Respiratory Muscle Training

In this post we will seek to understand in a superficial way what is breathing, ventilation, gas exchange and how training the muscles responsible for ventilation can help us improve our performance.

In this post we will seek to understand in a superficial way what is breathing, ventilation, gas exchange and how training the muscles responsible for ventilation can help us improve our performance.<br><br>The first thing to understand is that breathing is a process that goes beyond inhalation and exhalation. It is a chain of events facilitated by the autonomic nervous system, with some voluntary control, which goes from ventilation (entry and exit of air from the lungs), gas exchange, the transport of gases fixed to blood cells (red blood cells) or diluted in the same plasma, which then cross the capillary membrane to reach the tissues where in the mitochondria inside the cell they will be used together with carbohydrates or lipids to produce chemical energy ( ATP ).<br><br>Now understanding that breathing is an extensive process, we will focus on ventilation and its two main phases: inhalation and exhalation. The first one is a completely active process where the action of the inspiratory muscles generates an increase in lung volume, which in turn generates a negative pressure that leads the ambient air to enter to occupy that space. On the other hand, exhalation, which is a passive process when the inspiratory muscles simply stop exerting force, this size is reduced by the elastic recoil of the lung, which leads to the air exhalation. It can also be mixed if we accompany this passive action by the contraction of the expiratory muscles that increase the air exhaling flow, thus allowing a new ventilatory cycle to be started again with greater speed.<br><br>Within each lung according to West we can find three zones, the upper one where the alveoli (functional and basic structure of the lung) are very ventilated, but there is few blood supply, a middle zone where both ventilation and circulation are optimal and an inferior zone where in spite of the great irrigation, the ventilation is limited.<br><br>We expand on all the above to understand that the training of the respiratory muscles is not only focused on making them “stronger” but will also have the objective of improving the ventilatory pattern, generating a greater motor recruitment of the diaphragm to thus, increase ventilation in the lung bases, seeking to increase the gas exchange surface in a region that is already well irrigated.<br><br>According to the literature, these are some of the benefits that we can obtain with stronger, more resistant respiratory muscles and with a mixed ventilation pattern (diaphragmatic + costal) that allows us a greater lung volume during activity:

We will shift the ventilatory threshold 2 slightly to the right, bringing it closer to VO2 Max, remember that this vt2 is related to the maximum stable state of lactate and ftp in cycling, basically we will be able to sustain a slightly higher continuous rhythm for extended periods of time.

We will increase ventilation in the lung bases, increasing the gas exchange area, theoretically needing (lack of evidence) a fewer number of breaths per minute to be able to maintain chemical balance. This reduction in breaths per minute will be related to a decrease in sensation of suffocation and fatigue of the same respiratory muscles.

As such, as these respiratory muscles are stronger and more resistant, their rate of fatigue will also decrease, delaying its appearance and allowing these intensities of high demand for respiratory frequency to be maintained for slightly longer periods of time.

Although the training of the respiratory muscles has clear scientific evidence in improving performance, the mechanisms through which it generates this increase in performance still need to be understood in greater depth.<br><br>Note: Although respiratory muscle training is a great complement to the training of the resistance discipline practiced, it is far from being able to replace conventional training and should be understood as a complement and applied in auxiliary sessions rather than in the main ones.<br><br>By Pablo Pulido<br>Methodological director of Threshold Experst S.A,S.

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