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Powerlung training

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Apr 5, 2001

I have been using the Powerlung trainer for about a year. Initially I used it twice a day as the instructions suggest, and had significant increases in my statics. I have found that consistent stretching is important to maintain the elasticity of my chest muscles. Now I use it once a day to maintain the muscle strength.
Lately I have been adding more resistance to the intake and outflow settings, however I have reached a point that I can not maintain the mouth seal with my lips on the exhales, clearly my facial muscles are not getting the work-out that my lungs are. Any suggestions?


Well, since I haven't attained that level of strength, I'm not sure what to tell you.. Although I am sure that if you are getting to this level of resistance, you are probably about as far as you could go with the device. I am curious as to what the inhale and exhale levels are set at?

Could you post them so that I can have a look see and maybe get some feedback from the US Rep on this?

I'll check back later as I am off to do some wine tasting at some of the local wineries with my wife...

HEY - it's a tough job but someone has to do it :D
Hi Cliff,

I sent a copy of the post to Carolyn Morse, who owns Powerlung,
so she might have something on this. The settings are very hard to describe, and may not be the same from model to model, but where I have trouble with the lip seal is near 2 on both settings, the 2 is still visible as are the rings.

I have done those settings - here's what I do - Instead of wrapping your lips around the outer flange, I wrap my lips around the lower ones while biting on the lower flange and purse my lips to make sure I attain a good seal. it is kind of difficult to describe, but I think you get the idea...

QUOTE by freediver48:
"I have found that consistent stretching is important to maintain the elasticity of my chest muscles. "

I'm interested in the types of stretches you use for chest muscles. I use a few that are good, but I am going stale on them and need something different. Thanks in advance for suggestions.

P.S. I could swear I saw a post on this subject, in this forum about 3 weeks ago, but cannot locate it again - perhaps that contains all the info I need if you know where it is.

I'm likely doing what you are, but here goes. I do quite a few forward bents, and back bends with a spine elongation in the middle. I do side bends with a full held breath to each side. I then do a triangle pose side stretch and hold it for 5, 10, and 15 breaths each side. I pack stretch and side bend. My usual pack stretch is 10, 20, 30 packs. This has helped a lot, in staying a bit looser.

Best wishes,

I do quite a few forward bents, and back bends with a spine elongation in the middle.

what are spine elongations? i compressed my spine at the begining of september (its still sore but getting better) and fractured a few vertabreas(sp), anyway bringing it back to normal size would be fun.(im 1/4 in shorter then before)

also.,........ for streching youre lungs you just pack them and then bend as to strech normally?

oh well
freediver48 wrote:
"I'm likely doing what you are, but here goes."

Thanks Doug, I'll try yours!

I've been doing 1) pull-overs with a very light dumbell and as large an inspiration as possible on the return, and 2) a variation of a basic yoga pose (I'd have to look up the name, but can do that easily if anyone is interested) in which you sit on the floor, place one foot on the floor on the opposite side of your outstretched leg and then twist to look behind you - I do it with some large inhalations/exhalations - seemed to work for a while. 3) several pack stretches.

I'm curious about the PowerLung . . . would you spend the money on it again knowing what you know now? I may put one on my Christmas list if everyone thinks they really work.

Hi people, I think I've seen a study that shows that the powerlung is not beneficial in the long-term, that in fact it does the opposite© "Weight training" the muscles for breathing will shorten the muscles if anything, and would demand a lot more stretching than if they were not trained with resistance, like any muscle in the body© I can't see the advantage of making these muscles more powerful: air is not heavy, and if you learn how to pack, then suction and range of motion at the top of a breath should not be an issue© Even for running and sprinting, I can't see how this could be beneficial in any significant way©
Agree? Disagree?
My best static is 6:10; if someone tells me that I'll be able to break 7 minutes using this device, then I'll consider it, but I remain skeptical©
Erik Y©

Hey Erik,

I wonder if you could find that article. What you are saying makes absolutely no sense to me. I am not suggesting that the powerlung works, rather that by strengthing muscles we don't shorten them. The more muscle fibers one has the more supple and responsive they are. Clearly there comes a point when muscle size diminishes optimum oxygen utilization for freediving which is why we tend to be a scrawny lot.

However, increased muscular elasticity only comes from muscle density. Don't confuse suppleness with elasticity. Although related, one has to do with the muscles themselves while the other reflects the functions of the connective tissues of the tendons and ligaments. It is not the weight of the air that is the factor here, it the ability to compress gases and expel them overtime that is of concern. Part of this exchange rate is the speed at which the body can assimilate gases and that is increased by having increased capillaries which also occurs in response to resistance training. The more capilliaries the more oxygen storage potential.

It is true that the powerlung was not designed for freediving. Further it is true that the powerlung does not increase lung capacity. However as most of us know, freediving is an endurance sport and capacity is capicity.

Your point about the benefits is a good one and hopefully you or someone else has some good info on this. I too have a powerlung but have used it very little so I cannot lend any personal insights other than to say that it is really hard work and not much fun - for me - my wife and kids think it is hysterical. I wonder if they get any benefit from all the laughing they do when I am sucking and blowing on my powerlung.

The spine elongations are ways to lengthen the spine using various techniques, and are good to do before any bends, but side bends in particular. I do a hip rotation technique to loosen up my back that entails having your feet shoulder width apart, your chest and stomach relaxed, back relaxed and moving from a spot just below the belly button, first to the left and then back to the right, allowing your arms to be loose and floppyfor five minutes, before doing what my Tai Chi teacher calls slow down, slow up in which you maintain your stance and let you head roll forward and continue down your spine joint by joint, until your all the way down, knees are open, allowing you to go slow down very easily. Slow up is the reverse of this slowly comming up very comfortably and easily until you are in standing position, as you naturally inhale as you come up, allow your hands to float up above your head and touch, at this point I wiggle my lower spine, it feels very good, and the imagine that from my very grounded stance I am being pulled up through my extended hands. Once this stretch is done I do a back arch, and repeat the entire sequence atleast four times before starting to side bend.

Words suck at this,

Hi again,

I believe that this is the article in question.



  • powerlung report.doc
    130.5 KB · Views: 331
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Reactions: Angus
Thanks Doug, that is the article I have.
Angus thanks for replying, I need your physiological knowledge here. My experience with heavy resistance training, running, and martial arts is that I must stretch, or I lose flexibility. I have also observed this in others who don't stretch at all or enough. I don't understand the mechanism, but I know that I have to stretch daily, or I quickly lose mobility. I do know that after around 21, our capacity to stretch ligaments and tendons diminishes severely, which is why it took me 2 years to achieve a full leg "splits" stretch 6 years ago, while 14 year old boys were kicking each other in the head after a few months of stretching:blackeye , while I had to slowly work on stretching muscles. This is what I have read in fitness mags and it seems correct, based on that. I have heard people say the muscles shorten with hard training; I don't think that's correct, but there is something to it I believe. Set me straight?
Erik Y.

While the powerlung may not everyones cup of tea, it sure has helped my diving, and my chronic lower back pain. I had had the pain periodically for years after too many years of overtaxing my back, mostly in logging and firewood gathering. The powerlung is the effect, not just lots of diving and windsurfing. I say this because when we were in Cuba this summer the pain came back, I had left it at home. To me this is like an ABA research design, N=1. At home no pain (powerlung), Cuba pain, (no powerlung), home again, no pain (powerlung). One of the problems with this design is that while it may have internal validity, it lacks external validity, since no other subjects but me were used. To obtrain external validity one requires replication. As I have suggested, the use of stretching is important with the powerlung. A year ago Glennon Ginko commented that the US team prepared for the International comps by starting powerlung training 6 weeks before the event. I did not start to see a decriment in my statics until about two months after starting training.

Best wishes,

Power is, well, power!

Stretching is important, but not to counter-act resistance training. Stretching increases range of motion and counter-acts aging. You will become stiff by being sedentary much moreso than by doing a balanced reistance training program.

The key is to do resistance training through a full range of motion and to train opposing muscle groups equally so that range of motion is not decreased through asymmetrical strengthening. And as Angus points out, it is counter-productive to gain more muscle mass than is needed for optimal performance, and that varies with the sport.

By way of example, let's consider a different sport where flexibility is very important: competitive swimming.

25 years ago, competitive swimmers were a scrawny lot also. The conventional wisdom was that resistance training reduced flexibility and made them "muscle bound." Take a look at Mark Spitz in 1976 compared to Gary Hall Jr. or Lenny Krazelburg today. Some of the college swimmers I see today look more like they belong on the wrestling team . . . until they steak past you in the water.

Swimmers today are just as lean and just as flexible, but they are using resistance training to gain power and they are more muscular. Power is an advantage to nearly all athletes, even endurance athletes.

I'm still interested to hear from those who use the PowerLung whether they think they benefit from it. If anyone has made gains using it, then stopped using it and lost what was gained, that would be a good indication that it works (if, of course, using the PowerLung were the only thing they altered in their training regimen).
lung training

howdy gents,

i've got one of these puppies sitting right here on my desk. i've only been using it for a week and only once a day. i'm not one to jump right into a full out routine.

i kinda see this training in a different way. i studied sports medicine way back when for a bit. i had worked for a physical therapist for 3yrs and i've always been into competitive sports. i completely see erik's idea of how the intercostals could take a great deal more effort to keep conditioned in flexibility. i don't see myself ever really cranking down the dials on this thing. i don't want to put that much stress on some of the targeted muscles. i'm totally assuming something here, but i think that the main antagonistic muscle group to the intercostals is the diaphragm. i think the diaphragm would be a better target to isolate instead of the intercostals. i can only see increasing the resistance to the inhalation part of the excercise.

i can imagine that w/o proper stretching while working out w/ the pwrlung, pulling in a full tank of air into your lungs would require more effort. i can also see how packing would take more effort as well. does it make sense that strengthening the diaphragm by itself might possibly give you a greater ease of "pulling breath", especially while being encapsulated in neoprene?

those are pretty much my thoughts. i still look forward to my training with this device, though. i'm just not really following the instructions. :cool:

~ anderson
The body elastic

Hello EriK,
Here a brief answer:

The ability for tendons and everything to change slows down with age, but as we have seen with brain growth, it all seems to come down to use it or lose it. In others words growth may slow down but effort stll produces results. What happens with excessive body building is that with modern training equipement and dietary supplements it is possible to build muscles faster than the tendons can adapt which requires the muscle mass to go somewhere. This results in thicker muscles of similar length. You are spot on though about stretching because if you stretch you increase the elasticity of the tendons and ligaments because that is what stretching targets (it does stretch muscles but this has minimal effects.)

In theory you could become more limber simply by stretching. The problem is that you need to keep the muscle tissue flexible also. One of the misnomers of our generation is "hard body" to denote someone who is very fit. Relaxed muscles of someone who is fit are softer than some someone who is out shape. So everything loosens up with appropriate use and training for the most part.

I think the real question here is how much muscle is too much muscle for freediving? I seriously doubt that the powerlung would allow anyone to come even close to the building muscle that would limit freediving ability. Wether it helps or not is another question.
research project

Hello Doug,

Thanks for finding that article it is quite interesting. It does suggest that the Powerlung would be helpful for free diving as it decreases respiration by amost two breathes per minute while increase the ability to ventilate. Unfortunately it is only one study and was done with a small number of people.

I could not tell from the article if the groups were matched or randomly assigned based on these measures at the beginning of the trial. If they were randomly assigned then this sample was insufficient to produce meaningful results. Further as no baseline measures were involved we have no way of knowing if these changes are significant beyond level of chance.

At best this is an interesting pilot study which suggests that the powerlung might provide a significant benefit for freediving. If other research replicates these initial findings it suggests that PowerLung training will reduce the amount of energy we use to breathe while increase the efficacy with which we can expel gases.

Another study would need to look at the comparative effects of standard aerobic and anaerobic training with and without the PowerLung. This study is insufficient to determine if the PowerLung provides a unique additional benefit to aerobic training, anaerobic training, or combined training.

You bring up another interesting notion in your N=1 research. We could construct our own N=1 design if people in this forum who have a PowerLung would be willing to participate. Between the two of us we have enough research training to set this up. With multiple Ns in an AB reverse application design, using static apnea as the baseline we could easily manage a repeated measures 2x3 ANOVA from which we could generate some reliable indicators. We could crunch these numbers over a 12 week period and control for age, sex, and weight.

Of course we would need some folks to get a powerlung who have not used them because we would need some naive subjects to determine the extinction curves. Hopefully, there are several folks out there, like myself, who has one but has never really used it. With it being an AB BA design we could loan our PowerLungs to friends during our B cycle. They wash up easily.

Those of you who have been training would start the B cycle where you would not use it but continue all your regular training while the naive users would start using it and not change their regular training routine. At the end of 4 to 6 weeks we would switch. By taking weekly static apnea measures starting with a baseline and ending with the last day we should have enough measures to get some meaningful numbers.

This is just off the top of my head Doug so let me know what you think.
Hi Angus,

This is an interesting idea, since it seems that many of the users are somewhat casual about their use. Powerlung might very well be willing to provide actuals and placebo units for the research as well. In this way all might profit. There are a number of Powerlung studies around, I just happened to have that one. Caroyn Morse, who owns Powerlung, is very keen on research and likely would welcome another study. I am currently doing three studies, and have two senior students to supervise, so I am not super keen on the idea of adding another study, but I applaud the idea and would be will to liase with Carolyn if there is sufficient interest in the group. Kirk Krack is also quite interested in this and we have talked with Caroline Morse about building in a Powerlung component to the SFU study that he is involved with.

Best wishes,


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