The Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing – Ventilation and Breathing Pattern

We know we have many POWERbreathe friends and users who’re also indoor rowers, and with that in mind we thought we’d bring to your attention this Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing – one of the ‘Complete Guide’ series from Bloomsbury Publishing Plc that blends expert information and accessibility.

Title: The Complete Guide to Indoor Rowing
Authors: Jim Flood and Charles Simpson
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1-4081-3332-3

This comprehensive training manual has been written by two authorities on the subject: Jim Flood, tutor and assessor for indoor and outdoor rowing coaches who also works internationally helping countries raise their coaching levels to Olympic standards; and Charles Simpson PhD, Senior Lecturer in Exercise and Sports Science at Oxford Brookes University and rowing coach in the UK, USA and Australia.

Written and illustrated for the serious athlete, home indoor rower, outdoor rower and regular gym user alike, it features detailed training plans, tips and techniques, including the importance of the ventilation system and breathing.

Because there is a focused section on ‘Ventilation and Breathing Pattern’, it’s no surprise that POWERbreathe is referred to:

“POWERbreathe devices (see figure 5.1) are now popular with indoor rowers and the results described above provide some support for their use.”

In this section of the book the authors explain how the ventilation system of indoor rowers must be capable of providing high volumes of air in order to deliver oxygen to the blood. They also looked at breathing patterns, comparing the synchronised breathing pattern of experienced rowers that matched the different phases of the rowing stroke, with non-rowers who weren’t able to connect their breathing to these separate phases of the stroke and simply ended up breathing at random.

The authors also revealed that German research found important differences between the size of the two breaths used in the two breaths per stroke pattern used by experienced rowers during high intensity rowing. This suggested that there could be physical limits to breathing during high intensity indoor rowing due to the compressed position of the upper body at the catch, and…

“Additionally, the muscles that normally assist deep inspiration are also important for stabilising the upper body. Upper body stability is essential to the production of high power output during the drive phase of maximal intensity rowing, making it more difficult for a rower to inhale during this phase of the stroke.”

“There are also suggestions that respiratory muscles may develop fatigue during intense indoor rowing. Given these different possible restrictions on breathing during rowing, it may be possible to improve rowing performance by targeting specific ways to improve breathing during rowing.”

In support of all this, and available on the POWERbreathe website, are several research papers and review articles that look at Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) and exercise-induced inspiratory muscle fatigue, including one that also supports the suggestion that a high respiratory demand ‘steals’ blood from the legs during rowing which reduces overall rowing performance. 

So by training the breathing muscles with POWERbreathe to become stronger, blood flow demand by the respiratory muscles will be reduced and cardiac output to your leg muscles increased, improving your performance.

Read more about how POWERbreathe could help improve your rowing performance, or if you’re already using POWERbreathe then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read more about POWERbreathe for indoor rowing on our blog.