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Improve your performance as an athlete by training your respiratory muscles

We spoke to you in an article about the type of strength training most convenient for marathon runners (and long distance runners in general). In it we alluded to the fact that we should not only train our lower train, but we must give due importance to other muscle groups, including respiratory muscles.

The specific training of the respiratory muscles can benefit us mainly (although not exclusively) when it comes to practicing endurance aerobic sports, and this is how we can do it.

The Benefits of Respiratory Muscle Training

Well-trained breathing muscles help increase the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles during exercise, so that more nutrients can reach them through the bloodstream. This causes the occurrence of muscle fatigue to occur later in time and, therefore, our performance in a resistance training or competition is better.

In the most demanding moments of a workout (for example, a quick race series training) or a competition (the final sprint before reaching the goal), well-trained breathing muscles help us to be more efficient.

In addition, specific training of respiratory muscles also helps us achieve lower resting pulsations in both trained and untrained subjects.

Improve your performance as an athlete by training your respiratory musclesWhat are respiratory muscles and how can we train them?

Breathing is a process that is performed automatically and in which different muscles participate in their different phases:

  • Inspiration: In the inspiratory phase, the main muscles are the internal and external intercostals (which raise the ribs and increase the capacity of our rib cage) and the diaphragm (which shrinks downward to leave room for the lungs). 
  • Expiration: during exhalation, intercontinental are also an important part of the process (pushing the ribs downwards). During voluntary exhalation, the muscles of the abdomen are also involved: the rectus abdominis, the external and internal obliques, and the transverse abdomen.

When working the respiratory muscles we can do it with or without accessories. If we work without accessories it is important that, first of all, we are aware of how the respiration in our organism is, that we know how to control the muscles that participate in it and that we know how to direct the air to where we are most interested.

For this, in previous articles we talk about the four types of breathing that we can carry out: you can go through the clavicular, intercostal and diaphragmatic breathing until you can practice a complete breath .

If we work with accessories, we also have several options. One of them are known as masks of hypoxia, which we also talked about recently : although they do not offer us the same benefits that we can provide training in height, they are a good accessory to improve our respiratory muscles. To do this, we will only have to regulate the air intake through the mouthpiece while performing aerobic exercise.

Another possibility we have to strengthen our diaphragm is the use of devices such as PowerBreathe (if we are athletes, we will get more out of their version of “performance”). It works basically like the masks we talked about before: the device has an adjustable resistance that graduates the entrance of air, so that we are forced to force our inspiratory muscles to be able to breathe.

Do you train your breathing muscles often? Have you noticed performance improvements after doing so?


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