Don't hold your breath.

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Toofastnogood, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. Toofastnogood

    Toofastnogood New Member

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    Would training my body to be able to do without breathing for over four minutes have any benefit on cycling if used in conjunction with training(obviusly)
    My reasoning is that if I hold my breath for 4 minutes 5 times a day my body will become more efficient at using oxygen.
    I'm no doctor and would certainly not mind being told my suggestion is completely idiotic, but using my own logic it makes sense.Free divers have some of the lowest resting heart rates in the world

    So will i be better if I train as I usually do but add in my breath holding idea.Regardless off potential brain damage.
     
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  2. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    Can't see how holding your breath would do a thing. You need to train and increase your ability to intake and process maximum O2 to the leg muscles, not the ability of your brain to stay conscious at minimum oxygen levels.
     
  3. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Are they also great cyclists, or are the two mostly unrelated? ;)
     
  4. jrstevens

    jrstevens New Member

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    There's some peer reviewed research to support inspiratory muscle training using a handheld device shown here: http://www.gaiam.com/retail/product.asp?product_id=95-1006%20MSTR

    takes about 5 minutes twice per day and if nothing else has helped me to slow down my respiration rate during hard efforts

    JS
     
  5. pod

    pod New Member

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    Only if you want to cycle under water
     
  6. macca123

    macca123 New Member

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    swimming under water would help increase lung capacity and the efficiency of oxygen use, surely this would help in some way.
     
  7. BlueIcarus

    BlueIcarus New Member

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    Hi,
    As a freediver and also cyclist (both a very humble recreational level), I think I can make just a few comments
    on your question. Prepare yourself,this is going to be a long post :)
    A few years ago (and I'm only speaking about three or four years ago here) in the freediving community it was generally accepted that aerobic exercise was a good way for improving your apnea times (bot static and dynamic, i.e: while swimming underwater). The reasoning behind this was no reasoning at all :p . Everybody's intuition converged on thinking that a good cardiovascular system was of paramount importance for a freediver. Nowadays, this remains true. But only in the anaerobic sense. Think about it.. is there anything more anaerobic than moving your muscles without breathing??? So, a tipical year round program for a freediver is: winter-> aerobic cardio (just to PREPARE for apnea and ANAEROBIC cardio) spring-> transition from aerobic to anaerobic exercises (apnea weight lifting, apnea running, apnea swimming, etc) and summer-> freedive!! (autumn rest is really important as long as apnea exercise is the most tiring exercise due to its extremely anaerobic nature)

    The main adaptations after apnea training are:
    - Increased blood red cell count
    - Increased hemoglobin
    - Increased ribcage mobility
    - Increased (lots and lots) lactic acid tolerance (only if you train DYNAMIC apnea). After 45 seconds of swimming underwater without breathing, your whole body is bathed in lactid acid...
    you just don't have the O2 for aerobic metabolic path!!
    - Increased blood alkalinity (this has been shown to be really healthy and protective to your inmune system
    - Unhuman decreased resting heart rate, but no changes in stroke volume (I think is is because of parasympathetic nervous system over-stimulation). On a static I often wear a HRM and can see numbers on the lowest 30's

    The anaerobic exercises that mostly resembles apnea adaptations are anaerobic 'all-out' efforts on the 1 minute-2 minutes time span

    Aerobic exercise has been shown to be, in fact, detrimental to apnea development, because the increased muscle mythochondrias (I don't know If this is by number or size, I'm so ignorant!! :p ) from cardio exercise and high VO2 max just rob the O2 you are holding.

    Apnea exercise ONLY cross-trains to anaerobic exercise in the 1-2 minute segment

    But (there's always a but) it can help with your cycling for sure, because of the improved BREATHING technique. But for this, I'll just recommend Ashtanga Yoga. Improved diaphragm strength, rib cage expansion, muscle definition, joint mobility, RHR and softnening of your body imbalances and of course... lots of breath control

    If I have some time, I can post some well-known freedivers training regime. Most are like a 400m runner or a boxer: 50% aerobic, 50% anaerobic

    BTW, brain damage only BEGINS after about 8 minutes from the point where you lost blacked-out.
    Blacking Out is not a sympton of brain damage.. it's a self protective mechanism of your wise body just to stop you from conciously resuming your breath :)

    I once heard of a cyclist who swam underwater regularly 25 meters in a pool just to mantain the lungs elasticity. This is the kind of cross-training you can expect from apnea-training to cycling:
    More air volume, more lung control with less effort

    Cheers from Spain,


    Oscar
     
  8. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Wow! What an interesting and well-informed post. Who knew we had a free-diving cyclist in our midst?

    I'm pretty sure that I've seen Andy Coggan posting that VO2max and aerobic performance in cyclists is limited by O2 distribution and processing, and not by intake. Bigger lungs or better breathing (compared to the average) is unlikely to provide cycling benefit in that regard -- it's aerobic exercise that's needed.
     
  9. Toofastnogood

    Toofastnogood New Member

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    Thank you blueicarus for your educated reply.
    I was of course only lightening my OP with the brain damage comment,as I was expecting a lot of negative feedback.
    I will continue to do my breathing exercises even if it is just for a personal experiment and challenge.When I started I could only reach 2:40mins I'm now able to consistently hold my breath over 4:10min although I must admit from 3:30 onwards its just a matter of holding on for a p/b time.
    From your post it seems it would be best to exercise whilst doing this. At the moment i'm not active when holding my breath but I will add this to my exercise itinery.
     
  10. BlueIcarus

    BlueIcarus New Member

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    Dont' want to argue with Andy :D, but I'm pretty sure than bettering one's
    breathing technique (i.e: completely filling your lungs instead of filling them only by half) can make you a better cyclist just compared with YOURSELF.
    Sometimes you don't need studies, just an irrefutable fact to prove something
    Supose
    you undergo lung surgery and have one lung removed. Will your performance on the bike will be better or worse? The answer is obvious at the beginning, but normally the body response to this situation is to make the only lung avalilable BIGGER (so definitely your body is feeling 'halved' on normal life, not to say on sports). Most of us are breathing like we are using only one lung (using both, but only by half). Call it want you want.. pranayama, yoga, breathing technique, etc.. but the result is better filling of the lungs.

    BTW, how do they measured the figure 'better breathing' among the subjects in the 'studies' ? Just healthy curiosity :)
     
  11. MichaelB

    MichaelB New Member

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    Its me bezzy mate again. How you doing buddy? :)
     
  12. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Well, what I said was that for an average cyclist, improving lung capacity will not improve VO2max, because O2 intake is not the limiting mechanism for O2 uptake. If you remove someone's lung, or make them breathe through a straw, etc. so that they have a greatly reduced breathing capacity from the average, then the statement may have to be evaluated in context of the specific circumstances.

    He didn't link a study with that statement, but if you persist here maybe he or Lidsay will oblige. I don't imagine it would be too hard to study. If someone's O2 intake is significantly higher than their VO2max, then that would suggest to me that intake is not the limiting factor. I think maybe 8th grade is where I learned that air is ~20% O2, and exhalations are ~16% O2. With such a small a degree of utilization, it's not hard for me to believe that improved intake would produce little effect on uptake.
     
  13. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Oh my... reminds me sweet memories of endless debates.

    This is a very old subject in the swimming world, for obvious reasons. To make a short story, I have never found one single study that confirms benefits of hypoxia training on swimming performances. And nowdays, it is not even a debate anymore, swimming coaches agree on the fact that hypoxic sets are good for the psychological factor, but have no impact on the LT, VO2Max or economy.

    Here is an extract of a little study, + the link to read the whole thing :

    http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/94/2/733

    :)
     
  14. jrstevens

    jrstevens New Member

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    Oh, I didn't realize we were mates. What does bezzy mean?

    JS
     
  15. mises

    mises New Member

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    Anything that produces hypoxia will stimulate red cell production if combined with the correct nutrients.
     
  16. acoggan

    acoggan Member

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    You're right, you shouldn't argue with me. :p

    Deliberately increasing your tidal volume during exercise will only result in additional energetic strain on your respiratory muscles, since it would mean having to stretch your lungs, etc., more. Fortunately, our bodies have an exceedingly elaborate sensory system for determining how frequently and how deeply we should breathe to both maintain blood gas concentrations and minimize the energy costs of moving air in and out of our lungs. About the only time this might not be true would be during very high intensity exercise, which in some individuals results in arterial desaturation as a result of a relative hypoventilatory response. Even in that situation (i.e., exercise-induced arterial hypoxemia, or EIAH), however, other factors (such as very short capillary mean transit time in the lungs, or a reduction in pulmonary diffusing capacity due to an inflammatory response) are more often/more important the/as a cause of EIAH.
     
  17. acoggan

    acoggan Member

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    Unless, of course, the degree and/or duration of hypoxia is insufficient to produce a sustained increase in EPO secretion.
     
  18. nitrogenmustard

    nitrogenmustard New Member

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    if it would increase EPO secretion wouldnt just that part of it be of benefit, bcuz didnt EPO used to be a big thing in performance enhancing drugs? just a theory, maybe it will help psychologically if nothing else.
     
  19. BtonRider

    BtonRider New Member

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    This is a very interesting topic and I would like to point out a couple of details that might add to the discussion.

    First, on the issue of holding your breath. I've thought about this too. After all, the "sleep high train low" philosophy has been scientifically tested using low pressure tents, so why not do it more intensly for short periods of time. Here are a couple such papers



    Rusko HK, Tikkanen HO, Peltonen JE.
    Acute sleep responses in a normobaric hypoxic tent.
    Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jun;37(6):1075-9.

    Schmidt, W. Effects of intermittent exposure to high altitude on blood volume and erythropoietic activity.
    High Alt Med Biol. 2002 Summer;3(2):167-76. Review.

    The abstract for the first paper reads as:
    "The benefits of living and training at high altitude (HiHi) for an improved sea-level performance have been questioned because controlled studies have shown contradictory results. HiHi increases red blood cell mass (RCM), but training in hypoxia may be either an inadequate (low-intensity) or even harmful (to heart, muscle, and brain) stimulus. Recent studies indicate that the best approach to attain the benefits and overcome the problems of altitude training is to sleep at a natural or simulated moderate altitude and train at low altitude or sea level (HiLo). HiLo training increases RCM, as well as sea-level VO(2max) and performance (at least in responders), if certain prerequisites are fulfilled. The minimum dose seems to be more than 12 hours per day for over 3 weeks at an altitude or simulated altitude of 2100 to 2500 m. The effects of exposure to hypoxia seem to persist for a short period during the subsequent training or racing in normoxia."


    So there are a couple things to pull out of this. First, you benefit most from sleeping in low pressure. I don't think they've determined the particular mechanism for this yet but they know the recovery process (i.e. growing red blood cells) is most intense while sleeping. The period of exposure to stimulate increased red blood cell counts is 12 hours a day for 3 weeks and the effect is short lived after the treatment is discontinued. The body may not respond to the short 4 minutes of hypoxia by increasing red blood cells, but you should certainly get a psychological benifit.


    On the issue of breathing exercises and tidal volume, a few of the posts here have been spot on: you can't significant increase your oxygen uptake by increasing your tidal volume. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body is a kinetic process that is governed by a chemical reaction rate constant that is the same for every person with hemoglobin. The people who get more oxygen from a breath of air have more surface area in the lungs (i.e. more alveoli). Growing lung tissue isn’t something that happens overnight; it takes years of prolonged stress. Basically you need to learn to work with that you’ve got.

    In all fairness though, breathing exercises do offer some benefit to cyclists. It’s a natural, physiological response to take short, shallow breaths when the heart rate gets really high (well above the lactate threshold). Some cyclists demonstrate this behavior on long climbs; even though they think they’re taking in normal breaths more frequently, that’s not necessarily the case. When taking short, shallow breaths the lungs (and thus the alveoli) aren’t totally emptied after each breath so they’re retaining some of the carbon dioxide from the previous breath and bringing in less fresh air. That’s part of why some coaches train their athletes to totally drain their lungs before a major sprint or even to do some minor hyperventilating (not really in cycling though). You’ll also see free divers doing self-induced hyperventilation before a dive to increase the oxygen saturation of their blood (this can be dangerous though). My point is this, on long climbs you may need to consciously exhale most of the air from your lungs if you’re working at your physical limits and breathing exercises can help.

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