Episode 217 Fast Talk: Understanding and Training Your Breathing with Dr. Stephen Cheung and Steve Neal

This year I am focusing on the breath, breathwork and breath training.

My coach, Menachem Brodie, guided me here last year as breathing is a limiter for me.

I struggle with air hunger during recovery from short high intensity efforts, like surges in races or 1 min/3 min intervals during training. Particularly the first few efforts of a ride/race.

Also, when I race at altitude the first few hard efforts get me. The air hunger, especially during recovery, pushes me to negative thinking quickly and I have to recover from this as much (or more) from the physical effort.

Initially I read Patrick McKeon “Oxygen Advantage” and started breath hold work. Several months into this I raced the Tour of The Gila and experienced the benefit. I live at 2000 feet, the Gila is raced at 6-7000 feet. This is the first year I didn’t experience the panicky feeling air hunger would give me during the first hard surges each day. I looked forward to each stage rather than dreading the first few hard surges each day as I have in the past 10+ times I’ve raced the Gila.

Several weeks ago I started using a device called PowerBreathe after reading Alison McConnell’s “Breathe Strong, Perform Better”. She is mentioned in the podcast and this will give me the increased range of breath volume discussed in the podcast.

Breathwork and Breath Training works for me. It is what I look for when I add something new to my life/teaming. Asymmetric risk. The cost (risk) in terms of time/money is minimal with potentially huge benefit! I spend 10-15min/day, often incorporated into things I’m already doing (ride or walk.)


@slauson Thank you for sharing. @HVTraining is a very intelligent coach. He recorded a podcast with me a while back on respiration, it was an excellent conversation, to discuss something I have been working on for over 30 years with another believer was fun.

The books you have read are great.

The work you are doing is going to continue to help.

How long have you been using powerbreathe? Which model are you using? Are you still progressing?

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@steveneal I’m using the Blue (Medium) PowerBreathe. I’m 3 weeks into it with 2 to go before Tour of America’s Dairyland.

I’m supposed to see max benefit at 4-6 weeks with twice daily 30 max inspiration sets. I increase the resistance twice weekly. My plan is to stay at the resistance I reach to maintain inspiratory performance with 2 sets twice weekly from there.

I do the max inspiratory reps with my hands in my knees which reduces the inspiratory muscles role in posture. Plus I like that that position is very similar to the position I’m in on my bike w/ hands on hoods or tops.

3 weeks in I feel a difference in pulling air deeper into my low back and flanks with larger Tidal Volume, particularly during harder efforts. Plus as you mention in the podcast, I should see some “respirometabolic” benefit at the muscular level.



Ok just wondering I have used the K5 with myself and clients years ago, just wondering which device you were on and how you were progressing.

Keep up the great work, you won’t regret it.

If you feel you plateau at some point, there will be more information coming in the pathway about different types of breath training, and devices that work differently.

Keep us informed!

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I tune into my breathing quite a lot and now have a good understanding of how it relates to how hard I’m working. I also note when my breathing is out of line with my heart rate response which may be fatigue , underfueling, or sleep deprivation in long distance brevets. In fact I’d say my breathing is my main measure when working out my RPE.

Should these vests (or other ways) go main stream it’d be interesting to see what metrics they might throw out.

I used a PowerBreath Classic for quite a while. I got a lot better at using the device on higher levels of resistance but I noticed no difference in on-bike performance. My understanding is that it trains the inspiratory muscles but not so much the diaphragm’s endurance like the Spirotiger.

Is there anything like the Spirotiger that doesn’t cost $1000?

Are there any hacks or no-device exercises for a similar training effect?

@AJS914 Can you expand on your experience that you noticed no difference in bike performance.

As to diaphragm/inspiratory muscle endurance, using a strength 2 factory (1. training 2. practice) model, Inspiratory Muscle strengthening is accomplished thru Inspiratory Muscle strength “training” then the translation to sport (ie endurance) occurs during riding ie “practice.”

@steveneal My early experience is that I feel myself pulling air deeper into my back/flanks when I ride especially as the effort increases. My understanding is that strengthening my inspiratory muscles (particularly the diaphragm) will lead to a larger Tidal Volume thru all levels of exertion, which slows down the Breath rate. The breath rate slowing 1. lowers the amount of energy used by the respiratory system making more energy available for working muscles 2. Decreases the overall amount of dead space aerated per minute since the Breath rate is lower and the Tidal Volume is increased.

I’m a novice at Breath and Breathing, only been seriously exploring and implementing for 5 months! Looking forward to the Breath pathway!


Sadly no.

Powerbreathe - inspiratory only. This is a great place to start when people don’t have the coordination to use spiro, but I feel only the K5 with data is valuable as many think they are breathing hard, but in fact aren’t. So having breath by breath feedback on the k5 you can see if you are getting stronger, better endurance over your 30 breaths.

Airofit - inspiratory and expiratory but always under a certain load, so limited to doing high volume lower respiratory training. This is likely the best device to get you about 50-60% of the way in training your full respiratory system. The biggest difference with Spiro is you can work on volume and frequency, which is really what we need in our sports with different intensities.

Using Airofit or Powerbreathe would be like just doing sprints at the same cadence training to be an endurance cyclist, and leaving out endurance and variable cadence drills.

The only hack is to work on lowering breathing rate and depth during tempo and endurance training, counting your breathing, 3 seconds in 3 seconds out…move to 4 seconds in 3 out and so on while you ride. This will work great but needs to become a focus like our other training.

You can’t improve above threshold without a device. I have been training (respiration) for Paul Laursen from HIIT science for about 4 months now. When he started he was sure from his high intensity training he would have great respiration above threshold…but nope, same as most.

Here are his improvements on the P100 - he is shocked how much better he is feeling and we are going to re-test on the bike in a few weeks time. It was interesting to work with someone of his background of exercise physiology and coaching, to watch him just open up and try.

Here are his numbers:

First goals are to get to FEV1 (for Paul that is 4.0 so almost there) at whatever respiratory frequency, started at 24.

Now we slowly build the frequency on that volume, goal will be 50 breaths a minute, this will take time.

In order to work getting past 30 breaths a minute, you need to incorporate strength sessions (which we have done now) - this needs to be on the exhalation only in the beginning, to get stronger at breathing out, having more time to breathe in deep.

So the best hack is during endurance and tempo, don’t talk just focus on breathing the entire time. I know @ryan has tried a few things over the last week since our chat maybe he could share a few experiences so far (no device yet, that starts this coming week).

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Great stuff!

Keep working away and then eventually if you are finding this valuable, you will need to move to something that can work in and out respiration as well as volume and coordination to cover all the bases.

However, any improvement to any aspect of your breathing, which brings focus to your breathing will be beneficial!

There was just no noticeable increase in performance (FTP, Strava segments I use to benchmark my performance) so I lost interest after a while.

I just did the basic breathing intervals as recommended in the PowerBreath documentation. I wonder if the intervals are too short to develop an increase in diaphragm endurance. Maybe the PowerBreath could be used in a different fashion?

I read the studies on this stuff and the chief benefit seems to be strengthening inspiratory muscles. But if they aren’t a limiter for you then I guess you aren’t going to see an on-bike performance.

Has anyone heard of this Canadian product? I found it in my searches.

They don’t seem to be currently selling it. If you click on buy, it asks you to email them about when it will be available.


Yes I have been testing for a few months now.

The owner and one person behind the invention and I have known each other for over 25 years and had the same mentor that we learned all of the respiration from.

I will reach out tomorrow ans find out what the plans are for sales.

What country do you live in?

Thanks Steve!

I’m in the US. I gather that it would allow similar training as a Spirotiger minus the app integration?

$149CAD is certainly a better price point for someone wanting to get started.

No not really at all. All of these details will eventually come out, with demos and videos which are easier to explain the differences.

The device will take most people to a hypoxic state, which is ok when you know how to use the device properly.

You can go really easy and not go hypoxic, but I would say that training is best done on the bike at endurance and tempo.

To work hard don’t the device you need high respiration rates to move volume, and as I said most of that will be with a dropping sp02…not what we want in all respiration training sessions.

I will still get you an answer…but this is NOT a spiro/p100 replacement they do not do the same thing.

I do not have a financial relationship with either company just so you know…the only one I do have is moxy.

I have however been using the spiro since the first model, now the p100, and my mentor built all of the training for the spiro, and his son helped develop the p100…so I do have a long relationship with them, but only because I can trail all aspects with an athlete.

If you can find an old spiro…if the p100 is too steep, then I would jump on it. I used mine for over 10 years, and now my friend has it still going strong.

It doesn’t do everything the p100 does, but it is the other best, complete device on the market.

Sorry…to add…the Breathe Way Better to me is an advanced tool I use with athletes with a good respiratory system so that I can challenge then in different ways, during recovery bouts on the bike…just some max effort time trials on the BWB…but 80% of my respiratory training is done on spiro or p100.

Thanks for the info Steve!

My biggest concern with this stuff is cost. I’ve been thinking about buying a Moxy. When I look at the Moxy and Spirotiger together, it’s a $2000+ investment to play around, and try to get faster.

If I were chasing significant podiums, $2,000 would be a small price but at this point in my research I have no idea how beneficial the gadgets might be.

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Interesting that musicians seem to be tackling the same issues:

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@AJS914 here is a coupon to use with the Breathe Way Better device.

You will save 10%, they are ready for delivery.

Use SteveNealPerf2022

There will be some training ideas using the BWB in the pathway, but not right away, I will be focusing on other training first.

But if you are interested the device with come with some training information that is a great way to start.