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How Our CrossFit Affiliate Implemented Nasal Breathing Into Our Workouts

August 14, 2023 by

My affiliate, Lumber Capital Athletics, has been implementing nasal breathing and effort caps on our recovery days since we opened.

However, this current training cycle one of the priorities was building sustainable erg-power, so we are currently doing more conditioning work prescribed as breathing through the nose or to be performed at a nasal cap. Here’s an example…

15:00 @ Nasal Cap
-12 Step-Ups 24/20"
-1…2…3… Shuttle Run (2x25ft=1)
Every 2:00 x 6 Sets: Strict Press
-10,9,8,7,6,5 @ Increasing Load
20:00 Bike (or) Row @ Nasal Cap

Nasal Cap: A Governor

When I write work to be performed “@ nasal cap” it means that the athlete can go as hard as they please, provided they can keep their mouth shut.

Athletes will have varying degrees of proficiency in nasal breathing, allowing some to get closer to the non-nasal breathing capacity than others.

I’m okay with this as the programmer because athletes with greater nose breathing capacity likely have greater aerobic capacity and self-regulation abilities, allowing them to really “lean in” and get a tough workout.

Athletes with less comfortability with nasal breathing will be limited to a greater degree.  And since these athletes are also likely slower to recover due to aerobic limitations, it ensures they aren’t beating themselves into the ground by the time they reach the end of the week.

It’s a way to autoregulate work, similarly to an AMRAP in the sense that everyone will get a different volume of work in that corresponds tightly with their fitness level.

Related: Programming CrossFit Classes for my Affiliate

Discovering Sustainability

Most athletes in our classes will begin to experience that anxiety-inducing feeling of suffocation when they inevitably go too fast in the beginning of the workout.  They can either (a) open their mouth, or (b) back off the pace.

If you preview previous weeks in this cycle, you notice each time nasal breathing is prescribed it is with cyclical or low-power movements (e.g. step-ups, single unders, planks, etc.).  This allows athletes to modulate their intensity (pull back pace) and still successfully breathe with their mouth closed.

This helps teach members what is -and what is not- sustainable.  It helps them understand how to pace workouts both off performance metrics (i.e. pace) and “by feel.”

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