How To Increase Your VO2 Max Anytime, Anywhere – Without Actually Exercising.

Affiliate Disclosure

Fitness, Podcast

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

In the article “Underground Training Tactics For Enhancing Endurance – Part 1“, I introduce you to the concept of using things like resisted, restricted and hypoxic breathing to significantly increase your oxygen utilization, your lung power, your VO2 max, and your inspiratory and expiratory muscle strength and endurance.

In that article, I mention a “PowerLung“, which is a special portable restricted breathing device that I personally use when I'm driving around in my car, watching a movie, or waiting in line at the airport as a way to squeeze in a quick lung workout. I keep the Powerlung in my bag and just pull it out whenever I know I have a chance to boost my VO2max. It seems like cheating, but I can actually exercise my lungs just about anytime, anyplace.

But how does the PowerLung thing actually work, is it proven, and can you actually increase your VO2 max without exercising?

In today's audio podcast, I interview Greg Wells, Ph.D., the Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education at the University of Toronto and Associate Scientist of Physiology and Experimental Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children.

During our interview, you'll learn:

-Which hidden muscles use over 15% of your energy needs during exercise…

-The 2 best ways to do resisted breath training…

-How your body pulls precious blood away from your arms and legs if you have weak breathing muscles…

-Why breathing in and out of a straw isn't a good idea…

-The sets and reps you should use for potent resisted breath training workout…

-How resisted breathing is different than hypoxic training…

-Why doing breath training the wrong way can increase body acidity…

-What kind of resisted breath devices to use if you have asthma or other lung issues…

-How resisted training could actually give you a six-pack abs…

-And much more!



The PowerLung

-Study: Respiratory Muscle Power Before and After Training

-White Paper: The Importance of Respiratory Muscle Training Inspiratory and Expiratory Muscles.

The Sick Kids Foundation.

Questions, comments or feedback about the Powerlung? Leave you thoughts below!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

24 thoughts on “How To Increase Your VO2 Max Anytime, Anywhere – Without Actually Exercising.

  1. Jeroen Ransijn says:

    I have participated in 2 research bike tests.

    Your VO2 max value (maximum oxygen uptake) is genetically set and you can only boost it 5-10% maximum with dedicated training.

    With that, I mean training in the right training zones were your VO2 max is taxed on.

    Your maximum oxygen uptake is 100% not much improvable even so genetically. Unless you use EPO, other enhancing drugs such as testosterone and blood transfusions that boost red blood cell count and therefore increase those values.

    Other zones as your Functional Threshold Power are much better trainable and can be brought up to your VO2 max. Some cyclists have an FTP very close to their VO2 max.

    It’s hard to believe a mask can train your VO2 max as effectively as training since your VO2 max is a zone that your body naturally does not want to train: its a highly demanding zone to train at.

    20-30 minutes for total time in that zone in a training session is hard, to say the least.

    Training your lungs is 1 thing, capacity does not mean that all the oxygen can be taken up. That is a big misunderstanding a lot of people make.

    Its about the efficiency and the genetically capacity of your body to uptake that oxygen.

  2. bobbyBees says:


    how would this device hold up against something like the training mask 2.0? (which i have thanks to you)

    im training for a firefighter v02 and have about a month to do it.

    im 40, and am trying to optimize my vo2 as much as is possible in that time! any suggestions?

    thanks in advance!


    1. I use both. They both act similarly, but I find the PowerLung to be more conducive to, for example, using in car or in more passive situations. So my opinion is that you should use both and get the best of both worlds!

      1. bobbyBees says:

        haha i think i will in the future! but my tests are on the 19th of sept so i wont likely get it in time to use or get the benefits from it. currently i wear the training mask for a while each day.

        thanks man!

  3. ketoKt says:

    On the power lung website, their own study of college cross country runners showed no improvement to VO2 Max. So was Dr. Wells' findings different?

    1. From Dr. Greg himself:

      Thanks for the question ketoKt. I found that inspiratory and expiratory training improved a measure we called critical velocity (Vcrit) in elite level swimmers. Vcrit is the swimming speed at maximum heart rate, which is similar to but not exactly the same as VO2max. The improvements were 1-3% better in the respiratory training condition over the sham condition. You can read more here:

      Another interesting study which I think demonstrates one of the best ways to use respiratory muscle training (RMT) is this one which suggests that using RMT as part of a warm-up can be beneficial for rowing performance.

      Here are 2 review articles that summarize all the research in this area to date:
      Effects of respiratory muscle training on performance in athletes: a systematic review with meta-analyses.

      Effect of respiratory muscle training on exercise performance in healthy individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

      I hope that helps.


      Greg Wells, Ph.D.

  4. studiaz1 says:


    Did you say you use your Powerlung 2 days a week? I started using mine twice a day. iIs that too much?

    1. Not at all. Check out the official Powerlung instructions –… "The recommended use is 3 sets of 10 breathing repetitions twice each day."

  5. Suki says:

    Sounds good. Already ordered one from Amazon.

  6. Mark Featherman says:

    Sounds intriguing. I kept waiting to find out how much the device increased VO2 max, but didn't hear the guest mention the actual results of his study. I didn't see it on the powerlung site either. Is there a reference somewhere I missed?

    1. I checked with Dr. Wells and he sent me the following:

      Study is here:

      Summary review for coaches is here:…

      Hope that helps.

      1. Mark Featherman says:

        Awesome, thxSent from my iPhone

  7. qngo01 says:

    Hey Ben, for serious triathletes (2:10-2:15 Oly time), which version would you recommend? The Green one or Blue one? The blue one seems like it is for a small minority of super elite.

    1. I've got the blue one. It's serious but not if you are diligent.

  8. Paul Fendler says:

    Ben….that works!

    Many thanks…

  9. Paul Fendler says:

    Brilliant show…

    I went to Powerlung,com to order a Power Lung but they do not seem to sell anything…at least in the US. They just direct you to different stores that carry the product.

  10. Mike says:

    Hey, I just ran into the same thing on 2 different sites, keep me posted!!!!

    1. You have to purchase through for the code to work.

  11. ryan armstrong says:

    seems a bit peculiar that you cannot buy the powerlung on their site. Went to the upgraded site- coupon code didn’t work there- and couldn’t even find it on a couple other website carriers…not sure if anyone else is reporting this problem but it seemed worth bringing up.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *