Respiratory Muscle Training in Healthy Humans: Resolving the Controversy

“An overview of the literature that rationalizes contradictory findings about respiratory muscle training in healthy people.”


“It is likely that the ergogenic effect of respiratory muscle training (RMT) has a multifactorial etiology that may include:

  1. The direct effect of RMT upon respiratory muscle fatigue
  2. RMT’s indirect effects upon improving blood flow distribution to limb locomotor muscles in heavy exercise
  3. RMT’s direct and indirect effect upon the intensity with which both respiratory and peripheral efforts are perceived.”

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Effect Of Specific Inspiratory Muscle Warm-Up On intense Intermittent Run To Exhaustion

“In this test the effects of inspiratory muscle warm-up on the maximum dynamic inspiratory muscle function and the maximum repetitions of 20-m shuttle run in the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test were examined.”


“Findings suggested that the specific inspiratory muscle warm-up may entail reduction in breathlessness sensation, partly attributable to the enhancement of dynamic inspiratory muscle functions, in subsequent exhaustive intermittent run and, in turn, improve the exercise tolerance.”

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Inspiratory Resistive Loading After All-Out Exercise Improves Subsequent Performance

Previous studies have shown that post-exercise inspiratory resistive loading reduces blood lactate. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that inspiratory resistive loading during recovery could improve subsequent exercise performance.


“Inspiratory resistive loading during recovery from all-out maximal-intensity exercise decreases blood lactate and perception of leg effort with beneficial effects on peak and mean power on subsequent supra-maximal exercise in healthy males. Our results provide rationale for using post-exercise inspiratory resistive loading as an ergogenic aid and future studies should be conducted to better evaluate the mechanisms responsible for this effect.”

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Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Whole Body Exercise Performance in Males

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on whole body exercise performance time.


“Improvements in whole body exercise performance due to IMT program may be enhanced by preceding the IMT training session with a short bout of intense whole body exercise.”

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IMT Improves Cycling Time-Trial Performance And Anaerobic Work Capacity But Not Critical Power

This study “examined whether inspiratory muscle training (IMT) improved cycling time-trial performance and changed the relationship between limit work and limit time, which is described by the parameters critical power and anaerobic work capacity.”


“These data provide novel evidence that improvements in constant-power and cycling time-trial performance following IMT in cyclists may be explained, in part, by an increase in anaerobic work capacity.”

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IMT Enhances Pulmonary O2 Uptake Kinetics And High-Intensity Exercise Tolerance In Humans

Fatigue of the respiratory muscles during intense exercise might compromise leg blood flow, thereby constraining oxygen uptake ( O2) and limiting exercise tolerance. This study tested the hypothesis that inspiratory muscle training (IMT) would reduce inspiratory muscle fatigue, speed O2 kinetics and enhance exercise tolerance.


“Specific training of the inspiratory muscles increased baseline MIP, reduced estimated inspiratory muscle fatigue during severe and maximal-intensity exercise, and enhanced O2 dynamics and exercise tolerance…

“Pressure-threshold IMT appears to present a practical and efficacious means for modulating the O2 response to high-intensity exercise in healthy young people…”

“IMT therefore appears to have considerable potential as an adjunct to physical training for the enhancement of exercise performance.”

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