Breathing books

In a recent episode (I can’t remember exactly which one), Chad listed a few books related to proper breathing techniques. He was pretty critical of one of the books, but he didn’t say which one it was. Does anyone have a clue which of those books he didn’t like?

I am curious about the same thing. Literally just posted the below in the podcast thread. It seems like if you know something is bunk it should be named.

Curious which book cited in the podcast about breathing has been de-bunked. Chad threw some serious shade but wouldn’t name it. I am curious if it the Breath book by James Nestor. I am about a quarter of the way through it and my spider senses have been tingling. My sense is that there is some benefit here, but (as is often the case) the claims are wildy overstated.

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Let me know if you get any decent replies. He did throw some serious shade, and I figured it warranted some further detail. My thinking is that some TR users get sensitive/defensive easily when they criticize things. Maybe it was just to avoid that? I just started listening to The Oxygen Advantage, and I am getting a bit of the same feeling. Maybe in general these types of books exaggerate their benefits? Seems like the authors treat the subject as a sort of magic bullet to wellness/performance.

I don’t know whether it’s on the recommendation list of TR but breath by James Nestor is a good read.

I work through some of the techniques every now and then and have found them to be helpful (eg just breathe through your nose). Helpful to the extent that I am now comfortably doing 90% of FTP while breathing through my nose. So longer, slower and deeper breathing.

While certain benefits (if you want to call them like that) can be achieved, it hasn’t added a magical 10% to my FTP. In other words, no real quantifiable improvements on performance. Though it seems to help with stomaching stress and with recovering faster.

As many of the techniques are also part a Yoga and mediation it could simply be due to being more mindful and taking the time to relax. So yeah, correlation and causation.

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So you can work at 90 FTP just by breathing though your nose? :open_mouth:

I’m half way throught the book and started, but at the moment approx 65% FTP is hard just by nose breathing. How long did it take to train this ability?

It didn’t require much training. All I did was consciously breathing through my nose whenever I remembered. So during work, while doing chores, … you get the idea. Also I did some of the other exercises which aim at breathing less.

After some weeks I also tried it on the bike. At first it was a bit weird and I had the feeling that I would be breathing through a straw. Though that changed fairly quickly and I worked on it whenever I felt like it. Eventually I did Polar Bear +1 (and similar workouts). That was maybe four weeks down the road.

However, I don’t think there were a lot of training adaptations involved in the progress. I would chalk it down to getting used to it and having just the room for it in my nasal cavities (or whatever the name for it is). Also, I don’t use it every ride/run. Perhaps twice per week. So 2/9 or so.

The only real benefit that I see in terms of performance is sitting on the bike during a hard ride with your mates and simply having your mouth shut. It makes them think. :joy:


That thought never entered my mind :shushing_face:

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I’ve read the Oxygen Advantage. As said above, I do think the techniques have value but don’t expect a 5 or 10% bump in FTP. I also noticed that I’m naturally a nose breather already so there was no benefit from that simple change for me.

Supposedly if you did the exercises every day, day in and day out, you could naturally increase your EPO production. The studies I looked at showed a short term improvement. For sports, I could see athletes doing breath hold techniques before short events but for long distance aerobic cycling, I can’t see a benefit.

On the other hand, doing those exercises every day would probably give you a good amount of relaxation. It’s like a walking meditation.

I’m in the middle of that book. Great read so far. Has also changed my sleeping from a mouth breather to nasal breather.

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I’m in the camp that finds breathing exercises to be mostly BS with regards to athletic performance. Good for recovery though, which I think is a separate topic.

The science is simple enough. When you take a breath at sea level, the air contains 21% O2. Unless you’re holding your breath like a freediver, the exhaled air still contains about 16% O2. The urge to exhale has nothing to do with the depletion of O2 and everything to do with the buildup of CO2.

Thus the only breathing “exercises” I use are forceful exhalations during a hard effort - threshold and above - consciously timed to every other pedal stroke which also serves as a distraction. The RPE decrease is real, as CO2 levels are actually decreasing quicker this way. Forceful exhalations also help during the recovery valleys. Try it next time and watch your HR go down just a tad faster. The benefits may be small, but they’re measurable.

You are discounting the matter by a lot. Nose-breathing and subsequently higher CO2 levels (due to nitric oxide) might be beneficial for endurance athletes. So rather than working on forcefully decreasing CO2 the idea is to increase it and thus O2.

For what it’s worth my heart rate stays lower when I breathe through my nose. Quite by a lot. Something also Nestor explains in his book.

I dunno.

This really isn’t too dissimilar from the “altitude training masks” that bodybuilders tried a few years ago. Turns out they were “training high, living low”, when they should have been doing the opposite.

To each their own opinion. I can only quote what Nestor wrote and researchers have published. The evidence published suggests that nose breathing seems to be beneficial for endurance sports and overall health.

Whether the science sticks, I cannot tell. Though given the fact that we still cannot agree on which training principle is actually the best, I doubt we will answer that question for breathing any time soon.

Which ultimately leaves us to little research and lots of anecdotal evidence. Evidence that in this case dates back hundreds of years. I for my part wouldn’t discount it that easily.

Breathing for Warriors was one he recommended. I read it and added to what I knew about how mobility effects breath volume. A few exercises to build the breathing muscles. Worth the read.