Respiratory muscle specific warm-up and elite swimming performance

Br J Sports Med. 2014 May;48(9):789-91. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092523. Epub 2013 Nov 1.


Background: Inspiratory muscle training has been shown to improve performance in elite swimmers, when used as part of routine training, but its use as a respiratory warm-up has yet to be investigated.

Aim: To determine the influence of inspiratory muscle exercise (IME) as a respiratory muscle warm-up in a randomised controlled cross-over trial.

Methods: A total of 15 elite swimmers were assigned to four different warm-up protocols and the effects of IME on 100 m freestyle swimming times were assessed.Each swimmer completed four different IME warm-up protocols across four separate study visits: swimming-only warm-up; swimming warm-up plus IME warm-up (2 sets of 30 breaths with a 40% maximum inspiratory mouth pressure load using the Powerbreathe inspiratory muscle trainer); swimming warm-up plus sham IME warm-up (2 sets of 30 breaths with a 15% maximum inspiratory mouth pressure load using the Powerbreathe inspiratory muscle trainer); and IME-only warm-up. Swimmers performed a series of physiological tests and scales of perception (rate of perceived exertion and dyspnoea) at three time points (pre warm-up, post warm-up and post time trial).

Results: The combined standard swimming warm-up and IME warm-up were the fastest of the four protocols with a 100 m time of 57.05 s. This was significantly faster than the IME-only warm-up (mean difference=1.18 s, 95% CI 0.44 to 1.92, p<0.01) and the swim-only warm-up (mean difference=0.62 s, 95% CI 0.001 to 1.23, p=0.05).

Conclusions: Using IME combined with a standard swimming warm-up significantly improves 100 m freestyle swimming performance in elite swimmers.

Keywords: Assessing Physical Training Modalities in Enhancing Sports Performance; Elite Performance; Respiratory; Swimming.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Vital Capacity / physiology
  • Warm-Up Exercise / physiology*
  • Young Adult