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.”

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.

Can You Have Asthma And Still Be An Elite Athlete?

This review published in the European Respiratory Society’s June issue of Breathe aims to inform respiratory physicians of the relevant components of the World Anti-Doping Code and to indicate some of the pitfalls that can arise and how to negotiate them so as not to cause problems for their athlete patients with asthma. People with asthma have generally been advised to undertake some form of physical activity to improve their health and fitness and although many asthma patients experience exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), some have gone on to achieve great sporting success and become world and Olympic champions. In fact asthma and asthma/airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) are the most common medical conditions encountered among summer and winter Olympic athletes, affecting between 7%-8% of them. The prevalence of asthma/AHR is principally identified in sports that require endurance training, including triathlon (25.7% of athletes at the Beijing 2008 games), cycling (17.3% at the Beijing 2008 games), cross country skiing (16.9% at the Torino 2006 games) and speed skating (14.9% at the Torino 2006 games). Swimmers had one of the highest prevalence of inhaled β2-agonist (IBA) use at the five Summer Olympic Games from 1996 to 2008. The review therefore suggests that it seems a reasonable proposition that asthma/AHR may be an occupational hazard for many endurance trained athletes and “we should be devoting more attention endeavouring to prevent or reduce this outcome.” POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) offers athletes with asthma a drug-free, clinically-proven method of reducing their symptoms and putting them in control of their asthma. In this research published in Chest, Inspiratory muscle training in patients with bronchial asthma, long-term inspiratory muscle training was shown to reduce absence from school/work (by ~95%); reduce use of healthcare resources (by ~75%); and reduce the consumption of medication (by ~79%). In addition to helping athletes reduce their asthma symptoms, POWERbreathe IMT has been shown to improve sports performance by increasing breathing strength and stamina and reducing whole body effort and fatigue.

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TUEs, asthma and athletes

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) allow an athlete to take medication on WADA’s Prohibited List when competing.

TUEs in the news

TUEs have become a hot topic as a result of the cyber attack leaking WADA data on 29 athletes. It was just after the Rio Olympics. Selected athletes’ medical records are being hacked into by a group from Russia calling themselves Fancy Bears. They were hacking into the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (Adams) database. This stores athletes laboratory results, anti-doping rule violations and therapeutic use exemption (TUE) authorisations.

What’s the big deal about TUEs

It is this data hacking into TUEs that is opening our eyes to the number of elite athletes being given permission to use them. It is raising doubt about their use in ‘fair’ competition. People are asking if they are really needed, and if not, are they providing athletes with a performance edge? In fact Dr Ross Tucker refers to the prevalence of corticosteroid use. Athletes will be given this if they experience breathing problems. It is however also considered to be performance-enhancing.

Breathing is an issue in many athletes

The most common breathing condition among elite athletes in endurance sports is asthma. In fact according to Asthma UK 25% of the 2012 Team GB athletics squad suffer from exercise-induced asthma.

Why do so many elite athletes have exercise-induced asthma?

Vigorous exercise and endurance sports such as long-distance running, cross-country skiing and cycling cause problems for people with exercise-induced asthma. This is because it makes them breathe much faster which in turn affects airflow. Dr John Dickinson says such athletes “have an asthma response to doing high-intensity exercise.” He continues, “It’s not necessarily the exercise that’s the problem, but rather the volume of air that they breathe and the amount of time that they stay at this level for.” Dr John Dickinson is a world renowned expert on asthma in sport and head of the respiratory clinic at Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Science.

TUEs for athletes with asthma

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest-tightness and difficulty in breathing. Because of this inhaled treatment is allowed. This is only allowed however where asthma is documented and dispensation has been granted when needed. By contrast systemic β2-agonist intake is strictly prohibited.

POWERbreathe IMT can help strengthen breathing

Most importantly for athletes with asthma, POWERbreathe IMT is drug-free. It has no side-effects or drug interactions. POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training device. This means it trains the inspiratory muscles only; the muscles used to breathe in. It’s these muscles that work the hardest, your diaphragm and intercostal muscles.

How POWERbreathe IMT works

You simply breathe in through the device. As you breathe in you’ll feel a resistance to your in-breath. This is the resistance working. As you breathe in against the resistance you are exercising your breathing muscles. Exercising your breathing muscles in this way makes them stronger. It strengthens your breathing muscles just like resistance training strengthens your other muscles. And the more you train the stronger your breathing muscles become. Then you can simply increase the resistance, just as you would in other training, so that you continue to improve.

Scientifically proven training

POWERbreathe IMT is the breathing training device that both sports scientists and medical professionals are using in tests. And it is sports scientists who found the most effective training protocol. Their findings showed that just 30 breaths twice a day is the most effective. They were also to discover that just as other muscles experience the ‘use it or lose it’ phenomenon, so do the breathing muscles.

The benefits of POWERbreathe IMT

POWERbreathe IMT will strengthen your breathing muscles, improve breathing stamina and reduce breathing fatigue. And it will improve sports performance and time trial performance. In fact, POWERbreathe IMT is the device of choice in many scientific studies into its benefits for sports and fitness.

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Efficient respiratory system is key for endurance

Dr. Anthony Alessi, Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of Connecticut, recently wrote in an article in The Norwich Bulletin about how an efficient respiratory system is crucial for the success of endurance athletes.

He explains how endurance athletes are most vulnerable to any alterations in the respiratory system “due to their reliance in efficient air exchange over prolonged periods of time.” The high-intensity training these athletes have to endure pushes their respiratory system to its limits which can result in respiratory conditions such as exercise-induced asthma.

“A series of breathing tests are necessary to differentiate these conditions and plan a course of treatment,” says Dr. Matt Hall, a sports medicine specialist who works with athletes at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Alessi summarises his article by saying, “Asthma and other respiratory conditions can be the result of intense exercise but should not be an obstacle to competing, even at the highest levels.”

One type of training that would benefit these endurance athletes and help strengthen their respiratory system for the rigours of their training, is POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) which uses the principles of resistance training to improve the strength of the breathing muscles and increase their stamina. And because POWERbreathe is drug-free, if an athlete does find they need to take medication for say, asthma, then they can safely continue to train their breathing muscles using POWERbreathe as it will have no interactions. Stronger breathing muscles mean more resistance to fatigue and therefore more endurance – a win-win for endurance athletes.

So with POWERbreathe, endurance athletes can help make their respiratory system more resilient by improving the strength and endurance of their breathing muscles, also making their respiratory system more efficient and resilient.

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POWERbreathe at Triathlon Show 2015

The UK’s largest Triathlon Show took place 12th – 15th February 2015 at Excel, London and received over 50,000 visitors.

There were over 300 brands and stands, all with the focus on improving performance in the world of swimming, cycling and running, helping triathletes prepare for their next triathlon.

POWERbreathe was there and we talked to may triathletes about how POWERbreathe IMT can help them overcome breathing effort, when their lungs are subjected to huge demands in each of the three disciplines.

We also met a young gentleman named Ryan Steer who was interested in POWERbreathe for his friend Lee Cairns who’s currently training for a trip to Everest Base camp which he’s reaching on a hand cycle. We were very pleased to be able to help Ryan select the most appropriate model for his friend, and we’d like to send Lee best wishes for his challenge.

We’ve also since heard from another visitor to the show, Alan Newman, who popped over to our stand and, as he put it, put his lungs through their paces! Alan left a comment on our Facebook page saying he was excited to be starting his POWERbreathe training tonight. We’re excited too and hope Alan will come back to us and share his news.


POWERbreathe for Triathletes at Brownlee Tri North 2014

We’re very excited as we prepare for the Brownlee Tri North taking place on Sunday 21st September.

POWERbreathe will be at Harewood House near Leeds where the Tour de France raced earlier this year. The event is for every level of triathlete, from first-timers to seasoned triathletes, but whatever your level, POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) offers you the chance to improve your Personal Best.

As a triathlete you’ll know that training is your best path to victory, but if you’re neglecting to train one area of your system that’s essential to help you along that path, your respiratory system, then your breathing could just let you down. It’s one area of training that’s often not thought about, yet breathing strength is as important as physical strength.

POWERbreathe provides a shortcut to training your inspiratory muscles as it directly targets the muscles used to inhale, primarily the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, and can provide a drug-free performance boost to your swimming performance, cycling performance and running performance.

Training your breathing muscles for triathlon is beneficial for several reasons:

Firstly, during your swim, your breathing is challenged right from the start, as you need to inhale as much oxygen as possible in the shortest possible time in order to return you to the optimal position for generating propulsive force.

Secondly, the very nature of the hunched position you adopt for the best aerodynamics during the cycling stage compresses the contents of your abdomen up against your diaphragm, restricting your breathing.

It may also surprise you to know that studies have suggested that these respiratory impairments brought on during the cycling stage carry over into your run, impairing your performance.

And thirdly, during the running stage your breathing is already pushed to its limits yet it has to sustain you through this final stage, but your breathing muscles are having to undertake additional work, stabilizing you with every foot strike as you run. It’s no wonder you start to feel fatigued.

Research shows that this fatigue occurring in your inspiratory muscles results not only in uncomfortable intense breathlessness, but it can also be responsible for diverting blood away from your other working muscles (arms and legs), impairing their performance. However when you use POWERbreathe and subject your inspiratory muscles to an appropriate training resistance, they will adapt, increasing their strength, power and stamina.

Read more about why you should consider including POWERbreathe IMT as part of your triathlon training, or if you’re already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter. You can also read more about using POWERbreathe in triathlon training on our Blog.

POWERbreathe at the Bosworth Triathlon

Earlier in the year Duncan received a very kind invitation from On Your Marks Events to attend the Bosworth Triathlon on Sunday 2nd June. It’ll come as no surprise to those of you who’ve met our keen runner and POWERbreathe user Duncan to know that he accepted, and on Sunday he attended the Open Water Sprint where he could share the benefit of POWERbreathe breathing training with novice, sprint and standard distance triathletes.

At the event Duncan met up with POWERbreathe dealer and triathlon specialists from Northampton, Tri-Running, and Managing Director Gabrielle Deere was delighted to work closely with Duncan as he extolled the virtues of training the breathing muscles for improved strength and stamina during all disciplines of the triathlon. In fact, so pleased was she that Duncan received further invitations to join her at future big triathlon events! Will we ever see him in the office I’m beginning to wonder?

The swim took place in the boating lake; the 20km/40km cycle was a fast route on quiet roads; and the final run section circled the lake. Duncan managed to set up his POWERbreathe flags and banners at the Finish mark and as people entered the lake, which you’ll be able to see in the Facebook Photo Album.

Duncan took the faithful POWERbreathe K5 and his laptop to the event so that interested triathletes could see their own breathing strength, breath by breath, live on screen using the K5’s Breathe-Link software (which is now available for MAC and free to download from the POWERbreathe website). Incredibly, one visitor’s Volume (the average amount of air inhaled per breath) reached 7 Litres! This was a first and has never been registered by Duncan – or any of us – at any sports event before! Although in awe of the gentleman, Duncan managed to ask him a few questions and discovered he was a top swimmer and is swimming at the British Masters in 2-weeks’ time. The British Masters is the highlight of the national masters calendar and showcases world class competition.

POWERbreathe proved to be a big draw, and although winning the female age group, one of the winning female triathletes felt she could improve her performance still further, after seeing her breathing performance on screen using the K5 Breathe-Link software.

Read more about why you should include POWERbreathe IMT as part of your triathlon training, or if you’re already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear about how you’ve benefited from this breathing training. You can also read more about using POWERbreathe in triathlon training on our Blog.

Czech triathlete “breathes a litre more” after training with POWERbreathe

More great news from our POWERbreathe friends in the Czech Republic, TruconneXion.

Last week, on the biggest Czech triathlon website www.etriatlon.cz, young amateur triathlete, Lukáš Netík’s wrote about his positive experience of POWERbreathe training.

Lukáš started POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training in 2011 on his Level 2 Medium Resistance (MR) model. With regular training he gradually increased the resistance load as his breathing muscles became stronger, but he soon got used to this increase in strength.

“I admit that although I trained according to the instructions, it was usually only once a day. Sometimes I missed completely and if I had a cold I put it aside for a few days. Yet regardless of this, results came relatively quickly and after a few weeks I got to the fifth level on the ten scale. Even breathing during exercise was suddenly easier. During swimming I no longer have to breathe so often, but to me the biggest PLUS I can see is when I’m in the cycling position and my diaphragm is compressed, with hands on the handlebars. And I also use if before a race as it’s great for warming-up,” Lukáš reported.

Every year Lukáš tests his VO2MAX on an ergometer, and he compared results from 2011 and 2012, to see if there were any changes to his breathing capacity and strength. Both results showed that Lukáš’s performance went up. In a 2012 test he reached the same power output with a lower heart rate (179 vs. 184 bpm), lower breathing frequency (34 vs. 40 breaths/minute) and a higher breathing volume (5,7 vs. 4,8 litres). Also his sports doctor commented on the positive change in his breathing.

Lukáš was pleasantly surprised with his improvements and said,

“I think that investing in POWERbreathe really paid off and I can only recommend it. I think Season 2012 went very well.” He qualified at the World Championships, took 2nd place in the European Cup Xterra and 11th place at the World Championships in the category up to 24 years.

Praising Lukáš , MD. Vladimir Vondruška , sports doctor from the University Hospital in Hradec Králové, commented on the annual increase of Lukáš’ ventilation parameters,

“We discussed using POWERbreathe with Lukáš in the autumn of 2011. After a year I was pleasantly surprised by the positive effects I saw in Lukáš – the obvious strengthening of his respiratory muscles (diaphragm), including intercostals. His breathing volume increased by about 1 litre, capitalizing on the part of his residual lung volume. After using POWERbreathe we could see a noticeable change in the efficiency of his lungs, which helps to improve his overall performance. ”

This has been translated from the original, which can be found on the www.etriatlon.cz website.

Read more about why it’s beneficial to use POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training to improve swimming performance, improve cycling performance, and improve running performance for triathlon. And if you’re already using POWERbreathe as part of your triathlon training, then please leave a comment here as we’d love to hear of your experience.

World Ironman 70.3 Championships 2012 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Here is an excellent blog from one of our bloggers Melissa Brand. Beat your Best winner 2011, Melissa Brand has just finished the Marine Corps Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Las Vegas, Henderson Nevada, in just under a week. Melissa earned the right to participate in the championship when qualifying at an Ironman 70.3 event this year. Read this amazing blog to read all about it. Some great pictures too.

September 9th seemed to come around much sooner than expected.  My preparation for the event commenced way back in autumn 2011, when I started a comprehensive strength and conditioning programme.  The most important element of this was to improve the function and strength of my glutes and hamstrings which I had come to realise that I had not been fully utilising.  With this base of strength I was then able to layer the other training on top.

Since last year I have focused predominantly on my running and cycling.  For the same amount of training time I knew I could make up a lot more time on the run/cycle elements of the race than on the swimming.  Through the winter I raced some cyclocross, ran cross country and maintained my swimming.

The early part of the race season I suffered a few setbacks with illness but managed to get a few 70.3 distance (half ironman) races under my belt.  I was fortunate enough to spend nine days in Mallorca pre-Las Vegas.  This was key as part of my heat acclimatisation; it is never consistently hot in the UK and therefore it is hard to acclimatise without going abroad or using a heat chamber.







I arrived in Las Vegas eight days before the race.  This allowed me the maximum time available for heat acclimatisation, adjustment for the time difference and a chance to recover from the long flight.  I used the time to recce the swim, bike and run courses, but also to enjoy time for rest and recovery pre-race.  In the usual way, I have to try and balance these things whilst working full time.







Race day dawned and I was up at 3 :15 am to drive to the race venue.  I prepared my bike in transition and then waited nervously for the swim start. The swim element of the course takes place in Lake Las Vegas and comprises a 1.9 km loop.  It is a stunning setting.  The water was warm which meant that it was a non-wetsuit swim.  This is a disadvantage for the weaker swimmers who are usually aided by the buoyancy of wearing a wetsuit.  The swim started in waves according to sex and age and my wave went off at 07:10 am.  Once started my nerves disappeared and I got on with racing!

My goggles got knocked off pretty much immediately in the frantic race start, I managed to recover them and replace them on my face only to then get kicked in the nose.  These might sound like worrying things but they are scenarios that you need to be mentally prepared for before entering the water.eant that it was a non-wetsuit swim.  This is a disadvantage for the weaker swimmers who are usually aided by the buoyancy of wearing a wetsuit.  The swim started in waves according to sex and age and my wave went off at 07:10 am.  Once started my nerves disappeared and I got on with racing!









Out of the water and out onto the bike course I was in my element.  I focused on overtaking everyone I could see, male or female.  I worked the hills thinking that if I could work hard up them I would get a rest downhill on the other side.  I made up a lot of time on the bike after my disappointing swim. The bike course takes you out of Lake Las Vegas resort and into the unforgiving desert.  Far from what I have always imagined, deserts are not always flat!  The bike course is hot, arid and hilly. The route took us out into the desert and back along the same route, finishing in Henderson.







Starting out on the run my legs felt great.  One thing people often find when they start out in triathlon is that their legs feel like jelly after cycling hard.  I felt fresh and strong.  Unfortunately though the mercury was rising, and as the day progressed it got hotter and hotter.   I really began to suffer after about 8/9 km.  The gaps between some aid stations were relatively long and I was becoming dehydrated.  I had been sick on the bike but wasn’t going to let that stop me, but it did mean that I stopped taking in any gels and energy drinks in fear of upsetting my stomach further.  I know that this was likely heat and stress induced as my nutrition was all practised in advance but the heat and race intensity can play havoc with your digestive capabilities.  I took on as much cola as I could, for the energy and also because it can help settle your stomach.  I also drank plain water.  At every aid station I poured water (sometimes not cold unfortunately) and ice (where available) over my head. This worked to an extent to keep my core temperature down.  Everyone suffered in the heat and it meant that my run time was unfortunately slower than I had hoped.









Overall my time was just a little slower than last year but the conditions were definitely more demanding this year and the run course included one extra hill on each lap.  So overall I placed better than last year as everyone’s times were comparatively slower.

I placed 21st in my category, which is less than I believe I am capable of, but it is a step in the right direction. I will be back for more!

A massive thank you to Team Timex and the team’s sponsors for their support pre-race and on course, also many thanks to Maxifuel for their support throughout the year.

We would like thank Melissa for providing this great blog and photos and would also like to congratulate her on her amazing achievement.

If you want to keep uo to date with Melissa follow her on Twitter. Please feel free to leave a comment below 🙂