Breathing Scale of Mastery
Scale One: Resistance
Fear or unconscious reactive breathing.
A passively inhale and hold on perceived effort
Scale Two: Force
Anger or crude breathing
Actively inhale and hold on perceived effort
Scale Three: Skill
Actively exhale on perceived effort; passive inhale on cessation of effort
Scale Four: Expertise
Passively exhale on compression, passively inhale on expansion
Scale Five: Mastery
Control pause after exhalation on activity
Scale Six: Deepen Mastery
Passively extend pause after exhalation on activity
have recently been using treadmill interval work to train my cardiovascular health as well as my Performance Breathing™ with great success. I was inspired at CST Eta to apply Performance Breathing™ to running. I wanted to improve my running, jogging, and walking skills on the treadmill, so I decided to study the breathing, movement, and structure of the typical gym person who uses that machine. I wanted to compare my skills and self-mastery with those folks. Maybe I could learn something from their performance? I noted a number of typical patterns. Here is what I observed:
Example one: The NEWBIE
I have seen many Newbies inside the gym who have never used a treadmill before, and they usually display a breath scale of one or two. If they decided to increase the speed to test out their ability and hit a speed level that is beyond their control, they instantly, on a dime, passively inhaled and held on perceived effort. As they held on to the perceived effort, they quickly tried to hit the huge emergency stop button. It was amazing to watch their transition from normal breathing when they were simply walking on the treadmill to resistance breathing when they went beyond their comfort zone. Their whole body would instantly freeze up and brace over the treadmill as they tried their best to hit the big red stop button.
Example two: The Heavy Foot Warrior
The heavy foot warrior treadmill runners are not like the Newbies. Instead of passively inhaling from surprise or fear and holding their breath from perceived effort, they actively inhale and hold on perceived effort. You do not have to look at their breathing to figure out their level of intensity or mastery -- just listen to their heavy foot on the treadmill. They make a distinctive stomping noise upon impact, especially when they actively inhale and hold on perceived effort. The active inhale and hold usually occurs on the heavy foot strike. These folks don’’t know how to absorb force and to redirect it properly throughout their structure. I wonder why they suffer from joint pains?
Example three: The Cardio Queen or King
My favorite are the cardio queens. These people are found in group fitness classes like Spin, total body conditioning, cardio kickboxing, etc. They have an intimate knowledge of every cardio machine in the gym. They actively exhale on perceived effort and passively inhale on cessation of effort. They’’re more comfortable in their form and breathing than the Newbie and the heavy foot warrior and are definitely more skillful. However, they do make noise on the treadmill, but it’’s not as loud as the heavy foot warrior. These people are without fear, and they like to move their heads, hips, and limbs while on the treadmill for the sake of skillful cardio grooving.
Example four: The Black Belt
The treadmill black belt has a calmer face, proper biomechanical skills, and passively exhales on compression, passively inhaling on expansion. These folks fall into the expertise level, or breath scale of 4. They don’’t make any noise on the treadmill, but what you do hear is their breathing. I have noticed that they tend to exhale or compress when they strike their foot on the treadmill and passively inhale on expansion. This is how I run on the treadmill. I waited for the black belts to finish running, and I asked them if they were conscious of their breathing. They told me that they learned how to breathe thanks to their coaches in high school or college. Very few seemed to have learned it on their own.
Example five: The Master
The master on the treadmill has a control pause after exhalation on activity and seems to float when running, even at levels of speed that would likely kill the average person. The intensity level is not too challenging, or else they know how to control their perceived effort.
Example six: The Guru
The Guru on the treadmill passively extends a control pause after the exhalation. These gurus know how to vary their intensity, they know their own limits, and they can focus on refining their technique.
Next time you are at the gym, pay close attention to how people breathe. A good student of CST/RMAX is mindful of his own breath as well as that of others.
Bao Tran, CST