Breathing is a body function of everyday life that most people take for granted. Without the ability to breathe, we could not stay alive. Athletes understand the importance of proper breathing for training and fitness routines. How can you improve your breathing? Resistance training is the key. Working your muscles against resistance strengthens them over time. There are two distinct methods of resistance training: Progressive Threshold Resistance and Restrictive Resistance. So, what are the main differences between them?
Progressive Threshold Resistance â€“ How it works
As an athlete, strength training is a normal part of your fitness routine. Progressive threshold resistance focuses on training AND strengthening the muscles, whether they are breathing or any other muscle group in the body. When an athlete trains with weights, the weight creates a workload (resistance) for the muscles to work against and overcome. Rather than forcing air to flow through restricted air cavities, progressive threshold resistance forces air to flow in and out against a set threshold. This means that the user applies the same amount of effort to complete each phase of the exercise. Once the muscles have adapted to current threshold and can do the exercise or muscle work, without tiring, you can increase the threshold to allow the muscles to continue training at a new higher threshold. It also means you have greater flexibility in your training because you can do a variety of exercises.
Restrictive Resistance â€“ How it works
Imagine breathing through different sized straws. The amount of air that can move through a narrow straw versus a wide straw is very different. Restrictive resistance is the concept of limiting the space through which air can flow in order to improve your breathing. Different size holes represent restricted orifices that facilitate different amounts of airflow. You can buy restrictive resistance products on the market, which include Expand-a-Lung, SportsBreather (also called The Breather), UltraBreathe, and the Altitude Training Mask You can also make your own product at home using different sized straws or pipes. The most basic form of restrictive resistance is pursed-lip breathing and whistling.
Which resistance method should you choose?
When you inhale and exhale against a threshold of resistance, this trains both your inspiratory and expiratory muscles as you breathe. Strengthening your breathing muscles improves muscle power and endurance, and sustains your bodyâ€™s long-term health. PowerLung is an patented threshold resistance device that promotes better breathing and muscle strength, increasing your inhale muscle power greater than 40% and increasing your exhale muscle power over 150% (Greg Wells, University of Toronto Respiratory Research Group, 2003). PowerLung is also unique in that the resistance cells offer an almost infinite amount of adjustment because the inhale and exhale resistance cells adjust independently of each other. Just as an athlete trains using different amounts of weight resistance, PowerLungâ€™s two cells train your inhale and exhale breathing against your bodyâ€™s optimal resistance levels. Remember, expiratory breathing is just as important as inspiratory breathing.
Before you incorporate restrictive resistance into your training routine, take the following into consideration. If the hole is smaller, then the resistance and pressure are stronger. However, there is no way to assure that level of pressure is maintained throughout that breath or subsequent training breaths. Restrictive resistance may offer flow restriction for inhale and exhale, but without a threshold there is nothing in this method to assure you are performing the same amount of work throughout a single breath or in each breath. Fitness studies reveal that reducing the size of the opening that you breathe through actually causes reduced resistance and poor training results. This method â€œcreates a paradoxical situation where reducing the orifice size may cause a decrease rather than an increase in inspiratory load,â€ according to Michael J. Belman, MD, and Reza Shadmehr, MS.
Progressive threshold resistance enhances your respiratory power, at the same time providing inhale and exhale muscle training. If you are interested in improving your breathing, click here to learn more about PowerLungâ€™s progressive threshold resistance training.