The Oxygen advantage Patrick McKeown – Book review


Patrick McKeown is one of the world’s leading trainers in the Buteyko breathing method. He has used his skill set to help improve the fitness and well being of thousands, from Olympic athletes to asthmatics.


Based on research from over 300 medical papers and studies in scientific journals, the Oxygen Advantage provides easy to use techniques that have proven to reduce breathlessness, improve your sleep as well as reduce anxiety and stress.


Originally I looked at the book as a useful resource for freedivers and their training. Having read the book, although I admit the theories that are covered are really useful for a beginner moving into intermediate diver to understand, and great revision for advanced freedivers, many of the benefits of the book are for other sports people. Subjects like the Bohr effect and an overall understanding of how Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen interact in the body. It discusses Oxidative stress and free radicals and how to mop them up, and how overbreathing can reduce our tolerance to Carbon Dioxide.


The book gives many benefits. How to increase exercise intensity whilst using less effort. How to simulate high altitude training conditions to improve anaerobic and aerobic capacity, ‘you don’t have to come to a mountain, the mountain can come to you’ as Patrick explains. Particularly interesting is the ability to help stop chronic overbreathing which in turn helps to eliminate or reduce the symptoms of exercise induced asthma. There is a great section on ‘flow’ in sports and meditation / mindfulness benefits, certainly an area to get benefits for those who have never tried these techniques.

Patrick has designed a number of exercises which are based around an initial measurement called the Bolt measurement. A low score may indicate chronic overbreathing. The BOLT test is most accurate taken just after waking, you cannot influence your breathing through the night so it will be based on your breathing volume as set by your respiratory centre.


The main purpose of the Oxygen advantage is to increase red blood cell count, by practising the breath hold techniques in the book the kidneys increase production of EPO and the spleen releases red blood cells into the blood circulation. A higher concentration of red blood cells can improve your sporting performance in the following ways:


In conclusion a nicely written book with a balance of outright proven science and many real life stories of people who have directly benefited from the information contained in the book. It could incidentally help freedivers in their training by gaining health benefits, but it is not a ‘freediving training’ book per se. 

McKeown, P. (2015) The Oxygen Advantage. London. Piatkus