by Lars Hundley
Training your breathing muscles may provide longer-lasting benefits than previously believed, according to new research published in Experimental Physiology. The study revealed that the strength gains from five weeks of inspiratory muscle training, a specialized form of weight training focusing on the muscles used for breathing, persisted for an additional five weeks after the training had ceased.
These stronger breathing muscles can improve blood flow distribution during exercise, allowing cyclists to ride for more extended periods before fatigue and breathlessness set in. Improved breathing muscle function could potentially help individuals manage and slow down the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung conditions including emphysema and bronchitis.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo, Canada, discovered that breathing muscles remained stronger after an equal amount of time without training. This finding indicates that respiratory muscles can be trained similarly to other skeletal muscles.
Paolo Dominelli, a researcher on the study, explained, “Inspiratory muscle training can be beneficial to people with breathing difficulties and can be part of pulmonary rehabilitation. Knowing the time frame before muscle function loss occurs could help inform treatment programs, determining how frequently an individual would need to train and the length of the program.”
The research also demonstrated positive changes to the respiratory muscle metaboreflex, a process that restricts blood flow to the limbs when breathing muscles tire. Inspiratory muscle training reduces the metaboreflex, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, thus improving a person’s endurance during exercise.
Dominelli added, “By showing that the strength of the breathing muscles persisted, along with the retained reductions in the respiratory metaboreflex after five weeks without training, suggests that the training itself may not need to be continuous. We would need to carry out subsequent clinical trials to test the appropriate frequency and length of training required to evaluate how long the health benefits persist.”
For cyclists interested in training and fitness, this research highlights the potential advantages of incorporating inspiratory muscle training into their exercise routine to improve overall endurance and performance. Believe it or not, there are actually many manufacturers making devices to strength train your breathing muscles. So it’s possible to try it out for yourself to see if it works for you.
Sue Stringer says
Using The Breather, a combined inspiratory and expiratory respiratory muscle training device will provide the workout you need for cycling fitness. Contact us at [email protected] or visit our website for information about this amazing inexpensive device. https://columbiasci.com/the-breather/
Thank you for highlighting the benefits to cyclists that training their breathing to become stronger and less fatigued will have on their performance. The electronic POWERbreathe K3 is the Inspiratory Muscle Training device used in this independent research. POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training increased respiratory muscle strength and attenuated the respiratory muscle metaboreflex as evidenced by lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Kerry Irons says
Am I reading between the lines here that the study said your breathing muscles are strengthened but it said nothing about whether that actually translates into improved performance in an endurance sport? Breathing exercises have been around for decades with little to show other than anecdotal reports. And the first two responses here are from people touting breathing exercise products. When someone can cite a large, well-done study showing improved performance from breathing exercises, then I’m all in. Decades of anecdotes doesn’t cut it.
Hi Kerry. I understand your scepticism and you are correct, I am responding in regard to evidence from research papers, clinical trials, original studies and review articles (not anecdotes) that used POWERbreathe devices as the intervention, as this is our area of expertise. I cannot talk about other IMT devices for which I’m not an expert but can refer you to research in which IMT has been used. But this research is all independent and not paid for by POWERbreathe. I can refer you to other papers that show IMT improves performance, although there are so many, so here is only a snapshot of further independent research papers showing that POWERbreathe IMT improves performance:
– Improves 100 and 200 m swimming performance (Andrew Kilding et al) – used POWERbreathe IMT.
– Improved rowing time trial performance by up to 2.2% – equivalent to slashing 60m in a 2km race (Volianitis et al) – using POWERbreathe IMT.
– Enabled participants to cycle for 33% longer and with lower sense of effort (M.P. Caine & McConnell) – used POWERbreathe IMT.
– Significantly improves participants’ 800-m running performance and decreases the limb blood flow change rate (Yun-Chi Chang et al) – used POWERbreathe IMT.
– Is a useful device to stimulate sport performance and increase pulmonary function. (Diego Fernández-Lázaro et al) – using POWERbreathe IMT.