Respiratory training products . . . Are they worth it?

Some time ago i was introduced to a peculiar looking bit of kit. It reminded me of a scuba regulator but as far as i could see it didnt do anything. Then I was told that it was a ‘Powerbreathe’ respiratory sports trainer. ‘Oooooooooh’ I thought to myself. The words ‘respiratory’ and ‘trainer’ rang hard in my ears. Could this be the icing on the cake to a good training regime? Will it help me get deeper or hold my breath longer? Ill be honest, I was full of hope for this strange little gadget.

There are quite a few of these things on the market, all doing the same job, and all sold under similar names. Some are ‘IronMan’ branded (must be good?!) whilst some are aimed squarely at infrequent exercisers stating that they will help those with a sedentry lifestyle.

So i started using the one i was given with some regularity. The principle of these tools is that they inhibit your inspiration through a combination of spring loaded chambers and other features. This is desinged with the goal of increasing the power of your intercostal muscles and diapragm.

It had a few different settings affecting the resistance of the gadget. These settings being controlled by a dial on the base. So i started on a low setting….. Which was really easy, a little like breathing through gently pursed lips… so I ramped it up a tad. Now set at a mid-way point in the scale it was quite difficult to take a deep breath, so I continued for the recommended 30 breaths.

By the end of the session i did feel like I was given a bit of a chest workout! So I continued using it for about a month in the knowledge that I was going to the Red Sea for some diving so wanted to be in good shape.

So did it help my diving?

um…. no…..I dont think it did….

In principle its a nice idea but i dont think it helps us particularly as freedivers. It may be of benefit to other athletes who need to to focus on continued breathing though out  their activity, like runners or other sports, but thats not us. Its also may strengthen the diapragm and intercostals too much, making the muscles stiffer and less flexible, unable to expand to their fullest capacity.

As a freediver, if im going to invest in a bit of ‘breathing’ kit I really want it to help me find my maximum inspiratory volume, increase my overall thoracic flexibility and reduce my RV.

These are not cheap either starting from about £29 all the way up to… wait for it… £300… gulp!

You also cant help but feel that you could replicate the effects of these machines by breathing in through a straw or something else which inhibits air flow.

Dont get the wrong impression, im not slamming these things, and if you want to try one then go ahead. Im sure that more conventional athletic pursuits may see some benefit but  as a freediver im not sure its going to rock your world.

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