Hypoxic Endurance Exercise Performance benefits from IMT

This new study (2019) looks into whether chronic IMT improves hypoxic endurance exercise performance.

Endurance exercise performance

The study, in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, is using a cycling time trial to measure endurance exercise performance. Endurance exercise is typically performed at submaximal intensity. The purpose of this is to estimate VO2max, or ‘aerobic fitness’. The measurement VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person will consume during intense exercise. In fact, cycling time trials offer the ideal exercise to increase both heart rate and breathing. Similarly, so do running and swimming.

What is IMT?

IMT is a form of resistance training for the breathing muscles. The term IMT stands for inspiratory muscle training. The inspiratory muscles, the breathing muscles, are the ones that draw air into the lungs. The main inspiratory muscle is the diaphragm. Like any other group of muscles, the inspiratory muscles benefit from training too. Inspiratory muscle training, such as with POWERbreathe, provides the stimulus for that training. Following IMT, the breathing muscles adapt and become stronger after only a few weeks. This results in exercise feeling easier and an improvement therefore in performance.

Why IMT?

Although breathing comes naturally, some of the time it can feel like an effort. This may be due to the demand endurance exercise places on breathing. It may be due to a respiratory issue. Either way, it’s not uncommon for the respiratory muscles to fatigue, just like any other muscle.

If the respiratory muscles are weak from disease or exercise is overloading them, breathing demand will not be met. As a result, breathing will start to feel shallow and rapid. Sustaining this type of breathing is impossible. Furthermore, the more rapid the breathing, the more oxygen they require and the more carbon dioxide they produce. Consequently, oxygen is re-directed from the skeletal muscles, such as arms or legs, to the breathing muscles, where it is most needed. This results in fatigue of the skeletal muscles.

Inspiratory muscle training helps the body meet the needs of both the respiratory muscles and the skeletal muscles by improving their strength and stamina. The way IMT achieves this is by providing a resistance to breathe in against. POWERbreathe IMT is just like a ‘dumbbell for your diaphragm’.

Study results

Data from this recent study suggest that,

“performing 6 weeks of inspiratory muscle training may benefit hypoxic endurance exercise performance lasting 30-40 minutes.”

Carnival Queen Breathes Energy into Marathon Performance

Latin Grammy Award-winning Brazilian Axé, Ivete Sangalo, has just undertaken a Carnival Marathon. And to prepare for it she has been using POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). This exercises her breathing muscles. As a result Ivete improves her breathing strength and stamina. And with these improvements Ivete is able to sing with energy throughout the whole carnival marathon.

Ivete Sangalo Headlines the Carnival in Brazil

As usual this singer, songwriter, actress and TV Host wows the audience at every procession. She also manages to do this on every float she performs from. For Ivete is one of the most popular and best-selling Brazilian female singers. In fact she is most often recognized by her powerful voice, charisma and live performances. And her performances are always full of life and energy.

Ivete Sangalo’s Marathon Performance

Ivete’s performance tells her life story in song. She begins by singing about her childhood in Juazeiro. She then performs songs that tell of her career path, finishing with her becoming a star.

The whole event will require her to be emotionally fit. And she will also need to be physically fit too. Therefore Ivete attends regular gym sessions. But she also disciplines herself to train her breathing muscles with her POWERbreathe IMT.

POWERbreathe IMT helps Ivete through her Performance

As a singer Ivete needs to be able to control her breath to ensure she doesn’t run out of breath while performing. And she does this by connecting with and using her diaphragm.

So Ivete’s diaphragm needs to be strong to help her control her breathing. But also her breathing muscles need to have the stamina to power her through her performance. This will help her to perform at her best. And this is why she has chosen to incorporate POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) into her daily training.

Inspiratory Muscle Training Benefits

  • Increases the ability to inflate the lungs (take deeper breaths)
  • Improves the ability to control the breath
  • Enhances the ability to sustain forceful breathing (breathing does not become fatigued)
  • Training may affect the intrinsic laryngeal muscles which control the action of the larynx

Finally, POWERbreathe IMT as a component of vocal exercises will help make full use of the lungs, and how you inhale affects how well you exhale. And how well you exhale influences your performance.

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.

Running improves with breathing control

This article in Women’s Running discusses ways of improving breathing control while running. Better breathing will help you run better and improve your performance.

Control your breathing to improve your running

Your breathing may feel laboured while running. However if you breathe correctly you will find running becomes easier. The article refers to four ways that will help.

Loosen up and check your posture

It suggests that the way you hold yourself could interfere with your breathing. Perhaps you are stiffening your rib cage as you run. If so, this will affect the way you breathe. You need to ‘free your rib cage’. Sean Carey, world-renowned practitioner in the Alexander Technique explains how to do this in the article.

Synchronise your breathing with your running

This is what Professor Alison McConnell suggests to make your breathing more comfortable while running. To achieve this start to inhale as your right foot strikes the ground. Continue to inhale as your left foot strikes. You should then start to exhale as your right foot strikes the ground for the second time.

Get in touch with your diaphragm

Another idea that is proposed is to ‘discover your diaphragm’ once again. As you get older, as a result of stress and poor posture, you start to develop poor breathing habits. This includes breathing from your chest. You should be breathing from your diaphragm, your main breathing muscle. Like any other muscle your diaphragm can suffer fatigue. This will result in laboured and uncomfortable breathing. It can also lead to intense breathlessness. Research has shown that exhausted breathing muscles will divert blood away from your legs, to help keep you breathing. This will result in the supply of oxygen to your legs being reduced. As a result your running performance will be impaired.

How POWERbreathe can help

POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training specifically targets your breathing muscles. It exercises them. You breathe in through the device against a ‘load’, or resistance. It’s this resistance that exercises your breathing muscles to become stronger. Stronger breathing muscles means more breathing stamina too and reduced fatigue. This in turn will improve your performance. You’ll be able to run for longer and with less effort.

Practice deep breathing

The final tip offered by Women’s Running is to practise pranayama, yogic breathing. But POWERbreathe IMT can also help you here. By using POWERbreathe IMT you are training yourself to take deep breaths. This will help you breathe to your full capacity. The article finishes by offering some good advice. That is to think about breathing from your diaphragm and deep breathing as you walk. As you become more confident and it becomes more natural, you can introduce it while running.

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Running performance improves with deeper breathing

An article in the October 2016 edition of Runner’s World UK says you can boost your running performance with each breath you take. But you have to choose the right type of training. And that is training that gets oxygen to where you need it.

Improving running performance starts with your breathing

Breathing training will help you with this. It helps you to get oxygen into your legs and will help avoid breathlessness from the start. In fact Dr John Dickinson recommends you pay attention to your breathing before you even start running. Dr Dickinson is Head of the Respiratory Clinic at the University of Kent.

Warm-up your breathing muscles

A research study(1) has found that a standard pre-exercise warm-up routine will fail to prepare the breathing muscles for the rigours of exercise. And not warming up the breathing muscles will lead to excessive breathlessness as you start running.

Improve the muscles that inflate your lungs

Strengthening your inspiratory muscles is something that is suggested in the article. Because it is not possible to train the lungs or grow more alveoli (where gas exchange takes place), this is the one thing you can do. By training the inspiratory muscles you’ll be able to get more air into your lungs.

POWERbreathe IMT recommended in article

One of the author’s of the article suggests practising more efficient diaphragmatic breathing through inspiratory muscle training. It mentions ‘the popular’ POWERbreathe. POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device. The article goes on to say how in studies POWERbreathe improved inspiratory muscle strength by 31% and inspiratory muscle endurance by 27%. It also states how POWERbreathe also improved recovery during repeated sprints by 7%.

How breathing better improves running performance

Research and trials(2,3) suggest that during heavy exercise, blood flow (and therefore oxygen delivery) to your exercising muscles is inversely related to respiratory work. This means that your inspiratory muscles are capable of stealing blood from your other working muscles. This in turn will impair your performance. Other research on inspiratory muscle training (IMT) and exercise performance reveals a reduction in whole body effort sensation. This means that after 4-weeks of IMT, people didn’t feel they were exercising as hard and were therefore able to push themselves that bit further. Because of this they were increasing their training intensity and ultimately their performance.

POWERbreathe IMT improves running performance

When you use POWERbreathe IMT to subject your inspiratory muscles, mainly your diaphragm and intercostals to an appropriate training resistance, they will adapt. They will increase in strength, power and stamina. And although running will strengthen your diaphragm to a degree, “you don’t get the results you get with inspiratory training”, says Dr Graham Sharpe. ‘The most accessible method is a device such as POWERbreathe’, the article says. Dr Graham Sharpe is Principal Lecturer at the School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University.


1 Specific respiratory warm-up improves rowing performance and exertional dyspnoea

2 The influence of inspiratory muscle work history and specific inspiratory muscle training upon human limb muscle fatigue

3 Effect of inspiratory muscle work on peripheral fatigue of locomotor muscles in healthy humans

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Track running induces inspiratory muscle fatigue in trained runners

A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (September 26th 2015) tested the hypothesis that short-duration running exercise would induce Inspiratory Muscle Fatigue (IMF) which may limit performance. This follows studies that found IMF occurs after short-duration swimming exercise.

Eight female middle-distance runners were the subjects of this study which found that IMF does occur after short-duration running exercise.


“Coaches could consider prescribing inspiratory muscle training or warm-up in an effort to reduce the inevitable IMF associated with maximal effort running.”


400-meter and 800-meter track running induces inspiratory muscle fatigue in trained female middle-distance runners.

Use POWERbreathe To Help Alleviate Side Stitch

A recent article in Triathlete Europe offered advice on how to avoid side stitch, citing diaphragm spasm as one of the most common causes, with spasm of the accessory muscles of breathing, the obliques, another cause.

Canadian Running also featured an article about side stitch explaining that as you take in air (while running) your diaphragm contracts, allowing your lungs to expand, and this, like any other muscle, can become overloaded during a run, straining it and causing it to spasm.

While there appears to be no definitive consensus on the causes of side stitch, many medical and sports professionals do believe it to be associated with the diaphragm, your main breathing muscle, and surrounding muscles.

An easy way to help prevent your diaphragm from feeling fatigued is to train your inspiratory muscles (mainly your diaphragm and intercostals) with POWERbreathe to become stronger. This will help improve your breathing stamina and enable you to run or swim for longer with less effort.

A pain in the side – why a stitch can turn a sporting demigod into a ‘DNF’ is a really informative article written by Sports Performance Bulletin which looks at strategies for coping with stitch and training techniques for its prevention, including POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training.

Strengthen your thoracic diaphragm to become a better runner

This informative article published in Trail Runner Magazine (the UK’s No.1 off-road running magazine) talks about The Forgotten Muscle, your thoracic diaphragm, and how important learning to use it properly can correlate to increased stamina, quicker recovery and even decreased chance of injury.

It talks about how, as a trail runner, you strengthen your muscles with squats, lunges, plyometrics and core work, but neglect the muscle that’s capable of improving your balance, stability, efficiency and oxygen economy – your thoracic diaphragm.

With improved balance and running efficiency being two of the greatest benefits of proper breathing for trail runners, you can understand why not neglecting this muscle counts.

The article explains how, “When we use our diaphragm to breathe properly, it makes it easier for our blood to pull oxygen out of the air we inhale, which translates into improved running economy and endurance. Of course, as you become fatigued, it’s often necessary to rely on secondary muscles of respiration as well—but, ideally, the diaphragm should be the primary muscle used.”

Read the article The Forgotten Muscle to discover a few ways to help you become a ‘breathing ninja’, however there is one training method that gets directly to the core of improved diaphragm breathing, and that is Inspiratory Muscle Training with POWERbreathe.

POWERbreathe IMT can help overcome two obstacles trail runners face:

1. In the case of breathing, fatigue occurs almost exclusively in the inspiratory muscles and results in laboured, uncomfortable breathing and intense breathlessness. POWERbreathe targets the inspiratory muscles, improving their strength and stamina and reducing fatigue.

2. Fatigue of the leg muscles can also be a result of fatigue of the breathing muscles, because research has shown that fatigue of the breathing muscles may result in diversion of blood away from the leg muscles. This means that the supply of oxygen to the legs is reduced and performance is impaired. POWERbreathe reduces fatigue of the breathing muscles by targeting them directly to improve breathing strength and stamina.

With disciplined POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training you’ll improve breathing comfort too during running because POWERbreathe specifically targets the breathing muscles, strengthening them by around 30-50%, helping to eliminate breathing fatigue and improve running performance.

Improving Breathing by Robin McNelis

PHOTO: Owen Gillott & Luke Williams from Hagens Berman U-23 Cycling Program

This is the final in a series of four articles published by Athletics Weekly and written by Robin McNelis. Robin is a chartered physiotherapist who specialises in cardiac and respiratory physiotherapy at Wellington Hospital in London. He’s also a qualified athletics coach running his own health, fitness and wellbeing consultancy, Run Robin Run.

In this, his fourth article, Robin looks at how to improve your breathing and ultimately your performance, listing nose breathing, nasal rinsing, POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training – and “one for the future”, but you’ll have to read his article to find out what this is.

Read Robin’s first article, Correct Breathing for Athletes >

Read Robin’s second article, Good and Bad Breathing in Athletics >

Read Robin’s third article, Breathing Patterns >

Read Robin’s fourth article, Improving Breathing by Robin McNelis >

Breathing Patterns by Robin McNelis

Robin McNelis is a chartered physiotherapist specialising in cardiac and respiratory physiotherapy at Wellington Hospital in London and a qualified athletics coach running his own health, fitness and wellbeing consultancy, Run Robin Run.

Athletics Weekly have been featuring his series of four articles, all about how to breathe correctly as an athlete, and how a good breathing technique can improve athletic performance.

This is the third article in the series, Breathing Patterns, which looks at how to prevent bad breathing and what triggers it.

Robin goes on to list 3 main categories that may trigger bad breathing:

1. Physical – such as environment, foods, allergens etc
2. Emotional – stress, anxiety and frustration to name but a few
3. Thought Processes – mainly self-diagnosis

Visit Athletics Weekly to read Breathing Patterns by Robin McNelis online.

Athletics Weekly will be publishing Robin’s final article next in which he talks about breathing in exercise, looking at the techniques that can be used to strengthen your breathing and performance, including, among other things, Inspiratory Muscle Training and POWERbreathe!

Read Robin’s first article, Correct Breathing for Athletes >

Read Robin’s second article, Good and Bad Breathing in Athletics >