- How to warm-up your body from the inside out
- Train With Hill Climbing & Power Breathing
- Recovery steps with Alternate Nostril Breathing
We learned the answer to this question in elementary school. So, I'm going to test your memory. What's the fastest animal on the planet? YES, the Cheetah. Now, you may not remember some of these fun facts so here goes. The respiratory system of a Cheetah plays a large role in its' ability to be the fastest land animal on the planet. The nostrils' sinuses of a Cheetah are larger than any other cat which allows for maximum air flow to enter their nostrils to support their oversized lungs and distribute oxygen-rich blood to the heart and muscles for increased energy while pursuing its' prey. The Cheetah can reach speeds of 75 miles per hour and its' respiratory rate climbs from 60 to 150 breaths per minute which is twice the rate of humans. Their high speeds can be maintained for 400-800 meters before exhaustion sets in.
Being able to accelerate quickly and powerfully is a skill that should be developed in most athletes and athletic training. In the fitness and personal training realm, high intensity classes and training techniques have grown in popularity. There are several different ways to train for acceleration but I'm going to give you an example of one system you can start to use with your clients or in your classes starting now. Not only will you notice an increase in performance, you clients will "feel" better and have more energy after their workouts.
Warm-Up From The Inside Out
In previous articles, I've talked about how important it is to warm-up the body through the respiratory and digestive systems with nasal breathing. Our digestive function is responsible for the removal of wastes and excessive inflammation, as well as the absorption of nutrients. It also plays a role in determining our energy source i.e., burning fats or sugars to account for the energy demand. And like the Cheetah, we can train our respiratory system for optimal oxygen-rich blood flow to make its'; way to our skeletal and musculoskeletal systems for maximum output at the moment it's needed.
Junk miles to warm-up only destroys the skeletal & musculoskeletal system. Let's save those systems for when they're really needed in whatever activity or sport you're training for or enjoying in your fitness routines. "The body is designed so the muscles responsible for breathing and the heart will take priority for oxygenated blood over limb muscles, meaning the rest of the body, legs and arms; will be the first to 'go' causing premature fatigue" (1).
To warm-up, we're going to use a technique called 4-Part Breathing. This technique involves brief retentions of holding the breath in and holding the breath out. We do this in an effort to create more power from the muscles of inhale and exhale.
Imagine the inhale as your intention and the exhale the manifestation of the intention. On the inhale, see the goal. On the exhale, make it happen! During the retentions, visually see the movement coming in the hill training. Mindfully see the movement of bones moving first, muscles moving second and the movement happening from the solar plexus; the center point below the naval and diaphragm muscle. Not only are we warming the body up, we're creating introversion. We're establishing the mental aspect of the training.
Hill Training with Power Breathing
By its' very nature, exercise creates acidity. Acidity creates fatigue and inhibits glycolysis, the process by which most energy is generated under anaerobic conditions. Oxidation neutralizes acidity and nasal breathing is better at oxidation than mouth breathing (2).
Power Breathing is a technique to use to rapidly oxygenate the mind and body (3). Because large amounts of oxygen are not readily stored in fast-twitch muscles, rapid respiration is required for a high-intensity output of activity. In addition, power breathing energizes the body and helps bring clarity to the mind. It increases our digestive power and metabolism (4).
Hill training is a great technique because it puts the athlete in the proper acceleration body mechanics naturally. Combine power breathing, which is a rapid nasal inhale & exhale, and putting the body in its'; natural acceleration mechanics, and you've got a powerful training tool. And, you're neutralizing acidity while exercising.
Power Breathing Technique
Note: This technique should NOT be used on women who are pregnant, or people with uncontrolled hypertension, epilepsy, seizures, or panic disorder.
Recovery Steps For Sprint Training
In sprint or acceleration training, the heart rate rises quickly. This creates heat in the body as does the metabolic process as extra energy is used which raises the bodies temperature. As one's body temperature rises, performance suffers. So, we want to incorporate recovery measures to drop the heart rate quickly and cool the body.
Alternate Nostril breathing is just the cure for this. While it will feel challenging to do initially when the heart rate is high, it's amazing how quickly the heart rate comes down utilizing this technique. And, it's a cooling breathing technique because we're sending breath to both hemispheres of the brain. The exhale is a parasympathetic technique and the left nasal channel is the cooling nasal channel. So, using this technique between training sprints, is a fabulous recovery tool (5).
Alternate Nostril Breathing
We're learning a lot about the behavior and emotional component in personal training today; especially, at PTOnTheNet. The added benefit of nasal breathing in general, but specifically, alternate nostril breathing is its' relationship with the vagus nerve and heart rate variability. As described above, we're incorporating this technique to trigger a parasympathetic response (6) . The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve involved in the parasympathetic nervous system and is related to improving cardiac vagal tone and the self-regulatory aspects of the brain related to emotion. Not only do we improve HRV, we improve areas of the right brain related to the self-regulation of emotions.
Here's another fun tidbit for you. Thoroughbred race horses breathe through their nose and cross the finish line nasal breathing. Want to sprint like a Cheetah or Thoroughbred Race Horse? Nasal breathe! Discover your "life with breath". If you want to learn more about the role of nasal breathing in health and performance, Ed's new book, Life With Breath IQ + EQ = NEW YOU is now available. In addition, the videos from this article are part of Ed's distance learning breath trainings at PTOnTheNet:
- Telles, S., Nagarthna, R., Nagendra, H.R. (1994). Breathing through a particular nostril can alter metabolism and autonomic activities. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 38(2), 133-137.
- Lomax, M., McConnell, A.K. (2006). The influence of inspiratory muscle work history and specific inspiratory muscle training upon human limb muscle fatigue. The Journal of Physiology, 577(Pt 1), 445-457.
- Singh Bai, B. (2010). Effect of anulom vilom and bhastrika pranayama on the vital capacity and maximal ventilatory volume. Journal of Physical Education and Sport Management, 1(1), 11-15
- Pramanik, T., Sharma, H.O., Mishra, S., Mishra, A., Prajapati, R., & Singh, S. (2009). Immediate effect of slow pace bhastrika pranayama on blood pressure and heart rate. Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, 15(3), 293-295.
- Harada, S., Yamazaki, Y., Koda, S., Tokuyama, S. (2014). Hepatic branch vagus nerve plays a critical role in the recovery of post-ischemic glucose intolerance and mediates a neuroprotective Effect by Hypothalamic Orexin-A. PLoS ONE, 9(4), e95433.
- Porges, S.W., Doussard-Roosevelt, J.A., Maiti, A.K. (1994). Vagal tone and the physiological regulation of emotion. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(2-3), 167-186.