How Breathing Improves Your Performance
Breathing is part of life, as it transports the air to those places – the alveoli in your lungs – where the oxygen molecules can be filtered out of the air to be used by the body. When you exercise, the adaptation of the process of breathing has to be in step with your level of exercise. The harder your muscles work, the more oxygen they need. Then, your breathing rate increases to provide higher amounts of oxygen. This works up to a certain point, at which the demand for oxygen overtakes the supply. Typically, this happens at about 70% of your maximum capacity.
Going to the Limit – and Pushing Beyond
At about 70% of maximum capacity, the respiratory system attempts to compensate by hyperventilating, which starts a vicious downward spiral. Not only is hyperventilating unable to deliver sufficient oxygen, breathing has also lost the capacity at this point to remove the carbon dioxide built up from the consumed oxygen. The blood is unable to buffer the increase of lactic acid, and the lactate threshold approaches at lightning speed.
At the same time, it is the breathing muscles that start to fatigue, and to require more oxygen themselves, kicking off a process called the respiratory muscle metaboreflex. At this point, the body has to accept the limitations of resources (aka oxygen) and decide to either keep running or to keep breathing. Fortunately, breathing always wins this argument, and more blood is recruited to the respiratory muscles by vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) in the working muscles.
All of these factors combined signify this point as the limit of exercise. Your body is clearly telling you that it’s up to here and no further.
How can this cycle be broken, or this point at least be delayed? The answer is, by targeting the bottleneck – the respiratory muscles.
Respiratory muscles, first and foremost the diaphragm, are strengthened when you exercise, but in a limited way, much like your legs are exercised as you’re walking. They do their job. However, using respiratory muscle training (RMT) by using Breather Fit works like weight training for the respiratory muscles – they increase in muscle mass and muscle strength. Stronger respiratory muscles fatigue later, require less oxygen, and function more efficiently.
Interestingly, in 60% of athletes, exercise limitation is defined by shortness of breath (dyspnea), rather than by fatigue of the working muscles. That is because respiratory muscles are typically not worked in isolation. Until they are specifically asked to work against a workload (resistance provided by RMT), they will not reach their full potential and remain the limiting factor.
How does the Breather Fit help Athletes perform better?
Using Breather Fit increases the muscle strength of both the inspiratory muscles (diaphragm, external intercostals, etc) as well as the expiratory muscles (internal intercostals, abdominals, etc).
Stronger respiratory muscles can increase the maximum oxygen uptake, delay the muscle metaboreflex and respiratory muscle fatigue.
A meta analysis performed at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, showed that RMT on average increases your performance by 11%. While the margins are of course bigger if the baseline is lower, even Olympic athletes may still see an increase in performance if they have never specifically trained their respiratory muscles before, to push them to even faster, higher, and stronger performances.
Will Breather Fit help every athlete?
In short: Yes. The lower the baseline, the steeper the incline, but almost every athlete will benefit from stronger respiratory muscles, from recreational yoga fans to elite rowers or sprinters.
Breather Fit should become an integral part of routine training for optimal benefits, and be used regularly twice a day, with breaks after strenuous exercise of competition days in order to not fatigue the respiratory muscles.
Strengthening your respiratory muscles with the Breather Fit may be particularly useful during injury or recovery times, when exercise is limited, to optimally prepare for the return to a full training routine without getting out of breath.
Breather Fit been tested and approved by a quickly growing range of top athletes. Have a look at what they have to say!