Reading Time: 3-5 mins 
Exercise Time: 5-6 mins 
 
You can read all the books, listen to all the podcasts and delve into the scientific literature all you like but the only way you are going to know if Breath Training works for you is if you experience it for yourself. In my life experience, I have come to know that Breathing really Works. Breathing can enhance performance up to 110% in just 3 minutes. I’ll prove it to you by giving you the test protocol at the end of this article. 
 
I first learned this test through Wim ‘the iceman’ Hof as I undertook my instructor training with him back in 2017, he's awesome! Wim is the world-renowned Dutch athlete who set 26 Guinness World Records. He claimed what he could do, anyone could do. He even had scientists perform research on him to prove he was right and find out how it all worked. Biology books have since been re-written because of this guy! (you can be inspired by him, like I was, by watching the VICE documentray which made him famous here
Back to the test, since learning from Wim, I’ve tried the test out on hundreds of people. Athletes, healthy people and people with disease. It’s an easy way to show you the potential benefits of breathing to enhance your strength, fitness and life. I’ve used the test on hundreds of people to date. Recently, I was training a group of men locally in Co. Louth. One guys performance improved by 110% and on average the group improved by 22% with just 3 minutes of breathing! 
 
The age of the group ranged from 35-60 years. Their training ability was low-medium. The health of the men ranged from fit and healthy to recovering from cancers, cardiovascular and gut diseases. The test was a push-up test. We performed maximum push-ups (at their own level of difficulty) before and after a simple breathing protocol. The Breathing protocol was a full and active breath for 3 minutes. Straight after the 3 minutes, the men turned over and repeated their push-ups. Out of 18 men, 14 of them improved their scores from the start of the test to the end, without any additional aids. The average improvement was 22% from their baseline scores with a range of -33% to 110% maximal push-ups performed in round two. No training, no mind games, no machines, no tricks, no placebo effect and no drugs were used; just breathing! When you consider an athlete receives a 1% performance improvement from ingesting anabolic steroids, you are looking at pretty significant improvements here! 
 
Breathing Performance Test Data 
Push ups (August 2021) 
Level 
Round 1 
Round 2 
%  
Diff. 
40 
50 
25% 
22 
22 
0% 
21 
28 
33% 
28 
44 
57% 
14 
12 
-14% 
12 
-33% 
30 
60 
100% 
10 
21 
110% 
21 
20 
-5% 
30 
35 
17% 
50 
50 
0% 
18 
20 
11% 
18 
12 
-33% 
17 
27 
59% 
48 
53 
10% 
13 
20 
54% 
25 
32 
28% 
#Participant 
↑22% performance on average after the breathing protocol. 
 
I am blown away by these results every time I see them. And it’s not just in the general population I see them, it’s also the same in high performance groups. Why? Because it’s simple physiology. The main reason our performance drops in any sport or physical activity is fatigue and the main determinants of fatigue are a build-up of heat and carbon dioxide (CO2). With this breathing protocol everybody dumps CO2 from the body and they may even cool their body too. This gives themselves a running head start on the event rather than starting cold out of the blocks. 
 
 
 
Some people do perform worse in round two. There is no hardcore data why some people do worse but I’ve developed my own theories from my coaching experience. I think the performance decrement is down to two reasons: 
 
The person is very de-conditioned to the exercise 
They have issues with their breathing system which needs to be resolved. 
 
In both cases, training will help you out. General strength training improves the conditioning to the exercise itself and specific breath training, like in BTF, improves the breathing system. In my 1-2-1 coaching practice, people who train these two elements then repeat the test always fare better in the second round. 
The protocol for the test is below. It’ll take you all of 5-6 minutes to complete with no equipment necessary. Do it now and find out the power of the breath for yourself. Then DM me on social media or leave me a comment below to let me know how you fared. 
 
Breathing Performance Protocol: 
Choose a level of push ups suitable for you (box position, from your knees or full push-up). Regardless of the push-up level you choose, you should be able to perform a minimum of ten reps. Be strict on your form and your ability. You need to push to your absolute limits in rounds one and two to test this protocol effectively. 
Perform a maximum set of push-ups, making sure you count your push ups as you perform them. Alternatively, video them or have a partner count them. Do this now. 
*Next, lie on your back, bend your knees and breathe full and active breaths for 3 minutes. In through the nose and out of the mouth. Fill the belly and chest 360° with air. Relax the rest of your body. There’s no need to rush these breaths but you do want to keep your breathing audible and active. 
After your final exhale. Turnover and perform your push ups again in the exact same fashion as the first time around. 
Did you fare better, same or worse?? 
 
*the only contra-indication to this technique is pregnancy or epilepsy. If you have any of these two conditions then do NOT perform the test. All other general exercise guidelines apply. Seek medical advice if you have any concerns. 
Tagged as: Breathing, Goals, Wim Hof
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