I've been an athlete for most my life. I've played soccer
since I was five years old and only stopped playing competitively
since I've graduated college. Over the last year I've seen a
gradual decrease in my VO2max, which is expected. However I would
like to stay physically fit and keep my VO2max as high as possible
without having to running 3-5 miles a day like I did during soccer
practice. I've noticed that there is a product called PowerLung
which provides resistance training for your lungs. I was curious
if this product was useful for improving your VO2max? And if
so how much gain could you expect?
The independent scientific
literature from peer refereed journals seem to be mixed, at best,
in reporting the efficacy of inspiratory muscle training.
Medline abstract links:
Understand these studies were adding inspiratory muscle training
to their normal aerobic conditioning training program.
VO2 max used to be though of as being determined of almost
entirely by the conditioning of the heart and lung. Actually,
VO2 max has both central and peripheral factors. The 13 fold
increase in whole body VO2 max is accomplished by 3 major responses:
This peripheral adaptation is specific to
the muscles used in the activity we are attempting to accentuate,
or in your case, maintain. For example, by swimming, you would
not be very effective in maintaining your VO2 for running since
you would be training different muscles in a different fashion
than you are when you are running.
With several weeks of aerobic training, VO2 max can increase
from 20% to 40%. While cardiac output and peripheral transport
of oxygen increase, neither pulmonary gas exchange, nor ventilatory
capacity vary that much from pretraining values in terms of oxygen
Certainly, inspiratory muscle training would not be a substitute
to your normal cardio conditioning. You may want to reexamine
the objectives behind your cardio
goals. For example, if your goal is to maintain your health,
you may easily achieve this goal by far less training as you
were required to do when you were an athlete. If this were the
case, perhaps you could consider brisk walking, cycling, or even
certain other recreational sports to reach your objective.
On the other hand, if you are attempting to maintain sports
performance for soccer, you may be better off customizing your
running program to be more sports specific. Consider the type
of running you actually performing when you play soccer. Tailor
your workouts accordingly. Perform sprints with similar speeds
and work / rest ratios. During alternative workouts, perform
sprints and agility drills with greater intensity and longer
rests between bouts. Finally, include a long run workout only
once a week or perform some sort of fartlek training. See Sports Conditioning Program.
In addition, include a flexibility and a muscular conditioning
component to your program. Periodize your program and certainly
consider cross-training as a supplement, but not a replacement
to your sports specific training.
Wagner, PD, (1991) Central and peripheral aspects of oxygen
transport and adaptations with exercise, Sports Medicine, 11