Respiratory muscle endurance after training in athletes and non-athletes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Phys Ther Sport. 2016 Jan;17:76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Aug 13.


The objectives of this systematic review was to evaluate the effects of respiratory muscle training (RMT) on respiratory muscle endurance (RME) and to determine the RME test that demonstrates the most consistent changes after RMT. Electronic searches were conducted in EMBASE, MEDLINE, COCHRANE CENTRAL, CINHAL and SPORTDiscus. The PEDro scale was used for quality assessment and meta-analysis were performed to compare effect sizes of different RME tests. Twenty studies met the inclusion criteria. Isocapnic hyperpnea training was performed in 40% of the studies. Meta-analysis showed that RMT improves RME in athletes (P = 0.0007) and non-athletes (P = 0.001). Subgroup analysis showed differences among tests; maximal sustainable ventilatory capacity (MSVC) and maximal sustainable threshold loading tests demonstrated significant improvement after RMT (P = 0.007; P = 0.003 respectively) compared to the maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) (P = 0.11) in athletes whereas significant improvement after RMT was only shown by MSVC in non-athletes. The effect size of MSVC was greater compared to MVV in studies that performed both tests. The meta-analysis results provide evidence that RMT improves RME in athletes and non-athletes and MSVC test that examine endurance over several minutes are more sensitive to improvement after RMT.

Keywords: Breathing exercises; Maximal voluntary ventilation; Pulmonary function test; Respiratory muscles.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Breathing Exercises / methods*
  • Humans
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*