9 Benefits Of Breath TrainingThe many benefits of breath training are reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and of course holding your breath like a Blue Whale.

Chad Schwab

3 years ago in News

Only a handful of people are aware… but when I am not producing AWESOME content for you to read, or surfing, you will find me in the local Boxing Club (I claim to be a Boxer but often get my ass kicked!)

Last night’s boxing session inspired this blog as I consider myself to be pretty fit. A few rounds in the ring changed that thought instantly as I felt like I had an invisible ‘Incredible Hulk’s hand’ inside my chest squeezing my lungs. This was  actually not a sign of being unfit but rather a lack of breathing control which in turn landed me catching a few hard hits to the head.

Eventually, I was forced to stop and catch my breath. This being possible in a sport like Boxing but in Surfing, you cannot ask the ocean to give you a few minute’s break to catch your breath!

After running the Philippines trip in August this year and completing a Surf Survival and Introduction to Free Diving Courses, I am infatuated with importance of proper breathing. I stumbled across this article about the benefits Breath Enhancement Training. Basically training, not just your lungs but your entire body through certain breath holding techniques. The training is pretty self explanatory, but thats not why i’m here today. I’m here to harp on about the benefits of it. If you’re unsure about the training. Here’s a great article about becoming a breath hold king.


So……What are the benefits?

1) To have the lung capacity of a whale

Improve the strength of the muscles involved in taking a breath. An increased lung capacity will hugely help physical abilities and effectiveness of taking a breath. This will allow a better absorption and elimination of gas. You can only imagine the benefits of this during a solid session in the surf.

2) Increase your cardio strength

Increasing cardio strength increases the ability to breathe better, especially under stress (Like a 6ft wave). The diaphragm muscle is of utmost importance to maintain a high-level of performance, in and out of the ocean.
Breath  Training can change the thickness of the Diaphragm. This means you will have a better ability of breath control when under any stress.

3) Perform better, recover faster!

Breath training places a lot of emphasis on breath control and this has an effect of creating a steady heartbeat. Controlling your breath and heartbeat allows control of the nervous system and the emotion center of the brain. This minimises energy wastage when stress is increased.  Through controlled breathing and guided mental focus (I like to make up a story in my head, like shopping for groceries or getting dressed for work.), training your breath allows the body to experience a ‘healing state’, decreasing your breathing to 1-5 cycles/minute with complete comfort. This state is known as parasympathetic state which is a must for deep recovery and feeling rejuvenated.   

4) The mental game

Besides the physical changes that takes place to allow an extended breath hold, mental strength and confidence dramatically improves, which is a fantastic attribute when dealing with surfing wipeouts, hold downs and scenarios which see you struggling for the surface.

It will also give you the advantage in sports where intermittent breath holding is necessary. I was going to say like boxing, but you are never supposed to hold your breath during a boxing match. (probably why I got so tired, lucky this is not a boxing blog 🙂 )

Breath training activates a reflex within the body known as the ‘mammalian diving reflex’. This creates a physical change which decreases oxygen consumption through reduced heart rate. Over time once this reflex has been activated you will find it being one of your best assets to extend your breath whenever the need arises.  

5) Decrease Stress

The first thing to change when under stress is breathing, as it creates a number of imbalances, in particular, the heart rate and heart bio-rhythms. Under stress, a higher heart rate results in higher brainwave activities. This significantly reduces cognitive processes, potentially resulting in anxiety and unclear thinking, ineffective memory recall, disruptive behaviour and a gradual decline in hormonal balance. B.E.T teaches the most effective ‘natural’ way to deal with stress. 

6) Increase your anaerobic threshold

Athletic performance is largely governed by anaerobic threshold  – meaning the ability to perform at a high level when your activity rate increases.

7) Handle higher levels of Carbon Dioxide 

Increasing levels of toxic carbon dioxide in the body are brought about by either physical exertion and/or mental stress and they both have an immediate effect on breathing. It can create lactic acid build up within the muscles and higher acidity within the blood. To improve our tolerance to this, components of the Breath Training rapidly increase levels of carbon dioxide over short, safe periods of time, ensuring the body can adapt and a greater tolerance results.

Ability to deal with stress whether physical or mental is greatly enhanced. Breath training will improve the way in which oxygen is released from haemoglobin as it is transported around the body and decreases the chances of excess carbon dioxide build up within the tissues, creating an acidic environment where oxygen will not be readily absorbed into the blood.

8) Increase Oxygen in the body

Practiced enough, the training will see a bunch of crazy chemical processes enhanced, which will increase the amount of oxygen available to the blood. Kinda like EPO, the doping drug Lance Armstrong took. (But in a natural, recommended way)

9) Increase your immune system

Breath Training increases oxygenation of cells and strengthening of the immune system hugely. The benefits come about in the same way that muscle strengthening comes from weight training workouts. For a moment the cells will be weakened by the training but they quickly adapt.

Many respiratory related diseases, viruses and bacteria, even the likes of cancer do not survive in a highly oxygenated body, so your susceptibility to them taking hold can be dramatically reduced.