The Power of Breath 3 Breathing Methods You Need to Try Out
Reading time: 7 min

The Power of Breath: 3 Breathing Methods You Need to Try Out

Reading time: 7 min
Improve your endurance performance one breath at a time.
The Power of Breath 3 Breathing Methods You Need to Try Out

In endurance sports, where every breath can determine the outcome, mastering advanced breathing techniques offers a significant advantage. Athletes across disciplines — be it marathon running, cycling, or triathlon — are turning to breathing methods to boost their endurance, enhance performance, and surpass personal milestones.

There are dozens of breathing techniques, some more popular than others. In this blog, we will present the three most useful techniques that you can practice without expert guidance.

The Role of Breathing in Endurance Sports

Breathing is a fundamental aspect of life, just like eating and drinking. While endurance athletes are aware of the importance of proper fueling and hydration, the potential of correct breathing is still largely untapped.

Both scientific research and anecdotal evidence have shown that conscious breathing can significantly affect physical and mental performance,  leading to great improvements in athletic performance.

But the effects of these breathing techniques go beyond athletic performance, as conscious breathing after exercise helps to calm you down, subsequently recover and prepare your body for new challenges.

The Wim Hof Method

Probably the most famous technique among athletes and the general public is the Wim Hof Method, named after the Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof.

His approach involves controlled hyperventilation followed by breath-holding phases designed to increase oxygen intake, alkalize the body, and elevate energy production.

Additionally, the method incorporates cold exposure, which improves circulation, diminishes inflammation, and expedites recovery — critical factors for athletes pushing their limits.

The Wim Hof method prepares your body and mind for the set challenges. It also works if the training or competition is too stressful, so you get in the best shape as soon as possible, both physically and mentally.

The Wim Hof method also has a positive effect on your mindset — a winning mindset is critical, and this breathwork technique gets rid of all your fears, at least for the duration of the competition.

The Wim Hof MethodThe Wim Hof method is often carried out in cold environments and combined with cold plunging.

Breathing Exercise:

  1. Perform 3 rounds of 30-40 deep belly-chest inhalations followed by short exhalations.
    o No pause between inhalation and exhalation.
    o Do not exhale completely; just let it go.
    o Focus on strong, powerful inhalations and expanding your belly and chest
  2. After 30-40 deep inhalations, stop breathing after the exhalation.
    o Focus completely on your body and sensations.
    o Hold your breath for about 1-2 minutes, but do not force it. Just observe.
  3. Let it go and repeat this procedure 2 more times.


  • You may feel dizziness, lightheadedness, and tingling sensations, and that is okay.
  • Most users feel great relief and amazing sensations at the end, feeling their body completely, being at peace but also alert and focused.

Evidence of Efficacy

Recent research underscores the effectiveness of the Wim Hof Method in enhancing endurance. A study involving a specific number of participants demonstrated that athletes integrating these breathing techniques into their regimen significantly extended their time to exhaustion in high-intensity exercises compared to their peers.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, is another popular technique used by athletes worldwide.

This method emphasizes deep lung air intake using the diaphragm, maximizing oxygen exchange and aiding relaxation. It counters the limitations of shallow chest breathing, which can induce muscle tension and accelerate fatigue.

Regular practice helps athletes maintain peak performance even under stress, improving respiratory efficiency and reducing the rate of perceived effort.

Focusing on belly or diaphragmatic breathing will give you better awareness and it will avoid shallow breathing and muscle spasms in upper body parts.

Diaphragmatic BreathingDiaphragmatic breathing is usually performed lying down.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise:

  1. Find a Comfortable Position
    o Sit or lie down in a comfortable, quiet place.
    o Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen to help monitor your breathing.
  2. Round 1:
    o Inhale: Breathe deeply through your nose, expanding your diaphragm so your abdomen rises. Your chest should move very little.
    o Exhale: Exhale fully through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely.
    o Repeat this process for 20 breaths, focusing on strong, powerful inhalations and complete exhalations without pauses.
    o After the final exhalation, stop breathing and hold your breath.
    o Hold: Focus on your body's sensations. Hold your breath for 30 seconds to 1 minute, but do not force it. Just observe.
    o When you feel the urge to breathe, take a deep breath in and then exhale normally.
  3. Short Rest:
    o Take a short rest of about 30 seconds to a minute, breathing normally.
  4. Round 2:
    o Repeat the process of 20 deep diaphragmatic breaths, followed by holding your breath for 30 seconds to 1 minute after the final exhalation.
    o Focus on the sensations in your body, holding your breath without forcing it.
    o When ready, take a deep breath in and exhale normally.
  5. Short Rest:
    o Take another short rest, breathing normally for about 30 seconds to a minute.
  6. Round 3:
    o Perform the final set of 20 deep diaphragmatic breaths.
    o After the last exhalation, hold your breath for 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on your body’s sensations.
    o When you need to breathe, take a deep breath in and exhale normally.


  • It’s normal to experience dizziness, lightheadedness, and tingling sensations during the exercise.
  • By the end, you should feel a sense of relief and enhanced body awareness, along with a state of peace, alertness, and focus.

Evidence of Efficacy

A notable publication in a leading journal highlighted that athletes practicing diaphragmatic breathing saw enhancements in respiratory muscle strength and endurance. This improvement directly correlates with better performance in endurance sports like running and cycling.

Pranayama: Yogic Breath Control

Pranayama, an ancient yoga practice, offers diverse techniques, such as ujjayi (victorious breath) and kapalabhati (skull-shining breath), which enhance focus, regulate heart rate, and promote a mental state conducive to optimal performance.

Its benefits extend beyond the physical, aiding athletes in overcoming the mental challenges of long-distance competitions.

Regular practice of Kapalabhati can significantly improve your training or competition efficiency and give you fresh energy, which helps you let go of fears and other doubts.

Pranayama: Yogic Breath ControlPranayama is performed in a straightened position.

Kapalabhati Breathing Exercise (Breath of Fire):

  1. Find a Comfortable Position:
    o Sit in a comfortable, upright position with your spine straight. You can sit cross-legged on the floor or on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
    o Place your hands on your knees, palms facing upward or in a mudra of your choice.
  2. Preparation:
    o Take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
    o Focus on your breath and relax your body.
  3. Active Exhalations:
    o Inhale: Take a deep, passive breath in through your nose, allowing your lungs to fill naturally.
    o Exhale: Perform 20-40 rapid, forceful exhalations through your nose, pulling your navel in toward your spine with each exhale. The inhalations will occur passively in between the forceful exhalations.
    o Focus on the exhalation being active and powerful, while the inhalation is passive and automatic.
    o Continue this rhythm of active exhalations and passive inhalations for 20-40 breaths.
  4. Breath Hold and Bandha Activation:
    o After the final exhalation, take a deep breath in and then exhale completely.
    o Hold: Hold your breath for 20-40 seconds.
    o While holding your breath, activate the bandhas (energy locks):
    Mula Bandha (Root Lock): Contract the muscles of your pelvic floor and hold.
    Uddiyana Bandha (Abdominal Lock): Pull your navel inward and upward, lifting the diaphragm.
    Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock): Tuck your chin slightly toward your chest.
    o Maintain the bandhas as long as comfortable during the breath hold, focusing on the sensations in your body.
  5. Release
    o When you need to breathe, release the bandhas and take a deep, slow breath in.
    o Exhale gently and return to normal breathing.
  6. Rest
    o Take a short rest, breathing normally for about 30 seconds to a minute.
  7. Repeat
    o Repeat the process for 2-3 rounds as desired, starting with the active exhalations, followed by the breath hold and bandha activation.


  • It is normal to experience sensations of lightheadedness, warmth, or tingling during the exercise.
  • By the end, you should feel energized and focused, with a heightened sense of awareness and clarity.

Evidence of Efficacy

Investigations into pranayama's effects reveal significant benefits in the physical and psychological realms. Regular practitioners report better control over breathing during strenuous activities and a notable reduction in stress and anxiety levels, showcasing pranayama's dual advantages for endurance athletes.


Breathing techniques represent a powerful resource for endurance athletes aiming to elevate their performance.

The effects are felt both physically and mentally. Therefore, they are particularly useful before major sporting challenges, but daily use also has long-lasting positive effects.

The Wim Hof Method, diaphragmatic breathing, and pranayama can be used separately to drastically enhance oxygen intake, boost relaxation, and improve mental resilience. You can also combine the three to get the full effects of each.

As these practices become more integral to training regimes, they open up limitless possibilities for athletes striving to reach new heights — one breath at a time.

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