The powerful exhale is essentially unknown to laypeople and even decent coaches. But it’s one of the most potent skills and athletic-performance-improving techniques which exists. The rigor of exercise, the discomfort washing through the body is an accumulation of CO2. It is not lack of O2. Put an oximeter on a person who’s gasping for breath and you find they’re still in the high 90s percentage-wise. Oxygen is mostly going to manage itself subconsciously/preconsciously. But the removal of cell waste/carbon dioxide could use a boost.
I’ve been recertifying my CPR for almost two decades. Over that time, and if I’m to understand the evolution prior, a number of recommendations have changed. On the whole, however, the trend has increasingly affirmed compressions and AEDs, NOT breaths. Why? Because the blood has 5-7 minutes of oxygen in it already, even in a non-responsive compromised person. Getting more O2 into the system is NOT as important as you think.
When we turn our attention to non-resuscitation, such as workouts, sports, exercise, we find people totally ignorant to cardio-respiratory science. They talk about the inhale. They talk about drawing in. They do not even have a clue that the exhale is the key.
People can improve performance THAT DAY when they learn that the pain is too much CO2. Blow OUT the pain. Drive OUT the discomfort. Your oximetry is already 98-100%. Nothing is going to improve with more energy lost to the inhale, especially if you aren’t removing enough volume from the lungs during expiration. Technically, what usually happens with emphasis on the inhale is that the exhale gets shallower, removing less and less CO2 while the person’s stress skyrockets, panicking, thinking they’re running out of oxygen.
In fact, anyone in youth athletics can watch this acutely time and time again. The slower athletes get slower, because the coaches don’t actually know how to train the youth to LOWER their stress. Breathing gets worse. The youth, no matter how driven, keeps trying to improve through pain tolerance, only to watch the faster athletes get significantly faster.
Likewise in adults, people will try to train “harder” through pain tolerance, which is actually an abrupt worsening of cardiorespiratory capacity. Breathing worsens. Progress halts or reverses.
Instead, people must be pushed only at a degree where they can get the CO2 out, restabilizing the system for more progress. Faster youth athletes are rewarded with more rest time, which recovers them, such that they may build more speed. The others are punished into worsening outcomes. Adults making their foray into late-in-life fitness also make this mistake. Mindlessly, they just push, gasping and choking if need be, only to get a fraction of the benefit. Getting the CO2 out isn’t even a thought, isn’t even a blip on the radar.
Getting calm and restabilizing the system is the very keystone for improvement. This hinges dearly on the capacity to get CO2 OUT. You’ll get the O2 in automatically. Weak little puffs of air on exhale won’t ever get it done. It’s the most potent breathing technique which exists; and no one is teaching it.
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