Mo Farah is Britain’s first Olympic gold medallist in the 10,000 metres. In an event which has in recent years been dominated by Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes, Mo Farah’s achievements are outstanding. To be the best, Mo Farah has had equal the training of his African counterparts and better it. For Farah this meant uprooting his family from London and moving to Oregan in the USA to train with former American marathon runner Alberto Salazar.
Part of Mo Farah’s training regime has been the use of a breathing training device called the RespiBelt. Developed at Loughborough University, the RespiBelt provides a training load to the breathing muscles as the chest expands during respiration. Not only did the RespiBelt help to prepare Mo Farah for his 10,000 metre triumph, his American training partner Galen Rupp claimed the silver medal and also used the RespiBelt in training.
The RespiBelt is used by all of the Nike Oregon Project athletes who are coached by Alberto Salazar. The RespiBelt is set to become an essential training aid for endurance athletes as it acts like a dumbbell for the breathing muscles. As the breathing muscles become more efficient, more oxygen reaches the exercising muscles leading to an increase in endurance. With the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes having the advantage of training at altitude, the RespiBelt helps to provide athletes like Mo Farah with a similar effect adding resistance to the breathing muscles.
It is this competitive edge that has helped Mo Farah become Olympic, World and European champion in distance running. To build up resistance for the breathing muscles, the RespiBelt can be adjusted to vary the intensity for the athlete. The RespiBelt is pulled tighter around the chest to build up strength and power, while at a lower load the Respibelt helps to improve endurance.
With endurance athletes like Mo Farah, it is an important part of training to build up the strength of the breathing muscles. When resting breathing requires little effort, however as breathing effort increases during exercise, the unpleasant sensation of breathlessness begins making breathing increasingly uncomfortable and painful. Exercising with the RespiBelt provides an extra load to the breathing effort resulting in a significant training effect on the muscles. Through the use of the RespiBelt, the breathing muscles adapt and become more efficient and stronger. As seen in Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, this increase in breathing muscle strength brings about an overall improvement in athletic performance. Improvements in energy usage, movement and exercise ability are seen in athletes who have used the RespiBelt as part of their training.
The RespiBelt can be incorporated into standard strength and endurance training routines. It is recommended that blocks of training are set aside (4 week periods) to focus on developing the breathing muscles. The benefits will be seen through using the RespiBelt regularly during training sessions.