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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Feb;96(2):731-4. Epub 2003 Sep 26.

Respiratory muscle strength training with nonrespiratory maneuvers.

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Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island/Brown University School of Medicine, Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860, USA.


The diaphragm and abdominal muscles can be recruited during nonrespiratory maneuvers. With these maneuvers, transdiaphragmatic pressures are elevated to levels that could potentially provide a strength-training stimulus. To determine whether repeated forceful nonrespiratory maneuvers strengthen the diaphragm, four healthy subjects performed sit-ups and biceps curls 3-4 days/wk for 16 wk and four subjects served as controls. The maximal transdiaphragmatic pressure was measured at baseline and after 16 wk of training. Maximum static inspiratory and expiratory mouth pressures and diaphragm thickness derived from ultrasound were measured at baseline and 8 and 16 wk. After training, there were significant increases in diaphragm thickness [2.5 +/- 0.1 to 3.2 +/- 0.1 mm (mean +/- SD) (P < 0.001)], maximal transdiaphragmatic pressure [198 +/- 21 to 256 +/- 23 cmH2O (P < 0.02)], maximum static inspiratory pressure [134 +/- 22 to 171 +/- 16 cmH2O (P < 0.002)], maximum static expiratory pressure [195 +/- 20 to 267 +/- 40 cmH2O (P < 0.002)], and maximum gastric pressure [161 +/- 5 to 212 +/- 40 cmH2O (P < 0.03)]. These parameters were unchanged in the control group. We conclude that nonrespiratory maneuvers can strengthen the inspiratory and expiratory muscles in healthy individuals. Because diaphragm thickness increased with training, the increase in maximal pressures is unlikely due to a learning effect.

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