Endurance

This exercise has been used by US Olympic swimmers to boost endurance by simulating the effects of high-altitude training. At its core, this exercise helps the body become accustomed to higher levels of Co2.⠀The key to this pattern is to build up mild and manageable hunger for air. This means that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the bloodstream, and over time your body will become more efficient at utilizing less and less air.
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the method

5s 8s 5s
INHALE EXHALE HOLD

How To

1. Sip air in gently through the nose

Inhale gently through the nose to the count of five. Your goal is to build up a manageable hunger for air, so on each inhale, take in just a little bit less air than you normally would. Engage the diaphragm (belly) as much as possible.

2. Exhale fully

Through the nose our mouth, exhale completely. Squeeze out every lost drop of air until there’s absolutely nothing left. Contract the belly inwards on each exhale, allowing the stomach to push out all the air.

3. Squeeze!

After fully exhaling, hold the breath and squeeze for several seconds. Allow yourself to build up a mild hunger for air. This means your body is accumulating with Co2, and the exercise is doing its job: simulating the effects of high-altitude training. Repeat the process, focusing on maintaining a sustainable hunger for air for up to 15 minutes.

Tips

Supercharge your cardio

Performing this exercise while walking, jogging, or cycling can be a great way to supercharge your workout.

Walk your way to better health

If you’d like, you can replace this pattern with a simple walking exercise. Breathe in for 4 steps, then breathe out for 8. Finally, hold the breath while walking for as long as possible before inhaling again.

Warm up

This is a great exercise to use to warm up before cardio or strength training. It’s low-impact so it won’t strain your body before an athletic event or intense training.

Benefits

Improve endurance and performance

This exercise will train your body to become more accustomed to higher levels of Co2. In doing so, your body will become increasingly adept at operating in the highly-acidic states that exercise demands. Cells will become more efficient picking up oxygen molecules from the bloodstream, and overall circulation will improve thanks to an increase in nitric oxide.

Bring the mountain to you

By increasing the amount of Co2 in the body, this exercise simulates the effects of high-altitude training. This allows you to increase performance just about anytime, anywhere.

Clear your sinuses

As an added boost, this exercise, while done walking, can also help clear out the sinuses. During each breath-hold, a compound called nitric oxide builds up in the sinus cavities. Nitric oxide has powerful anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties that can clear congestion and sinusitis.

Origins

Variations of this exercise have been used for decades by athletes of the highest caliber.

James Nestor, in his book, Breath, describes how Dr. Carl Stough used breathing exercises to increase athletic performance in Olympic runners:

“On the heels of the Yale success, Stough moved to South Lake Tahoe to train Olympic runners preparing for the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Same therapy, same success. A decathlete went out to the track and broke his previous record. Another broke his lifetime record. A runner named Rick Sloan broke his two life records for three events.”

By building up levels of Co2 in the bloodstream, athletes and coaches have been able to simulate the effects of high-altitude training and allow athletes to increase metabolic efficiency. Utilizing exercises that increase Co2 levels has several advantages for performance:

  • The body becomes increasingly accustomed to higher levels of Co2, which helps prevent fatigue
  • Breathing requires energy from the body. By training the body to breathe less, athletes can use less energy to breathe during athletic events and more energy to perform
  • The low-impact nature of breathwork training allows athletes to improve endurance and performance without risking injury

Sources: Breath by James Nestor and Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown.