Breathing trainer devices focus on improving building strength and endurance in your respiratory muscles and creating the brain-body connections that enhance conscious and efficient breathing patterns. By improving the strength and stamina of your respiratory system, you can increase sports performance by achieving better oxygen delivery to your body.
Using a breathing trainer also gives you the opportunity to build conscious connections for proper breathing mechanics and deeper breathing. Proper breathing mechanics are what allow you to use more of your lung capacity and more effective breathing patterns, especially during bouts of intense exercise. Strengthening the muscles involved in diaphragmatic breathing can actually help you use less energy while breathing. For athletes, the advantages are obvious.
In this guide we are going to take a look at breathing trainers in more detail.
What are breathing training devices and who invented them?
Breathing training devices aim to strengthen the muscles we use to breathe. They are often used to help sufferers of lung diseases such as asthma or bronchiectasis, or people recovering from chest infections.
Vladimir Frolov is the inventor of the Frolov breathing device, which is the forerunner of modern breathing training devices.. Frolov was born in 1938 and worked with the Russian military in biochemistry and medicine for many years. In the 1980s, he started to have health problems.
He researched possible solutions to improve his health and came upon the Buteyko method, founded by Ukrainian doctor Konstantin Buteyko in the 1950s. These breathing exercises help control the depth and speed of breathing to enhance your Control Pause–the measure of how long we can unconsciously hold our breath. Frolov found these breathing exercises helpful, but they were only offered in a training session.
He wanted to make breathing training available to anyone right at home. He developed the Frolov device in the 1990’s to increase immune health by providing more efficient breathing.
How do breathing trainers work?
Respiratory training devices look like inhalers. They are designed to make it harder to breathe to strengthen your lung muscles.
As you breathe in and out of the device, you activate muscles like the diaphragm and the intercostals (located between the ribs).
The way that the most lung trainers work is by stimulating and further exercising the muscles that are associated with breathing.
There are two main areas that respiratory muscle training focuses on improving:
- Building strength and endurance in your respiratory muscles.
- Creating the brain-body connections that enhance conscious and efficient breathing patterns.
By improving the strength and stamina of your respiratory system, you can increase sports performance by achieving better oxygen delivery to your body.
Do breathing trainers work and how quickly?
One study, in particular, seems to demonstrate that there is a scientific basis for using breathing training devices to improve athletic performance.
A small study set out to learn whether the increased performance benefits seen in studies of these devices was attributable to an increase in exercise, rather than the respiratory trainer.
To figure this out, researchers observed the cycling endurance of 37 sedentary participants. Thirteen subjects underwent respiratory training, nine participated in aerobic endurance training (cycling or running), while 15 controls remained sedentary.
After 15 weeks, researchers found meaningful endurance improvement in both the aerobic training group and the respiratory training group compared to the control. These results suggest that increased athletic performance due to respiratory muscle training is not due to exercise. (Markov, et. al.)
According to this study, the strength of the respiratory system is a limiting factor in exercise performance. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that respiratory trainers may benefit athletes.
Despite the findings of Markov, research surrounding respiratory muscle training varies. Some studies have shown significant improvements in either time to exhaustion or time trial performance, while others show no effect.
It is reasonable to estimate that with regular use results may be seen within 3-4 months.
How to use a breathing trainer?
As a form of Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT), a breathing trainer is a small handheld device designed to strengthen the muscles used for inhalation and exhalation during breathing.
Most breathing trainers are designed to be completed as isolated training (not while performing other exercises), generally only taking up to 5-10 minutes a day.
Respiratory muscle training works by providing resistance during the inhalation phase and exhalation phase of breathing. Just like weight training at the gym, the added resistance strengthens the muscles that your body uses to breathe over time.
It is recommended you do breathing training once a day for 5-10 minutes for the best results.
Will it increase your Vo2?
Vo2 max is the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise, used as a way of measuring a person's individual aerobic capacity.
Aerobic training such as running, cycling and any kind of physical exercise can increase a person’s Vo2 max.
Breathing trainer devices can also help you improve your Vo2 Max if used regularly. The advantage being that there is no wear and tear on the joints, so using these devices is a particularly good option for athletes wanting to maintain their fitness whilst they’re injured for example.
Will it help if I have asthma?
Various breathing training programmes may be helpful for adults with asthma. The main therapeutic aim for many of these programmes is the correction of dysfunctional breathing.
By learning to breathe more effectively with the help of apps accompanying the devices, a user could learn to alter the way they breathe to become more efficient.
It has been shown that using a breathing trainer devices can reduce breathlessness in people with asthma.
New research has shown that exercising and strengthening the muscles we use to breathe in, the inspiratory muscles, can help reduce breathlessness and can also alleviate the symptoms of asthma.
Will I run faster from using a breathing trainer?
Learning how to control your breath when running will not only strengthen endurance, pace, and performance, it will also lead to faster recovery and a less stressed mind.
The easiest way to become a faster runner may be to change the way you breathe.
According to a recent study on coupled breathing also known as “locomotor-respiratory coupling,” or, in English, breathing in a set pattern along with stride, the practice can reduce the amount of work muscles have to do during a run.
In no particular order, we are going to cover some of our favourite breathing training devices:
- Airofit Pro
- Oumua Pro
- Powerbreathe K5
- Powerbreathe Plus Heavy Resistance
- Ultrabreathe Breathing Exerciser
- Aerofit Active
- Powerbreathe Plus Heavy Resistance - Black
Price £295 - Buy Now From Airofit
The Airofit Pro Breathing Trainer provides adjustable airflow resistance to your respiratory muscles. It sends data about your breathing volumes and strength to your smartphone.
Airofit is designed to be used separately from training and other physical activity. The Airofit gives you a personalized training program based on your selected focus area, as well as your baseline lung function measurement. It then considers your data, your age, size and gender to tailor each training session.
Price $169 - Buy Now From Oumua
Ouma Pro is a smart breathing trainer, and can help improve your overall fitness and health. It also claims to assist in giving up smoking / vaping.
The device is used by either exhaling or inhaling through one of the 2 air channels that provide adjustable restricted air flow.
It connects to a smart app which tracks your progress, provides workout routines and live training advice.
Price £575 - Buy now from Powerbreathe
The POWERbreathe K-Series is the world’s first range of intelligent digital breathing training devices.
The K-Series uses a patented and researched based ‘intelligent tapering system’ that matches the strength profile of your breathing muscles, providing you with the most effective way of training your breathing muscles, compared to conventional methods.
The K-Series devices feature an electronically controlled ‘tapered flow resistance’ that uses a computer controlled rotary valve to create the resistance to your in-breath.
As a result of this, resistance is not fixed at the same level throughout your breath (unlike a pressure threshold device), because the device automatically reduces the resistance as you progress through your breath, matching the load to your declining muscle strength.
During the first two breaths of each training session there is no resistance and you should inhale as quickly and deeply as possible. It’s during these breaths that the K-Series device measures your maximum breathing capability. Training load is then gradually introduced during breaths three and four until full loading is achieved for breath five and onwards. During these breaths you will find it increasingly harder to inhale.
Training measurement results are displayed on the device’s LCD screen, allowing you to monitor training progress and optimise your training technique.
POWERBREATHE PLUS HEAVY RESISTANCE
Price £70 - Buy now from Amazon
The powerbreathe plus heavy resistance breathing trainer device is only recommended Heavy for those that have reached the highest load setting on a Medium Resistance device.
POWERbreathe Plus has 11 adjustable levels so that over time you will be able to strengthen your inspiratory breathing muscles, helping you to increase your stamina and overall wellness.
Product features include optimised airflow performance to make training more effective, adjustable resistance mechanism, easy to read resistance level indicator.
The device is ergonomically designed with soft, comfortable mouthpiece. It is compact and simply designed meaning it is very portable.
Price £110 - Buy now from Airofit
The Airofit PRO System consists of an Airofit Breathing Trainer and a Virtual Breathing Coach in an interactive mobile app, allowing you to train your Respiratory strength, Vital lung capacity, anaerobic threshold, and other areas of your breathing.
The premium subscription features include goal-specific training programs, personal training plans, live guidance and feedback and lung function measurements, and then the device will set recommended training plans for you based on the results.
There is a program for increasing your anerobic threshold (great for runners, as it helps you run at high intensity for longer) and one for lung capacity, as well as some advanced programmes that work on all different elements of breathing strength for running.
AIRPHYSIO FOR SPORTS
Price £65 - Buy now from Amazon
The Airphysio Sport is an expiratory trainer designed specifically for Professional/ Performance Athletes and Amateur Sporting Elites.
It is designed to increase O2 and CO2 gas transfer to increase exercise time and deep breathing strength, and reduce recovery time.
This device is very easy to assemble, and requires just a few minutes training per day to see results.
Price £20 - Buy Now From Amazon
The Ultrabreathe is a compact inspiratory/expiratory muscle trainer, use of this breathing device trainer will increase the strength and durability of the respiratory muscles.
It works on the principle of resistance. As you inhale, the resistance created makes your respiratory muscles work harder, and the harder they work the stronger and more durable they become – and as your breathing power improves, the Ultrabreathe can be gradually adjusted to provide more resistance.
DO YOU USE A BREATHING TRAINER TO IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING?
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