XPT Guide to Breather Fit

By PJ Nestler | Thu Jun 11 2020

Welcome to the XPT Guide to Breather Fit. In this guide we will discuss the importance of respiratory training, using the Breather Fit for a variety of training purposes, and scaling your training up and down to match your current goals and abilities.

The Breather Fit is available now in the XPT Life store.

Why train the respiratory system?

Just like every system, your respiratory system works best when it’s strong, efficient and effective at the variety of tasks required. Unfortunately, since breathing is primarily an unconscious activity, our respiratory system is often neglected in the scope of our training. Most people don’t give breathing a second thought until their breathing is impacted, either by injury, chronic illness, exhausting exercise, extreme situations like panic attacks, or when our breath has been taken away from us like being held underwater. This has led to severe limitations in breathing efficiency, capacity, control and overall function.

Fortunately, correcting these issues and improving the function of the respiratory system is one of the most inexpensive (free), accessible  (everyone can do it), and holistic types of training you can undertake. With just a few minutes of intentional training each day you can significantly improve the strength, endurance, and function of your respiratory muscles which can create a snowball effect of benefits including improved health, sleep, physical and mental performance as well as decreased risk for chronic illness and stress.

The Breather Fit allows us to access all of these benefits in the most effective and scalable way possible. With independent resistance dials for both inhale and exhale, the Breather Fit allows progressive training for both sides of the breath. The design allows training similar to that found at the gym allowing for increased resistance to continually build strength. Following the protocols in this guide will create the foundation for optimal breathing in everyday life and fitness while preparing your body and mind to unlock your true potential through harnessing the power of the breath.

Protocol 1: Respiratory muscle training (RMT)

This daily practice will set the foundation for everything else you will do and build a high functioning, strong, and efficient respiratory system.

  1. Begin in a supine (lying on your back) or seated position with a straight spine

  2. Set your Breather Fit resistance dials to 1 for the inhale and exhale

  3. Hold the Breather in one hand and place the mouthpiece gently between your lips (do not bite down on it)

  4. Inhale slowly focusing on pulling air into your belly, ribs and lower back, filling your torso like a cylinder. This will help you activate and strengthen the diaphragm, your primary breathing muscle

  5. Keep your neck, face and shoulder muscles relaxed as you inhale. Watch yourself in  the mirror or film yourself to see if those secondary breathing muscles tense up during the inhale

  6. Exhale slowly pushing from the belly and abdomen, focusing on driving your navel towards your spine and contracting the “cylinder” on all sides (think of a soda can or bottle being crushed in the center)

  7. Maintain good body position with your spine straight and be sure not to puff up your cheeks as you exhale

  8. Repeat this pattern for 10 breaths keeping a sharp focus on your breathing mechanics during the entire set

  9. Take your time establishing the right mechanics, breathing at any pace necessary to relax the face, shoulders and neck while driving the breath from your abdomen

  10. Once you have solid mechanics, perform 10 reps of this same pattern using a 1-2 second inhale and 1-2 second exhale

  11. After 10 reps, rest 60 seconds

  12. Repeat this process for a total of 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Calculating & Progressing Resistance

  1. If you can complete all 30 repetitions without struggling, using secondary breathing muscles (neck, shoulders, face), or feeling light headed, you can increase the resistance in the next session

  2. Since fatigue can set in on set 2 or 3, perform all 3 sets of 10 repetitions before deciding to increase resistance

  3. Continue to adjust resistance on either side of the breath appropriately until you feel it is challenging - feels like a 7 or 8 out of 10, to complete all 30 repetitions. This is your training load (*Note- resistance may be different on inhale or exhale)

  4. Perform this routine a MINIMUM of once per day, preferably in the morning. Ideally this training should be performed twice per day, morning and afternoon or evening.

  5. Continue to add resistance as your body adapts

  6. Once resistance has reached 5 or 6 on the dials, increase the volume by adding sets (up to 5 sets of 10 per session)

  7. If you have been performing 5 sets of 10 reps, at high resistance, twice per day for at least 10-14 days you are ready to move to Advanced Respiratory Muscle Training

Protocol 2: Preworkout routine

Use this routine before your workout to activate and warm-up the respiratory muscles and take the respiratory system through a full range of breathing variability in preparation for the upcoming training. This will also work to establish, train and reinforce a strong mind-body connection, hardwiring the pathways between the brain and respiratory muscles.

  1. Begin with your Breather on a slightly lower resistance than you use for RMT (down 1 or 2 points on the dials) 

  2. Get into a good breathing position, preferably seated with the spine tall, and hold the breather into your mouth with one hand

  3. Take 4 full breaths, focusing on filling the lungs as much as possible then emptying the lungs completely

  4. Take 4 short and fast breaths (driven from the diaphragm) focusing on speed and power

  5. Take a big full inhale and hold your breath for 10-30 seconds to allow blood gases to restore

  6. Return to nasal breathing and go into your warm-up or your workout

Protocol 3: Mental Reset (switch breath)

The mental reset protocol will help your mind (and body) transition from activities of varied intensity or focus. Perhaps shifting out of work mode and transitioning to home life, or transitioning from a high energy presentation back to desk work, whatever the situation, this protocol will bring forced mindfulness to the breath and create the “switch” necessary to enhance performance in every activity.

  1. Begin with your Breather Fit on a moderate resistance (adjust dials 1 or 2 points below your RMT resistance)

  2. Perform 5 slow breaths focused on what you just did

  3. Think about the previous activity, targets missed, objectives completed, tasks needed to be done, any thoughts left over from that activity. Focus on putting all of those thoughts away into a box to be taken out next time

  4. Perform 5 more slow breaths focused on what you are about to do

  5. Set your intentions for the energy, focus, attitude, and mindset you will bring into this next activity. Who is the person you need to be in order to perform this next duty at maximum effectiveness?

  6. Return to nasal breathing and move on to the next activity ready to dominate

Protocol 4: Bedtime routine

Breathing can be a remote control to your mind and nervous system, allowing you to access a new level of calm and relaxation for better sleep. The way you breathe during sleep is also critical to your sleep quality as well as your overall health and performance. This bedtime routine will establish and reinforce proper breathing to be carried over into sleep.

  1. Place your Breather resistance dials 1-2 points below your RMT resistance

  2. Lie down (face up) with your knees bent and feet flat holding the breather gently between your lips

  3. Inhale for approximately 3-4 seconds

  4. Exhale for approximately 4-5 seconds

  5. This is an approximate count, it does not have to be perfect. The counting will help bring mindfulness to the breath

  6. The breath should feel natural yet slightly slower than your normal pattern

  7. Take 4 breaths with this pattern through the Breather

  8. Immediately remove the Breather, switch to all nasal breathing and continue to same pattern

  9. Perform this same pattern for 4 more breaths nasal only without the Breather

  10. Return to light nasal breathing and go to sleep

Protocol 5: Advanced Respiratory muscle training

Once you have been performing the RMT exercises twice per day at a high threshold (5 or 6 resistance) for 5 sets of 10 repetitions for 10-14 days, you can begin adding the Advanced RMT protocol. This protocol will continue to build the strength, endurance, and power of the respiratory system to carry over into higher intensity exercise or sports. (*Note- RMT protocol will have all the same benefits so do not skip ahead too quickly, the Advanced RMT is to continue improving once results have plateaued from the basic RMT)

Perform each protocol once per day. These can be performed first thing in the morning, before a workout, or anytime throughout the day. All mechanics and instructions from the basic RMT protocol apply here.

Strength & Endurance: 

5 sets x 10 reps with hard and full inhales and exhales. Very similar to basic RMT with more force and intent. Rest 60 seconds between sets

Speed & Power:

5 sets x 5 reps with short, fast, and hard inhales and exhales. Think of speed and power training, the breaths will not be full but short and intense. Each full breath cycle (inhale and exhale) should last about 1 second. Rest 60 seconds between sets.

The Breather Fit is available now in the XPT Life store.

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