RMT for athletes – boost your performance by training your respiratory muscles

RMT for athletes - boost your performance by training your respiratory muscles

Exercise can serve as recreational pastime, improve fitness, help to reduce weight, or represent the core activity of professional athletes. Independent of the goals of exercise, one fundamental rule of exercise states that muscles must be trained to improve performance. While this rule applies to all muscles of the body, the respiratory musculature is often overlooked. Strengthening your respiratory power by RMT can however greatly contribute to improving exercise capacity and peak performance – and may just provide that little, but crucial advantage in professional sport.

Here is why respiratory muscle performance is critical for exercise, what impact RMT has had on the performance of athletes, and how RMT can be included into training routines.


  • The limit of exercise tolerance – in athlete and patient alike – is determined by local muscle discomfort, dyspnea and fatigue, with dyspnea being the greatest contributor to exercise cessation. The reason for both muscle pain and dyspnea is a failure of the cardiorespiratory system to deliver adequate oxygen to support the current metabolic requirements of the muscles involved [1].
  • Respiratory muscle training (RMT) improves exercise-limiting dyspnea and delays time to fatigue in healthy people and athletes [2–4].
  • RMT enhances performance by improving respiratory muscle endurance, maximal sustainable ventilatory capacity (MSVC) and maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) [5].
  • Combining RMT with other training modules such as HIIT further enhances the effects of training, as measured by core strength and endurance, onset of blood lactate accumulation, endurance running performance and economy in recreational runners [6].
  • Exercise underwater requires increased respiratory work due to hydrostatic pressure differences across the chest wall. RMT improves endurance of fin swimmers and significantly improves surface and underwater swim times [7].
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of RMT on endurance performance confirmed effectiveness of RMT, particularly of combining inspiratory and expiratory muscle training [3] – the Breather is the first device to offer both IMT and EMT.
  • Studies have shown that respiratory muscle training (RMT) improves oxygen uptake, VO2max and ventilatory efficiency, improving aerobic fitness [8–12].
  • RMT was also shown to improve the blood flow to resting and exercising limbs, delaying the metaboreflex, thereby improving exercise capacity and endurance [13].
  • RMT strengthens the diaphragm and improves posture and proprioceptive use, for better balance and injury prevention [14].

How to use the Breather to boost performance

  • The Breather is intended for moderate to high-intensity RMT in healthy adults and athletes. RMT is recommended at 70% to 80% of MIP for 2 to 3x 10 breaths, twice a day.
  • In addition, using RMT to warm up respiratory muscles before high-intensity exercise can significantly improve time to exhaustion. The protocol has to be determined individually for this purpose [15]
  • Conclusion

    Integrating RMT using the Breather into your training schedule will boost your performance, fuel your body with oxygen and decrease the time to fatigue.


    1. McConnell A. Respiratory Muscle Training: Theory and Practice. 1 edition. Churchill Livingstone; 2013.
    2. Shei RJ, Lindley M, Chatham K, Mickleborough TD. Effect of flow-resistive inspiratory loading on pulmonary and respiratory muscle function in sub-elite swimmers. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2016;56: 392–398.
    3. Illi SK, Held U, Frank I, Spengler CM. Effect of respiratory muscle training on exercise performance in healthy individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2012;42: 707–724.
    4. Ramsook AH, Molgat-Seon Y, Schaeffer MR, Wilkie SS, Camp PG, Reid WD, et al. Effects of inspiratory muscle training on respiratory muscle electromyography and dyspnea during exercise in healthy men. J Appl Physiol. 2017;122: 1267–1275.
    5. Sales AT do N, Fregonezi GA de F, Ramsook AH, Guenette JA, Lima INDF, Reid WD. Respiratory muscle endurance after training in athletes and non-athletes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Phys Ther Sport. 2016;17: 76–86.
    6. Tong TK, McConnell AK, Lin H, Nie J, Zhang H, Wang J. “Functional” Inspiratory and Core Muscle Training Enhances Running Performance and Economy. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30: 2942–2951.
    7. Lindholm P, Wylegala J, Pendergast DR, Lundgren CEG. Resistive respiratory muscle training improves and maintains endurance swimming performance in divers. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2007;34: 169–180.
    8. Dall’Ago P, Chiappa GRS, Guths H, Stein R, Ribeiro JP. Inspiratory Muscle Training in Patients With Heart Failure and Inspiratory Muscle Weakness. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006;47: 757–763.
    9. Mancini DM, Henson D, La Manca J, Donchez L, Levine S. Benefit of selective respiratory muscle training on exercise capacity in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. Circulation. 1995;91: 320–329.
    10. Mello PR, Guerra GM, Borile S, Rondon MU, Alves MJ, Negrão CE, et al. Inspiratory muscle training reduces sympathetic nervous activity and improves inspiratory muscle weakness and quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure: a clinical trial. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2012;32: 255–261.
    11. Laoutaris ID, Dritsas A, Kariofyllis P, Manginas A. Benefits of inspiratory muscle training in patients with pulmonary hypertension: A pilot study. Hellenic J Cardiol. 2016; doi:10.1016/j.hjc.2016.05.008
    12. Laohachai K, Winlaw D, Selvadurai H, Gnanappa GK, d’Udekem Y, Celermajer D, et al. Inspiratory Muscle Training Is Associated With Improved Inspiratory Muscle Strength, Resting Cardiac Output, and the Ventilatory Efficiency of Exercise in Patients With a Fontan Circulation. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6. doi:10.1161/JAHA.117.005750
    13. Chiappa GR, Roseguini BT, Vieira PJC, Alves CN, Tavares A, Winkelmann ER, et al. Inspiratory muscle training improves blood flow to resting and exercising limbs in patients with chronic heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;51: 1663–1671.
    14. Janssens L, McConnell AK, Pijnenburg M, Claeys K, Goossens N, Lysens R, et al. Inspiratory muscle training affects proprioceptive use and low back pain. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;47: 12–19.
    15. Thurston TS, Coburn JW, Brown LE, Bartolini A, Beaudette TL, Karg P, et al. Effects of Respiratory Muscle Warm-up on High-Intensity Exercise Performance. Sportscience. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute; 2015;3: 312–324.

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    1. Terry Boyle

      As a graduate of the Silva Method of Mindfulness training in 1976, I am an 84 year old senior, working on eliminating my blood pressure medication. Short story, “After finishing my daily computer stuff, I took my blood pressure. It was 149 Systolic, above 80 Dystolic. Then I meditated for 20 to 30 minutes and took my pressure again. Systolic 99, Dystolic below 80/, a drop of 50 points Systolic. So I know it can be done by training. I am glad I found this site. Now my goal is to train my self (I am also a soloist in our chorus, so it will help me there).

      • PN Medical

        Dear Terry,
        Many thanks for taking the time to write this powerful comment, which proves the power of training, meditation and self care. It is impressive what meditation and breathing can do and hats off to you for being so committed to get your health back.
        We are positive using The Breather will help to lower your blood pressure as well as strengthen your voice range. However, we recommend you be VERY CAUTIOUS, Terry, before getting off the medication. Please, make sure you involve your doctor before stop taking them. Not doing so, can be dangerous.

        But, yes, very glad you are taking steps besides medication to get your health back!

        Please, keep us posted and/or contact us again if you need any help with your training.

        Kind regards,

        PN Medical
        [email protected]


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