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Article - 16 August 2011

Book Review: Breathe Strong, Perform Better by Alison McConnell

Here is a short book review I did for Triathlon Plus magazine. The book was written by Professor Alison McConnell who was my tutor during my Master's year at Brunel University. Alison guided me through a dissertation in which I studied the effects of different cycling positions on running economy off the bike. That subject necessitated a considerable background understanding of some of the problems posed by the respiratory muscles when we are hunched over aerobars. Alison was always a tower of knowledge and I have the greatest respect for her ability and research integrity. I also strongly recommend the use of an inspiratory muscle trainer (POWERbreathe) as a tool for actually improving performance in endurance sports with really quite small investments of time. This book pretty well tells everything you need to know about the area and what to do about it.

The author, Professor Alison McConnell is the world’s leading expert on breathing training. The book is a product of 20 years of scientific research into how the breathing muscles contribute to both movement and performance in sport. As is often the case, elite athletes and sports scientists were the early adopters of breathing muscle training as a time-efficient tool (5 minutes per day) for gaining a performance advantage. Yet slowly but surely, the proven science behind the technique has been filtering down to grass roots level. If the science of breathing interests you, then you will find the first part of the book fascinating. Here, the underpinning research is covered logically and accessibly although some familiarity with the science may improve the experience. However, if it is really only the practical applications you are after, then go straight to part two, where clear guidance and illustrations of the exercises and techniques make for easy understanding. Because the sports of swimming, cycling and running (together with rowing) are probably the most positively influenced by training of the breathing muscles, this book and the sport specific exercises described therein, must be essential reading to triathletes serious about improving their performance.

Performance: 5/5

Value: 4/5

Overall: 5/5

Read the previous article: Barefoot Running. Born To Run, But Since Forgotten how?

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    Professor Alison McConnell, BSc, MSc, PhD, FBASES, FACSM.
    Professor of Applied Physiology, Brunel University, UK. Author of "Breathe Strong, Perform Better"

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