European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 94, Issue 5–6, pp 527–540 | Cite as

Effects of concurrent inspiratory and expiratory muscle training on respiratory and exercise performance in competitive swimmers

  • Gregory D. WellsEmail author
  • Michael Plyley
  • Scott Thomas
  • Len Goodman
  • James Duffin
Original Article


The efficiency of the respiratory system presents significant limitations on the body’s ability to perform exercise due to the effects of the increased work of breathing, respiratory muscle fatigue, and dyspnoea. Respiratory muscle training is an intervention that may be able to address these limitations, but the impact of respiratory muscle training on exercise performance remains controversial. Therefore, in this study we evaluated the effects of a 12-week (10 sessions week−1) concurrent inspiratory and expiratory muscle training (CRMT) program in 34 adolescent competitive swimmers. The CRMT program consisted of 6 weeks during which the experimental group (E, n=17) performed CRMT and the sham group (S, n=17) performed sham CRMT, followed by 6 weeks when the E and S groups performed CRMT of differing intensities. CRMT training resulted in a significant improvement in forced inspiratory volume in 1 s (FIV1.0) (P=0.050) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1.0) (P=0.045) in the E group, which exceeded the S group’s results. Significant improvements in pulmonary function, breathing power, and chemoreflex ventilation threshold were observed in both groups, and there was a trend toward an improvement in swimming critical speed after 12 weeks of training (P=0.08). We concluded that although swim training results in attenuation of the ventilatory response to hypercapnia and in improvements in pulmonary function and sustainable breathing power, supplemental respiratory muscle training has no additional effect except on dynamic pulmonary function variables.


Muscle Respiratory Training Chemoreflex Pulmonary function 



We would like to thank the members of the Respiratory Research Group in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto for their helpful comments, and C. Goia at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, for her help with the statistical analysis. We are grateful for the funding provided by the Ontario Thoracic Society. G. Wells was supported in part by the Petro-Canada Olympic Torch Scholarship and the University of Toronto Open Fellowship. We would also like to thank the following swim clubs for their participation: Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Milton, and Oakville. We also thank Adidas Solomon Canada Inc. for their donation of swimming equipment, Polar Inc. for assistance with the heart rate monitors, and PowerLung Inc. for donating the PowerLung training devices that the athletes used in this study. B. Bauer provided valuable editorial comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory D. Wells
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • Michael Plyley
    • 3
    • 5
  • Scott Thomas
    • 3
  • Len Goodman
    • 4
  • James Duffin
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate Department of Exercise SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Departments of Anaesthesia and PhysiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of Physical Education and HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental MedicineDownsviewCanada
  5. 5.Faculty of Applied Health SciencesBrock UniversitySt. Catharine’sCanada
  6. 6.Division of Respiratory MedicineThe Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada

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