Getting the most benefits from Inspiratory Muscle Training

The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ applies equally well to the inspiratory muscles as it does to your leg muscles. Everyone becomes lazy at some point and a classic example is using the lift because you get out of breath using the stairs. If this is you then you don’t realise it but your inspiratory muscles are getting less exercise.

Most clinical trials that have focused on IMT have all returned positive results. These results indicated that IMT improves sports performance in swimmers, rowers and runners (source: Volianitis et al, 2001; Klusiewicz et al, 2008; Riganas et al, 2008) cyclists (Romer et al, 2002a; Romer et al, 2002b), and swimmers (Kilding et al, 2010; Wells et al, 2005; Mickleborough et al, 2008).

Not only were clinical trials conducted on sports professionals but they were also conducted on people who had respiratory conditions such as COPD, asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, anyone who has heart disease or a lung disorder or anyone who suffers shortness of breath. From all the studies conducted the end result was the same – inspiratory muscle training using a breathing trainer provides the following benefits:

  • Reduction in dyspnoea during exercise in athletes and during light exercise for respiratory patients.
  • Reduced medication and improved quality of life in people with respiratory illness.
  • Increased endurance in patients with improvements in some lung function.

Improves rowing performance

As soon as you introduce IMT into your rowing programme you will notice the benefits almost immediately. Rowing requires you to use your breathing muscles. By using a breathing trainer the rower is able to control their breathing pattern as well as improve their intercostal muscle function.

Respiratory SymptomImproves running performance

Runners who use a breathing trainer will find it allows them to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern while also enhancing their core stability and improving their overall postural control when running.

Improves cycling performance

Using a breathing trainer for cycling is very effective. Inspiratory muscle training will improve breathing and improve the cyclist’s ability to maintain a correct breathing pattern. Regular training with a breathing trainer will also allow the inspiratory muscles to operate comfortably in the most extreme of cycling positions.

Using a breathing trainer for inspiratory muscle training can enhance the overall function of the breathing muscles for anyone who participates in high performance sports such as football, rowing and cycling. However, if you suffer from any respiratory illnesses such as COPD or asthma, then a breathing training device is a great supplementary COPD treatment aid.

Breathing techniques for singing

Singing is all about having a good technique. Like any other sport you can train yourself to become better at it. How do you do this? Simple, you need to use various breathing techniques related to singing which help you exercise and train your lungs, vocal chords, diaphragm and help you with breath control to enable you to make your voice more powerful which means you can hold notes for much longer.

Before using any breathing techniques to help your singing you first need to learn some basic breathing techniques to help you breathe normally. These basics will teach you how the lungs, diaphragm and trachea all work together to help you breathe.

When you breathe in your lungs will fill up with air. This should be a natural process. Under no circumstance should you be sucking in your stomach to make room for your diaphragm. At this point your body extracts the oxygen from your lungs leaving only carbon dioxide which you breathe back out. Also, when you breathe out your diaphragm will gently squeeze the lungs to push the air out

To put in simple terms, you should be breathing deeply and exhaling all the waste carbon dioxide from your lungs without forcing it out. This is done to make room for the new fresh air that your draw with your next breath. The more you breathe in and the more you manage to breathe out will help you hold your notes much longer. Breathing naturally also affects your singing performance as your notes will not sound forced or as though you are shouting them instead of singing them.

Breathing correctly

A quick breathing technique will tell you if you are breathing correctly. To start with lie flat on your back. Place your hand on your stomach so your fingers touch.  Start breathing in, you will feel how your stomach and chest move as they are filled with oxygen. You will be breathing correctly if you notice your stomach filling with air and expanding upwards towards your chest so that you end up with your stomach concave and your chest puffed outwards.

This is how you breathe normally and from here if you find you are breathing poorly you should use this position to consciously alter how you breathe and force yourself to allow for that ‘rolling’ motion up your stomach into your chest. Using these breathing techniques singing you can then fix your general breathing to enable you to sing and talk with more power and with more available air.

However singing is quite different from breathing normally as it requires you to exhale for long periods of time and to control the rate at which you let air escape. This requires control and again this can be trained using breathing techniques.

Controlling your breath

By using the method described above, you can try to alter the speed at which you breathe and how you let air escape. While maintaining good technique, breathe in continuously for the count of five seconds, then hold your breath for five seconds, then exhale continuously for five and begin again. You will find that breathing out for five whole seconds can be tricky as you quickly run out of breath, it is here then that control comes in to play as you have to use your breath control to let the air out slowly enough that you can breathe out for that long. This is how you learn to make the best of the amount of air your lungs can hold when holding a note. As you improve you can then begin increasing the number to control your inwards and outwards breaths for longer or shorter periods of time, just as you will need to in order to fit the phrasing of various songs.

A similar exercise used by some singers to train control is to breathe using a steady rhythm then ‘sing’ a number on each outwards breath, counting to say 20. This again requires control and each time it comes round to a count you need to be ready to have the right amount of air ready. This means inhaling and exhaling the correct amount at a steady rate.

As well as using breathing techniques singing style to control your breath, you can also benefit from simply holding more air in your lungs and so should work on increasing your lung capacity. You can do this with cardiovascular exercise which will help train your lungs, as will swimming underwater and holding your breath. By combining a larger lung capacity with a greater ability to control your breathing you will be armed with the ability to hold your notes and project them loudly and proudly.

Of course like all forms of training, the best form is to keep practicing. If you want to get better at singing, and singing in a certain way, then simply make sure you do vocal exercises and carry out breathing exercises often and try to enjoy what you do. That is the best way to improve on every facet of your technique.


Top tips for comfortable breathing this allergy season

This time of the year usually means hayfever, itchy eyes, runny nose, asthma and itchy skin.  If you suffer from any of the above there are some simple and natural strategies that you can use instead of running for the antihistamines or steroids which tend to worsen the problems that cause you to have allergies.

So here are some top tips from us:

#1 Boost your immune system

Often when we talk about allergies, we are looking at relief and the best way to achieve this is by boosting the immune system. You should look at eliminating anything that can weaken your immune system – usually foods which are high in sugar.  Look at your diet and eliminate refined foods and foods high in sugar. Substitute these foods with foods that have natural ammunition, foods such as carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and garlic.  Try and bin the stress you are under and take up meditation, deep breathing exercises as well as going for a nice long walk.

#2 Visit that diet

Any sensitivity issues you have with food can also cause the same runny nose, and sinusitis symptoms you experience with environmental allergies.  Set yourself on an elimination diet which is simple to do. All you need to do is remove the most common culprits including any dairy, wheat, eggs and soy products.  After two weeks you will know if food sensitivities contribute to your allergy symptoms. The next step is to introduce the foods back into your diet every few days until you find the offender. You should only do this under the supervision of your GP.

#3 A healthy liver leads to a healthier life

The liver is the organ in our body which is solely responsible for metabolising all of the histamine that is released by numerous cells in the body. If the liver becomes distressed or congested it doesn’t work as it should and all the histamine removal gets backed up, hence worsening the symptoms you are suffering.  A distressed liver may not show up in blood work until it is 80 percent compromised.

Eliminating or reducing unnecessary drugs, alcohol, caffeine and environmental stressors needs to be considered. Feeding the liver vegetables, beet greens and milk thistle helps in restoring function to the liver. If you are on any medication, it’s always best to check that there are no contraindications before taking a supplement, such as milk thistle.

#4 Healthy adrenal glands

Your adrenal glands function as the braking system for your immune system by secreting cortisol to keep the immune response from going unrestrained. Common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction include lack of energy, fatigue, sleep disturbances, muscle and joint pain and chronic stress

Adrenal function can be easily assessed with saliva testing. If adrenal dysfunction exists, caffeine and sugar need to be eliminated from the diet. Foods and whole food supplements rich in the B and C complexes nourish the adrenals.

#5 Move well and rest well

Much research, studies and tests have shown that regular exercise can be a help in combating seasonal allergies.  Regular exercise helps your body burn off accumulated stress that is placed on the liver, immune system and gut.  Regular exercise improves the function of these systems.

Inspiratory muscle training using a breathing trainer can help you perfect your breathing as well as maximise your physical exercise, and strengthen the muscles that you use to breathe.

If you found this blog post useful, please leave a comment below.


Dean Ball – POWERbreathe week 1 completed

So, I’ve completed my first full week with my PowerBreathe Plus and I must say that I’ve enjoyed my 60 breaths a day for 7 days, eventually.

Dean BallI’m not a teller of lies; I’ve found it difficult, the first couple of days, I thought what had I got myself into, I decided on a rethink of what I was actually doing and how I was going about things.

After looking at how I was using my POWERBreathe I figured I was looking for a quick fix, I wanted the results there and then, I wanted healthier lungs in 2 days but my rethink made me discover that wasn’t going to happen.

One issue I addressed, which the PowerBreathe highlighted to me, was how shallow my regular breathing was.  I had never noticed before how short and shallow my breaths were, this is obviously not good when using the PB device as you need a nice long, slow exhale when using it.

I’ve been sticking to the 30 breaths, twice a day and I have to admit that the change in just my breathing habit has been immense, seriously pleased with the results so far and can see why top athletes use it to increase their physical capabilities.

I have managed to get to level 1 so far, which I don’t think is too bad for a week of training.  I’m expecting the next step up to be a way off though but we’ll see!

So, I’ve got to keep looking forward and keep moving through the levels!  I have level 2 in my sights!

Steven Barlow – 2012 World Coal Carrying Championships

Steven BarlowHello, my name is Steven Barlow and here is my blog about my experience of participating in the 49Th The World Coal Carrying Championships in Gawthorpe West Yorkshire. This is just a brief snippet of the blog but you cna read my blow by blow account on my website.

Preparation for the race started some weeks back and as is with these things did not get off to the best of starts. With a large part of 2011 being spent involved with a lot of rehabilitation work my foundation training was not at its best. To add insult to injury three weeks prior to competing in my first half marathon I pulled up with issues around the back of my knee which meant next to no training done before the half marathon and then over a week to recover from the excessive soreness before coal sack training could commence far later than I’d intended.

For this years event we completely revamped my training with a “boom or bust” approach. If it worked I would reach the two goals I’d set after last years race. If it didn’t I would either loose time or not complete the course at all. The pressure weighed heavily. What was in my favour this year compared tot he previous two years was the number of races I’d managed to get in in 2011 which helped dramatically improve my cardiovascular fitness and awareness of how far I could push myself. A great confidence booster.

Another product I started to experiment with this year was Xendurance a magnesium based supplement which helps on a number of fronts. Nothing worse than your legs over pumping with blood and throwing your whole mechanics out when your trying to squeeze the last bits out of a set. Bad mechanics equal bad habits and injury. Looking forward to using this supplement throughout the rest of year and pushing the makers claims to its limits. I’m in a unique position of doing numerous races at very different intensities and distances so this will help to put the cat amongst the pigeons as they say and give  me very detailed feedback on its effectiveness especially in the shorter sprint events as a lot of people that I see using this product seem to be more involved with the longer distance events of marathons, triathlons and Ironman events. So with the rest of my race season fixed around doing a number of events in the UK Spartan Race calendar it’ll be a great test of the product.

The final addition I’d like to introduce readers to is the POWERbreathe Inspiratory muscle trainer a training device that has a number of uses. For me personally I’m a lousy breather when I run always sucking in air from the chest upwards. The POWERbreathe helps you to training and strengthen the muscles we use to breath which help not only with training but you will find that in everyday life the better your breathing the more overall energy and vigor you have. A very worthwhile training tool and one I found of benefit in this years coal race because I could feel my breathing was a lot deeper and I wasn’t constantly hyperventilating because of bad breathing mechanics. Again this device will be at the cornerstone of my training for my Spartan races because of the way the body is tested not only over various distances but by the simple fact that your body is twisted and turned in all manner of ways which make breathing very difficult.

Right back to the nitty gritty of the day. Talk about nerves. The plan was to have an early breakfast and follow that up with a carbohydrate and protein shake to sip on as need be. Not a chance. Never experienced stomach butterflies like I did all the way to the starting line. There was no way anything was going down because I knew it would be coming straight back up. I was scheduled to run in the first of the men’s races so had plenty of time to pick up my race t-shirt, number and try to settle down a little as we watched the kids races unfold.

The coal truck pulled up and we went and collected our coal sacks off the back. Oh boy this got worse then. The sack was too heavy on one side and the coal had collected into one solid mass. No amount of jumping up and down like a lunatic would break it up. And to top it off there was no give in the sacks themselves. They were brand new which left the edges quite sharp and made gripping very difficult. There was no way the sack was going to sit anywhere near on my shoulders like the sack I’d used for training. Misery set in even further.

Ready, steady GO!!!!! and we were off. Surprise surprise I set off faster than I expected, the cloud of doom and gloom started to lift as I realised I wasn’t seeing a sea of feet surge past me. 50 meters in and I was still there. 100 meters in and shock, horror I was hanging onto third place. Wonders would never cease.

Whether you finished in first or last you can hold your head high knowing you’ve been through hell and back doing quite possibly the hardest, shortest distance race this country has to offer all in the name of tradition and having a right good laugh whilst your at it because lets face it its not fun but its a dam good laugh afterwards.

Here is a video of my performance.  I come into view around the 40 second mark wearing the black running compression tights.



Dean Ball – Week 1: Lets get the show started

Let’s set the record straight from the beginning, I’m no athlete, I’m a ‘wanabe’ one but no professional!

So, a little bit about Dean. Two years or so ago I decided that I was way over weight, I’m 5ft 9’ and was topping the scales at just over 17 stone.  I had developed terrible indigestion and never really suffering from this before I saw the doctor, to which he informed me that my body couldn’t digest or cope with the fact that I was eating, hence the uncomfortable acid issue!

Cutting a long story short, with a complete diet change, regular exercise, determination and great willpower I shed 4 stones. The feeling of dropping this weight, both physical and psychological was immense!  However, since losing this weight I’ve probably put on about a stone over the past year and I’m no way as fit as I was when I lost the 4 stones, so, I’ve decided to change this and get back into shape.

I’m an avid walker, I love it. It’s probably my favorite way of exercising.  You get out in the fresh air, see some great sights, no air-con filtered gyms for me! 🙂  One thing I’ve never overcome, even was I was semi-fit, was the feeling of being out of breath, I suppose I just put this down to the way that I’m made.

This time around I’ve dDean Ballecided to take an interest more in the ‘technical’ side and nutritional side of getting fit, a behind the scenes kind of thing.  After looking at and taking the steps at securing the correct nutrition balance I decided to look at things that could enhance my fitness levels aside from regular exercise.  This is where the PowerBreathe comes in.

PowerBreathe was brought to my attention by GB Deaf Footballer Claire Stancliffe, via Twitter.  So, I ordered one – PowerBreathe Plus in a lovely blue colour.

After consulting the instructions, it was time to commence.  Deep breath. Nose clipped. Exhale. Inhale. Wow! I didn’t know my lungs were in this bad of shape! First breath was an experience, second one the same, etc. My first session over and I’ve got to admit, I could only manage 10 breathes, hard was not the word, now I know this is going to be a challenge.

I love a challenge, I can’t wait for my first week to be complete, I know I will make progress and I’m 100% sure my PowerBreathe will be a success for my personal fitness.

I will update after my 1st week..! 🙂


Respiratory training with the POWERbreathe

Anthony MayattHello, my name is Anthony Mayatt and I am a personal trainer  and owner of  BreatheFitness. I was approached by POWERbreathe who asked me if I would be interested in trialling one of their POWERbreathe devices for a period of one month to see if my respiratory strength, stamina and endurance improves.  The model given to me was the POWERbreathe Plus Medium Resistance.

As part of my trial I have agreed to provide blogs of my training so all of the POWERbreathe followers are able to read about my experience using the POWERbreathe. This is my first blog.

As a personal trainer I am (or would like to think I am) extremely fit and most of you reading are probably thinking why I need to use a breathing trainer. This breathing trainer is used by many elite athletes as well as people who suffer from respiraratoy conditions so I thought I would give it a go. When I was initially tested it was the K5 model that was used and my breathing strength was recorded as 138.

So, the challenge begins, will I see improvement after one month or will my breathing strength be the same. Hopefully it will have improved. I am looking forward to using the POWERbreathe on a daily basis and reporting back my results.

Check back next week for the next installment of my blog.  I decided I would try and video some of my blogs so here is the first video, I hope you find it interesting and please leave a comment below. Read the full respiratory training with POWERbreathe and let me know your thoughts.




Check out Anthony’s other video: Two different push-up exercises using POWERbreathe

POWERbreathe meets with Roxon Med Tech in Canada

Roxon logoRecently the POWERbreathe team headed off to Canada for a training session with our newest distributor Roxon Med Tech.

Roxon were founded in 1975 and are a 100% Canadian owned corporation that is totally committed to supplying specialised equipment to medical facilities across America with their main focus being Cardiac, Respiratory and Neurology equipment.

Both Harry our MD and Jon headed off to Canada to train Roxon.

We have uploaded some pictures of our visit and they can be seen over on the POWERbreathe Official Facebook page. Although, it was mightly cold in Canada our guys and the team at Roxon seemed to have enjoyed the training session.