From Ergo Log
If swimmers train their breathing with a kind of fitness inhaler for six weeks they’ll achieve better times in the water. Sports scientists from AUT University in New Zealand report this in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. Training the breathing muscles takes just a few minutes a day.
The gadget the researchers used is called the PowerBreathe and can be bought easily. The researchers got 8 trained swimmers to use the machine twice a day, breathing 30 times in and out per session.
It’s incredibly difficult to breathe in an out using the machine, but that’s the whole point: it trains the muscles that your lungs use to inhale air. Eight other swimmers did not train their lungs.
Before and after the 6 weeks of breathing training, the researchers timed the test subjects as they swam 100, 200 and 400 metres. They measured no effect for the 400 metres, but the figure below shows that the swimmers did increase their speeds for the 100 and 200 metres.
The table below provides more information on the effects of the breathing training. Effects with a P lower than 0.05 are interesting, the rest are not. As you can see, the swimmers that trained were 1.7 and 1.5 percent faster over the 100 and 200 metres respectively.
The effect on the maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) is also clear. Simply put, the MIP is the strength with which the test subjects sucked air into their lungs.
The researchers’ conclusion is not surprising. “Inspiratory muscle training can be considered a worthwhile ergogenic aid for club-level competitive swimmers.”
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Feb; 108(3): 505-11.