 30-40RM is Level 4, and that is the breaking point as on Level 3-3.5 I can train for up to 15minutes. Sometimes I do my core workout and Pilates with the POWERbreathe in my mouth, and use very light SUB Level 2 resistance. Submitted by Levente Dorogi

I also incorporated ‘PB’ into my training: 50breaths before workout as Warming Up on a medium level and 8min as a cooldown after training on 50% of my average training level. I do my stretching before the ‘PB’ cooldown as the 8min standing would stiffen up my muscles. Submitted by Levente Dorogi

My next step is to include ‘PB’ into my Track Sessions. I am starting doing it next week. Cannot wait the effects.(In my opinion even if ‘PB’ cannot claim that it can positively effect VO2max, for the moment, during long term usage it will be inevitable) Submitted by Levente Dorogi

For correct breathing practice

I intend to use the Powerbreathe for ‘fitness and sports performance’, so I will gradually keep increasing the setting until I do find failure, but I am not rushing up the scale because I want to achieve good breathing practice, rather than just a high setting. As some of my sessions didn’t start particularly well in terms of the correct breathing practice I now do what could be called a ‘warm up’. I do 15 correct breaths without the Powerbreathe, this reminds me how I should breathe and perhaps in some small way does prepare the muscles for some harder work when using the Powerbreathe. I find this gives me a much better start to the 30 training breaths. Submitted by Phil Bradbury

Half a turn can make a substantial difference

Depending upon which model of POWERbreathe you have, half a turn can make a substantial difference.

You need to think of the load as having threshold properties. In other words, a relatively small increase in load can tip the muscles over the edge into a state of fatigue.

For example, if you are running close to your best 10k speed, just think about how much difference a 0.5 kph increase in running speed makes to the tolerability of that run. The run becomes non-sustainable and you have to stop or slow down.
Submitted by Alison McConnell, Professor of Applied Physiology Centre for Sports Medicine & Human Performance, Brunel University

Suggested POWERbreathe training for runners

Non-running day: 30 breaths on POWERbreathe twice daily (morning and evening).

Running days: use the POWERbreathe warm-up immediately prior to your run, then do 1 set of 30 breaths at the training load within 30 minutes of completing the run.

Also consider some core training.
Submitted by Alison McConnell, Professor of Applied Physiology Centre for Sports Medicine & Human Performance, Brunel University