Effect of Moderate- or High-Intensity Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training on Maximal Inspiratory Mouth Pressure and Swimming Performance in Highly Trained Competitive Swimmers

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2022 Mar 1;17(3):343-349. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2021-0119. Epub 2021 Oct 22.


Purpose: Inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) can improve exercise performance. Increased maximal inspiratory mouth pressure (MIP) could be beneficial for swimmers to enhance their performance. This study aimed to clarify the effect of high-intensity IMST for 6 weeks on MIP and swimming performance in highly trained competitive swimmers.

Methods: Thirty male highly trained competitive swimmers were assigned to high-intensity IMST (HI; n = 10), moderate-intensity IMST (MOD; n = 10), and control (n = 10) groups. The 6-week IMST intervention comprised twice daily sessions for 6 d/wk at inspiratory pressure threshold loads equivalent to 75% MIP (HI) and 50% MIP (MOD). Before and after the intervention, MIP and swimming performance were assessed. Swimming performance was evaluated in free and controlled frequency breathing 100-m freestyle swimming time trials in a 25-m pool. For controlled frequency breathing, participants took 1 breath every 6 strokes.

Results: The MIP values after 2 and 6 weeks of IMST in the HI and MOD groups were significantly higher than those before IMST (P = .0001). The magnitudes of the MIP increases after 6 weeks of IMST did not differ between the HI (13.4% [8.7%]) and MOD (13.1% [10.1%]) groups (P = .44). The 100-m freestyle swimming times under the controlled frequency condition were significantly shorter after IMST than those before IMST in both the HI (P = .046) and MOD (P = .042) groups.

Conclusions: Inspiratory pressure threshold load equivalent to 50% MIP could be sufficient to improve MIP and swimming performance under the controlled frequency breathing condition in highly trained competitive swimmers.

Keywords: diaphragm; pimax; pulmonary function; respiratory muscle.

MeSH terms

  • Breathing Exercises
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology
  • Swimming* / physiology