Who knew Bas Rutten was an inventor too!
I crossed paths with Pancrase and UFC Champion Bas Rutten a few years back when he was cornering for epic brawler Kimbo Slice.
I learned that night that Bas was interested in increasing a fighter’s lung capacity because, after Kimbo won the fight, the behemoth was laying stretched out on the mat with his chest heaving up and down like an elevator on Meth with Bas yelling “Get the Oxygen!”
As a child, Bass suffered from recurring bouts of asthma. After going through a prolonged attack that kept him in bed for a week gasping for air, he noticed afterwards that breathing during exercise came easier for him. At the age of fourteen he also saw swimmers using snorkels outside of the pool to develop their breathing. These two disparate things gave birth to the idea for the O2 Trainer.
What the O2 Trainer does in a nutshell
The O2 Trainer is a portable, multi-setting device for inspiratory (i.e., breathing in) muscle endurance training. It strengthens your lungs and diaphragm to increase your ability to inhale oxygen when you need it. Think about trying to breathe during a workout through a straw that can get smaller and smaller – and you’ll get the idea.
Why I needed the 02 Trainer
My quest for cardio improvement started relatively innocuously a few years back. After a cold day at an outdoor shooting range, I picked up a cough that lasted for about four months. After an extensive round of medical testing, I learned that I had Reactive Airway Disorder, a condition that mimics exercised induced asthma. It causes your lung fibers to secrete moisture when you breathe through your mouth during exercise.
Over the years since then, I have tried almost everything to increase my lung capacity now ravaged by this disease and my increasing baby-boomer age. From yoga to working with free divers and Russian breathing exercises, I was left feeling that I would never regain ability to take the fight into the later rounds.
“Bane” of my existence!
In my quest to find something to help my diminishing lung power, I noticed a number of MMA fighters had been using gas masks or commercial variants of these. I had some experience with them, as I had been forced to play basketball with gas masks on during previous Tactical Unit training to learn to deal with the reduced volume of oxygen and diminished peripheral vision.
I toyed with the idea of getting one of the masks but I live in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, and my favorite running paths are located beside our Parliament Buildings. After picturing myself running behind the Parliament buildings wearing a face covering that would make me look like Gotham City’s arch criminal, I decided it was not a good idea. At best it would raise eyebrows of passersby. At worst, I might get capped by a Royal Canadian Mountie.
So to keep myself safe, I quickly contacted Bas and begged him to let me have a 02 Trainer to play with. I figured if Bas had solved the riddle to increase cardio, I should definitely look into it. Perhaps the “Big Bas Man” had found the Holy Grail of Cardio.
Thirteen email updates from the US Postal Service and it arrived at my door.
Testing the 02 Trainer
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to use the device, because Bas has done your homework for you. Not only to you get an instructional booklet, Bas also has YouTube videos demonstrating how to use it.
I began by trying the O2 Trainer everywhere and doing everything with it.
I used the lower settings with larger holes during metabolic and cardio workouts when my pulse was running high and my oxygen needs were great. I used the higher settings with smaller holes when I was doing long distance work at a lower pulse rate. I was able to use these smaller holes while biking, weight lifting, running or walking.
Great for Boomers
As mentioned, I mostly use the device while at the higher settings while I was biking and speed walking. And, if you think you can’t get a workout while walking at a marching pace with the O2 Trainer you are in for a big surprise. My three mile march with the 02 Trainer features sets of stairs, inclines and hills that leaves my body bathed in sweat and my lungs crying for air. I discovered, however, that walking with device was the perfect way to work my lungs and heartrate while resting my joints.
This makes the 02 Trainer perfect for aging boomers who, like myself, after fifty years in martial arts can’t slam and jam as hard on a regular basis. With it, I didn’t have to run to get my system cranked and I could rest my brittle joints. When you are my age, you can’t count the number of fighters you know that have had their hips replaced. The 02 Trainer is perfect to use while walking as it puts your lungs into overdrive while not pounding your joints into submission by having to run.
Perfect for Fighters Too
The 02 Trainer is also perfect for young fighters who are in the peak of shape.
Because these young guys have engines running close to the injury redline, you have to be very careful as a trainer to increase their lung power without putting them on the sidelines. You don’t want your fighter to go down with a shredded muscle because you increased the intensity or load on their bodies. With the 02 Trainer, you can get the most finely tuned athlete sucking wind just by making the holes smaller and smaller.
I also discovered another slick secret about the 02 Trainer that benefits fighters. Keeping it between your teeth for extended periods builds up various muscle groups. Holding it in works the jaw muscles and every inhalation flexes the neck both of which help buffer the effects of punches. Also, the forceful exhalation of air makes you do hundreds of diaphragm/stomach flexes and mimics the contractions at the end of a strike. If that wasn’t enough, when you are really trying to suck some air in your chest expands and pulls your shoulders up and back. This works your traps, shoulders and middle back muscles which is also a plus.
Lastly, the 02 Trainer can be used right before bouts to enhance performance. Research into performance testing with competitive rowers has shown that significant improvements can be made when breathing exercises are added to a warm-up protocol. It’s like holding some weights to your hands while shadow boxing to made them feel light in the ring, but in this case weighing down your lungs before you set them to overdrive in the cage.
Recovery at Altitude
Though the 02 Trainer cannot replicate the thin air of a high altitude setting, it will make you suck in oxygen like you are working out somewhere in the clouds.
According to Bas:
Michael Kuiper (MMA fighter) came from Holland 4 days before his UFC fight in Colorado, which is a mile-high as you know, and Holland is at sea level. He beat his opponent in a very hard “conditioning” bout while never training at high altitude
Based on my two month use of the 02 Trainer, I can tell you that I have noticed phenomenal changes. A high-intensity metabolic workout that used to gas me at a lower setting is now a breeze. It is as if I don’t have any breathing restrictions. My lower paced cardio workouts are using higher and higher settings. Lastly, my lung problem seems to have been greatly reduced.
I only wished I would had access to this product decades ago.
A fifth degree jiu-jitsu black belt, instructor in four other martial arts and Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre certified police defensive tactics instructor-trainer. Mr. Kelly has written for Black Belt, Martial Arts Success and Ultimate MMA magazines. He is also the author of Dan Inosanto: The Man, the Teacher, the Artist (Paladin Press), The Thinking Officer’s Guide to Police Defensive Tactics (Charles C. Thomas Publ.) and ICEMAN: Kickboxing Legend Jean-Yves Theriault (Skelval Publ.).