Definition: Isocapnic Respiratory Training
To execute conditioning stimulus focused on the respiratory system while controlling systemic carbon dioxide levels.
On top of the decades of scientific studies showing the validity of isocapnic respiratory training, the Breathe Way Better (BWB) was specifically tested and verified in its ability to both effectively train the respiratory muscles and be more effective than non CO2 controlling (isocapnic) devices. This study (Kowalski et al., 2023), was a randomized control trial, and specifically targeted well-trained triathletes. It described the use of BWB as a training tool and labelled that training as Voluntary Isocapnic Hyperpnoea (VIH). The study compares the BWB to other devices that do not control carbon dioxide levels. These other devices collectively fall under the descriptive term in the paper as Inspiratory Pressure Threshold Loading (IPTL) devices which means all they do is provide resistance to your breathing and do not control CO2 levels, like the BWB does (8).
Your energy levels and fatigue resistance is greatly influenced by the fitness of your respiratory system. If your respiratory system is susceptible to early fatigue or you preemptively tire your respiratory system before entering the field of play, your performance will suffer, especially if your respiratory system is not well conditioned. There is a great research paper written for the Journal of Applied Physiology (Dempsey et al., 1992), that clearly shows this result. Makes sense when you think about it (7).
When the gauntlet has been thrown, and you are in the final sprint to the line or buzzer beating play, don’t be limited by your ability to breathe. Focused training with Breathe Way Better (BWB) can condition your respiratory system, by training you to be able to breathe harder and faster, pushing your performance to the next level. A study by Italian researchers, from the Institute of Sports Medicine in Turin (Ganzit et al., 2019), investigated effects of isocapnic respiratory training with youth elite soccer players. An improvement was found in diaphragm, rib cage mobility and improvement in the resistance of fatigue during maximal exercises increasing the performance in youth soccer players (1).
At a certain point, training more becomes counterproductive because you can only train so hard before recovery becomes inadequate. Adding Breathe Way Better sessions into your training program allows you to focus effective training on your respiratory system while resting your muscular-skeletal, neuro-muscular, cardiac, and metabolic. Imagine getting the same respiratory workout as maximal effort repeats, without stressing other systems. A study published in the Journal of Military Medicine (Uemura et al., 2012), looked at the effects of respiratory muscle training on exercise performance. They found that isocapnic respiratory training increased subjects ability to control high output breathing patterns by over 200% compared to traditional types of training (2).
Carbon dioxide desensitization is beneficial in athletic performance because it pushes the athletic breaking point higher, as well as brings on the added benefit of increased cardiac output and improved peripheral oxygenation. With BWB Training, you get all the benefits of carbon dioxide desensitization along with the benefits of training the respiratory muscles at high rates, improved lung expansion, and increased breath pressure. Dr. Schaer et al. (2019) out of Zürich published a study in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that found that "time saving respiratory muscle sprint-interval training" was a better use of time for achieving the desired training effect compared to traditional methods (3). Another study published in the Slovak physical therapy journal Rehabilitacia ( Buchtelová et al., 2018), found that isocapnic respiratory training not only improved the muscular development within the reparatory system, but also had a positive effect on overall physical performance (4).
Doing a lung volume focused Breathe Way Better session before or after you’ve finished a hard workout introduces an increased range of motion of your rib cage and diaphragm, allowing for an improved volume of air that you can move through your lungs. This effects how you breathe for the rest of the day, allowing you to breathe deeper and slower than you otherwise would. This will increase the level of oxygenated blood in your body, helping heal trauma your system has experienced. Scoggin et al. (1978) published a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, that states respiratory trained endurance athletes did have a higher tolerance to carbon dioxide levels (5). And we know that as carbon dioxide rises in our blood stream, so to does our ability to deliver oxygenated blood.
By training your respiratory system with the Breathe Way Better, you gain a greater functional range of motion, strength of respiration and CO2 tolerance. Because of these factors, you can move more air through your respiratory system with less effort. With lower need to breathe fast, CO2 can rise in your system and with it the expanded ability to deliver oxygenated blood to the periphery due to the combined effects of increased cardiac output, peripheral vasodilation and increased unloading of oxygen at the muscular level. Dr. Martin et al. (1979) published a study in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that found outstanding athletic performance was linked to the athletes ability to control their breathing to allow carbon dioxide to rise and resulted in elevated levels of oxygen in the blood. (6)
1. Ganzit, G. P., Scarzella, F., Cravero, M., Tarozzo, C., & Beratto, L. (2019). Evaluation of the effects of respiratory training on functional aerobic capacity in young soccer players. Medicina Dello Sport, 72(4).
2. Uemura, H., Lundgren, C. E. G., Ray, A. D., & Pendergast, D. R. (2012). Effects of different types of respiratory muscle training on exercise performance in runners. Military Medicine, 177(5).
3. Schaer, C. E., Wüthrich, T. U., Beltrami, F. G., & Spengler, C. M. (2019). Effects of sprint-interval and endurance respiratory muscle training regimens. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 51(2).
4. Buchtelová, E., Tichá, K., & Lhotská, Z. (2018). Effectiveness of respiration muscle training in sportsmen aged 14 and 15 years old. Rehabilitacia, 55(3).
5. Scoggin, C.H., Doekel, R.D., Kryger, M.H., Zwillich, C.W., & Weil, J.V. (1978). Familial aspects of decreased hypoxic drive in endurance athletes. Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental Exercise Physiology, 44(3):464-8. doi: 10.1152/jappl.19220.127.116.114. PMID: 632187.
6. Martin, B.J., Sparks, K.E., Zwillich, C.W., & Weil J.V. (1979). Low exercise ventilation in endurance athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 11(2):181-5. PMID: 491878.
7. Aaron EA, Seow KC, Johnson BD, Dempsey JA. (1992) Oxygen cost of exercise hyperpnea: implications for performance. J Appl Physiol 72:1818–1825.
8. T. Kowalski, P. S. Kasiak, K. Rebis, A. Klusiewicz, D. Granda & S. Wiecha (2023) Respiratory muscle training induces additional stress and training load in well-trained triathletes—randomized controlled trial. Frontiers in Physiology, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2023.1264265