How To Hold Your Breath For Four Minutes, Training Mask Myths, Performance Breathing & More With Brian Mackenzie

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Biohacking, Podcast

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

From power breathing to underwater workouts to Wim Hof-style cold water immersion to sexy Training Masks to freediving, spearfishing and beyond, it seems that performance breathwork is taking the world by storm.

In today's podcast, I take a deep dive with performance breathing expert Brian Mackenzie.

Brian is a strength and conditioning and movement expert, and creator of CrossFit Endurance (which I interviewed him about way back in podcast episode #47) He co-authored the book “Power, Speed, Endurance: A Skill Based approach to Endurance Training“, recently co-authored “Unbreakable Runner” and works with professional and elite level athletes in running, cycling, rowing, MMA, MIL/SOF, LEO, Fire/EMT, surfing, paddling, swimming, CrossFit, including Olympic Gold Medalists and World Champions.

Brian and his programs have been featured in Competitor Magazine, Runners World, Triathlete Magazine, Men's Journal, ESPN Rise, The Economist, Tim Ferriss' New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Body, Men's Running UK, LA Sport & Fitness, Muscle & Performance Magazine, and Rivera Magazine.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-The true science behind the Training Mask, and whether it actually works…

-How to use oxygen and carbon dioxide static apnea tables…

-Why so many freedivers and spearfishers are dying from shallow water blackouts…

-The uncommon restricted breath training devices Brian uses in his clinics…

-How to use hyperoxia…

-Where to start if you want to hold your breath for four minutes…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

This TrainingMask workout

The TrainingMask (use code GREEN1 for 20% discount)

The PowerLung

FINIS Swim Snorkel

TheTurbine nasal dilator

Power, Speed, Endurance book

Unbreakable Runner book

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why book

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about performance breathing? Leave your thoughts below and either Brian or I will reply!


Also published on Medium.

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30 thoughts on “How To Hold Your Breath For Four Minutes, Training Mask Myths, Performance Breathing & More With Brian Mackenzie

  1. cliff graves says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great podcast however during the interview at around 25 minutes you asked the question “what about wearing the mask during squats etc.?” I am not sure if missed the answer from Brian but he seemed to evade it and talk about getting into plank position. Sorry if I have misunderstood here but can I ask the question again. Can one train with the mask on during intense gym exercises such as : squats, bench press, deadlifts?

    Thank you for any more information

    1. Yes, you can do it, it works well, and I do quite often.

  2. Jim says:

    I can attest to breathing techniques and how they warm the body from within. I use deep breathing (warrior style) to keep warm while waiting for waves when I’m surfing. When I first tried it last winter, I was shocked to find how well it works.

  3. Attila says:

    Hi Ben! You do a fantastic job with your Podcast. I would be interested what is Brian’s personal best in static apnea using his breathing technics. Thanks. Attila

  4. Gary Daniels says:

    Typo correction “intro” not into…

  5. Gary Daniels says:

    Hey BG,

    Long time subscriber (and prescriber) first time commenter… At 56, I’ve been studying martial arts for over 40 years. Breathing and martial arts are as “one with universe” as it gets. So, I thought I knew something about conscious breathing applications until about a decade ago, when I had the great fortune of being introduced to the Hop-Gar Grandmaster – Sifu Ku – here in the Atlanta area. I have since studied Qigong in various forms under Sifu Ku and his disciples, and constantly read and study its practices. I’d say “it gives breathing a whole new meaning”.

    I personally use Qigong practice daily (yes in the sauna, and cold water therapy) and also teach it to my training clients (all athletes) to enhance performance. Loved the podcast but a bit remiss that Qigong didn’t come up in the conversation with Brian (which I will listen to several more times), and curious to what – if any – your exposure has been.

    All the best!

    1. I haven't yet tapped into Qigong for enhancing breathwork, but it's on my list!

      1. Gary Daniels says:

        Hey Ben, thanks for taking the time to respond! I am writing a monthly “coaches corner” for Next Moto Champion magazine. Next issue will be how base training helps, but more importantly a great time to focus on the basics of technique, etc. I also into into the importance of breathing, and that in the following issue (not appraised of release dates yet, but it’s online only), will cover Qigong and the benefits to training, mental focus and most appreciably longevity. Would love to discuss it with you anytime!

  6. Nick says:

    Hi Ben, love the podcast and the resources you put out to everyone- so useful and much appreciated.

    I’m just wondering if there is much point to measuring blood oxygen during a workout, these masks are there to make you Hypoxic, which is going to make life harder right? Now I’m unaware how much levels change during a typical workout but could it be beneficial to have something like the product below to measure recovery between sets- especially if you’re doing a big circuit, or want to be best recovered to get the best numbers up.
    https://amzn.to/2LYsl5J

    Keep up being awesome!

    1. Yep, I personally use a pulse oximeter when I'm doing intense hypoxia…

  7. ben says:

    Is there a code for the power lung?

      1. ben says:

        BGF025 still not working

  8. Tim says:

    This was a good podcast, but made some things clearer and some things muddier.

    For example, I use the Pranajama app to help calm me down and it works great. It does, however, include long exhalations. Are these not calming in some way?

    Wouldn’t Warrior Breathing ramp up one’s nervous system? I actually haven’t tried because I’ve been afraid it would.

  9. Orvack says:

    Ben, I’m a little dissapointed… What about using the Training Mask during sex? Pros? Cons? Brian’s take would have been fun.

    Maybe Brian could do seminars with Kim Anani… She mentions breathing quite a lot.

    Cheers.

    1. I would not subject my loved one to that. ;)

      1. Orvack says:

        Ha! Maybe with their Joker sleeve… :-O

  10. Tom says:

    “Inspiring!”

  11. Anthony says:

    Just so you know the coupon for Training mask and Power lung don’t work. May want to check with companies.

  12. Melanie Dresden says:

    Hi Ben!

    I love the information and resources you provide to improve overall health and exercise. I have tried to use the discount code GREEN1 for the training mask without success. Anymore secrets to purchase the mask? Thank you for all of your insightful knowledge!

    1. For any of you who missed out on the http://www.TrainingMask.com 20% coupon "GREEN1" from yesterday's podcast, should work now.

  13. Ben says:

    Trying to buy the mask. Coupon code is disabled

  14. Matt S says:

    What settings are you using with the elevation training mask? I have no problems going for a hike on rolling terrain with the “18k feet” setting, but doing sprints on the AirDyne are different matter…

    1. I use the hardest, highest setting. Glutton for punishment. ;)

  15. Tim Horan says:

    Ben, I know you absolutely love scientific studies that prove or disprove the benefits of various exercise protocols. Can you share any links that show that there is a benefit to these breathing masks? From what I’ve read it appears that the masks cause a marked increase in your respiratory breathing muscle strength, but shows no increase in actual oxygen consumption during endurance exercise.

    1. Listen to the podcast and read the studies I reference. It's all in the show. Also start here: http://www.trainingmask.com/the-science/

    2. Tessa Bergman says:

      Hi Ben, I listened I few times to the podcast with Brian Mackenzie because I am running on high altitude and I participate in a WHM instructor education.

      I studied next to the WHM breathing, the Buteyko breathing and try it all myself.

      Running under hypoxic conditions create acidity with all the consequences and running under hyperoxic ( inhaling more and deeper, shorter exhale) creates overbreathing, finally lowering Co2 threshold.

      What is the correct mix to run on a high altitude? How to increase your CO2 threshold during running and biking?

      Thank you very much.

      Tessa

      1. The way I do it is I set my hypoxic training unit from Hypoxico between 6K and 10K feet, and try to lower pulse ox to below 75. But that's just my personal protocol. I'd highly recommend you check these out: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/01/how-to-u…
        https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2015/08/altitude…

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