Athletes Do Not Condition Inspired Air More Effectively than Non-athletes

There is a study that aims to assess athletes’ ability to warm and humidify inspired air. This study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. It is called, Athletes do not condition inspired air more effectively than non-athletes during hyperpnea.

Endurance athletes’ inspired air

Airway disease is more prevalent in endurance athletes. This is possible because they need to adapt their breathing to cope with large volumes of inspired air. And they need to inspire large volumes of air because of the intense exercise they perform. But the environment they train in may also be relevant.

Study method

The study measures the difference between each athlete’s inhaled and exhaled air temperature. It did this during and after a Eucapnic Voluntary Hyperpnea test (EVH). This is the test that is used to diagnose exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasm. It is a 6 minute test during which the athlete breathes a cold, dry gas at very high ventilation rates.

All 23 athletes in the study attend a laboratory on three occasions. Two of these occasions are for baseline measurements and information. The third is to perform a modified EVH test. This is to measure their inspired and expired air temperatures.

No evidence of improved capacity to condition inspired air

The test results show no evidence of improved capacity to condition inspired air. And by ‘conditioned’ air the study means the athlete’s ability to warm and humidify inspired air. If the study did find evidence, this could suggest an increased bronchial blood flow or another adaptive mechanism. Bronchial blood flow supplies nutrients and oxygen to the cells that constitute the lungs, as well as carrying waste products away from them. Therefore the absence of an adaptive mechanism could contribute to airway damage observed in endurance athletes. This may be that colder but mainly dryer air is penetrating deeper in the lung.

Strategies to reduce impact on airway injury

A pre-exercise warm-up is well known to reduce the severity of exercise-induced bronchospasm and exercise-induced asthma. It is thought the reason for this is because of an increase in bronchial blood flow. A warm-up involves performing the athlete’s activity at a slower pace and reduced intensity. It gradually raises the body temperature. Furthermore it increases blood flow to the muscles.

An inspiratory warm-up

It is also beneficial to warm-up the breathing muscles. A scientifically proven way of doing this is with Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). POWERbreathe is an IMT device that is quick and easy to use. POWERbreathe IMT is performed as part of an athlete’s daily training. But research and trials have also shown it to be beneficial for an inspiratory warm-up. This means simply reducing the breathing load on the POWERbreathe IMT device to a lower setting. Better still the POWERbreathe K3, K4 and K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback Software feature an automatic warm-up mode. This automatically sets the optimal resistance for an inspiratory muscle warm-up.

POWERbreathe user John breaks Concept2UK British Record

John Steventon from Glasgow, aka @johntherower shared news of his success at breaking the British 1K indoor rowing record (40-49 lightweight) on May 14th. He’s spent the last 6 months training, including POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training (IMT), and he’s managed to drop 5.1 seconds which he couldn’t be happier about… “Hey guys, I broke a British Record for indoor rowing yesterday (1k lightweight 40-49) and I know a huge part of that was because of my breathing training with a POWERbreathe. So I just wanted to say thanks!!! World Record now in my sights!!!!” exclaimed John. John has clearly been putting in the training for this event, but it’s no surprise to hear POWERbreathe IMT has benefited him too because there have been many scientific trials on the benefits of IMT for indoor rowers. Rowing has a high respiratory demand and so John’s breathing muscles would fatigue early. Science suggests that this high respiratory demand ‘steals’ blood from the legs during rowing which in turn reduces overall rowing performance. In scientific tests POWERbreathe IMT:

  • Improved rowing time trial performance by up to 2.2% which is equivalent to slashing 60m in a 2km race
  • Increased strength of inspiratory muscles by 30 – 50%
  • Significantly improves rowing performance and reduces breathlessness in competitive rowers following a POWERbreathe warm-up

John’s next challenge is to beat the World Record for the 1k and for this he needs to shave another 5.7 seconds off his record. “Roll on November, when I’ll try to break the World Record. In the meantime, I’ll keep scaring the cat with my breathing exercises!” You can read John’s account of his fantastic success here >

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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.

Mike Wrenn – In rowing, any improvement in breathing efficiency would be beneficial

I’ve used the Powerbreathe regularly over the past month or so but only in the evenings.  I found it quite convenient to use late at night but somehow life has been too hectic once I get out of bed.  Following a chat with Eddie Fletcher last Saturday at Cardiff (he emphasised the importance of using it twice a day for the first 30 days), I’ve improved matters a little.  I now take the Powerbreathe to work with me when I do my part-time teaching and fit in using it during a morning coffee break.

It’s difficult to determine whether or not it is proving any benefit, as I was already very fit (10 British age group records set this year) before I started to use it. 

It does make sense to me that in the sport of rowing where the chest is compressed for much of the time any improvement to breathing intake efficiency would be very beneficial.  Being forced to breathe deeply and powerfully for thirty breaths does seem to be a useful exercise.  I’ll continue using the Powerbreathe, and twice a day whenever possible.


Mike Wrenn

Pete Marston – My lungs feel like they’ve had a workout like they do after very hard rowing

Having never used a POWERbreathe before yesterday I really didn’t know what to expect when I took it out of the box and read the instructions. 30 breaths twice a day, once in the morning, once in the evening. That sounds easy. I figure I am best starting on the lowest resistance, and just increase it by the quarter turn each session if I find it too easy.
After using it for the first time yesterday I am surprised how similar it is to using STASS. The Short Term Air Supply System (STASS) is a small emergency air supply bottle carried by military aircrew, mainly in helicopters, so that in the event of a crash landing in water they have time to escape from the aircraft. I have been through the STASS training with the Royal Navy a couple of years ago so that I could fly on military helicopters as a Flight Test Observer. Breathing with the STASS when you’re upside down, underwater and in the dark in a helicopter training rig is difficult when you’re not used to having to breathe under resistance. Sorry for this aside if it is not an interesting comparison, but my first thought was – this could be a good training device for military personnel going through that training if they have any issues or concerns over using the STASS system.
That similarity aside, I was then surprised how hard work it actually is to do 30 breaths with the POWERbreathe. I did not expect to be just about breaking into a sweat after it! My lungs feel like they have had a workout like they do after a very hard piece on the rowing machine, but without the associated sore throat and cough. It will be interesting what the next few weeks will bring.
I keep a careful track of all of my training, and blog about it at – so I will make comment there periodically on the POWERbreathe training too. Most indoor rowers keep detailed training records, and as such it should be fairly easy to track any improvements in performance over the next 3 months, and have a good idea whether part of these are due to this new training stimulus.

Kimberley Naylor-Perrott – Increasing my rowing in readiness for Boston 2012 (Beginnings)

I have been injured for the past week, so in terms of any improvements, they are based on my experiences in the preceding few weeks.
I have to be honest at the outset; I first tried powerbreathe (the red model) some 4 years ago, when I was rowing far more competitively than I am at present. I am mildly asthmatic and my coach believed that it would help both with my lung capacity and rowing.
 Unfortunately I really didn’t get on with the device then – I found it hurt my intercostal muscles when I used it, even on the lowest settings, worse still I usage aggravated my lungs and I believed usage was a contributing factor to triggering chest infections, from which I used to suffer from regularly. Now clearly that could have been due to a number of factors including over training – but suffice it to say I stopped using it.
So it was with some trepidation that I began using my Iron Girl model recently! I have to say, probably because I started as advised on zero – I have had none of the problems I had previously in terms of usage.
Initially I had to break up the 30 breaths into 3 x 10 with a couple of breathers in between and now it is 2x 15. If I do the powerbreathe exercises before I row, I tend to start my warm up, use the power breathe in between and then finish my warm up. I definitely think it helps to open my lungs out and whether or not my rowing session is a good one, I definitely feel it helps in the warm up process – lungs expanded and ready to go – which in turn gives me confidence going into whatever rowing piece I may do next.
In terms of increased performance for me it is too early to say. I am really only just increasing my rowing in readiness for Boston. And in general I have been recently diagnosed as severely anaemic and my thyroid levels have been way out to boot!  (I have been on the same dose for 18 years following a thyroid operation). I have only been put on new supplements in the past week. My hope is that as my energy/training increases with the help of the powerbreathe, I will see massive improvements in my general and rowing specific fitness. Watch this space!

Kimberley Naylor-Perrott

Lewin Hynes – POWERbreathe for endurance events

Lewin wins bronzeThanks to Lewin once again for providing this great training video.

Three quick lessons I have learnt about using the PowerBreathe for endurance events. All about making sure that you are ready  to go on the day, and ensuring that the the PowerBreathe is working for you not vice versa.

Here are some other videos I have made:

Hope you enjoy the videos. If you found the videos I have submitted useful, please leave a comment below:


Lewin Hynes – Better breathing with Powerbreathe Catch Drills on the rowing machine

Lewin Hynes - Better breathing with Powerbreathe Catch Drills on the rowing machineThe catch is the position at the front end of the rowing stroke, with your body curled into a ball.

It is difficult and strenuous to take a full breath in this position for most people, so we are going to train to overcome that weakness by adopting the catch position, either on the rowing machine or using dumbells and performing Powerbreathe inhalations. We perform five inhalations in the catch position before take a full rowing stroke (exhaling on the drive, power-inhaling on the recovery) or performing a dumbell deadlift.

Perform that cycle five times at your full POWERbreathe resistance setting or as close as you can get to give you a classic 30 inhalation set.


Thanks Lewin for this video. We would love to read your comments about this video, please them below.

Powerbreathe Training Videos: Lewin Hynes – POWERbreathe Catch Drills using Dumbells

Lewin Hynes - Powerbreathe Catch Drills
Hi, here is a quick video to demonstrate using the Powerbreathe for rowing specific training. This video demonstrates catch drills.

The catch is the position at the front end of the rowing stroke, with your body curled into a ball. It is difficult and strenuous to take a full breath in this position for most people, so we are going to train to overcome that weakness by adopting the catch position, using dumb bells and performing Powerbreathe inhalations.

We perform five inhalations in the catch position before take a full rowing stroke (exhaling on the drive, power-inhaling on the recovery) or performing a dumb bell deadlift. Perform that cycle five times at your full Powerbreathe resistance setting or as close as you can get to give you a classic 30 inhalation set.

Thanks to Lewin Hynes for submitting this one. If you found this video helpful then please leave a comment below and tell us how you use your POWERbreathe when doing indoor rowing training.

Johan Hoeke – POWERbreathe beginnings

Improves Indoor Rowing PerformanceI’m an indoor rower, and proud member of c2tweetcrew, our virtual indoor rowing team. ( We are a diverse group of enthusiastic indoor rowers that compete in different challenge and competitions.

At the moment, I’m getting ready for the Dutch National Indoor Rowing championship on december 10th. That’s a 2K race, the traditional distance that rowers compete in in the Olympics for example. Not that I’m comparing myself to Olympians 🙂 , I’m just a guy who enjoys the challenge of indoor rowing and improving my personal bests.

I have a following a training programme from concept2, and am keeping track of my results here:

On the concept2 UK site I noticed the POWERbreathe training guide for indoor rowers, That looked great. I have decided to get a POWERbreathe Plus Heavy Resistance model to help me get ready for my race.

First impressions: resistance level 0 is doable, I need the noseclip. Quarter turn is 1/4 to 1/2 resistance level, change is very noticable. Have been able to progress from level 0 to level 1 in two days. YMMV! No muscle soreness.

10 days in, and almost up to level 3.  First few breaths are very hard to get any air in at all, once I do I start counting back from 30, definitely feel the tightness on the chest afterwards, this goes away in 15 min or so.  Aside from progression no noticable impact on rowing yet except added awareness of breathing.  When doing UT1 or UT2 rows I am able to take deep breaths and slow down my HR a little.

Used POWERbreathe whilest rowing the cooldown today.  At level 0, barely made 2 minutes before running out of breath. Is supposed to act like a sponge for lactic acid. Need that tonite, felt my legs after a 10 minute AT piece.

Had to turn down the resistance 1/4 turn during the before-bed 30 breaths set. Tired from the cooldown? Sticking with the slightly lower setting for now.  Focusing on deep breaths. The first couple of breaths are still hard. Once I get going, I can hit 30 without having to really strain. Have to relax neck and throat muscles.

Working on using POWERbreathe without holding it in my hand, because at some stage I want to use it while rowing. Chest felt a little tight afterwards.  Decided to skip the before bed session, did a hard rowing workout tonight and breathing muscles need some rest I think 🙂

Keep checking back for regualr updates from me 🙂