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The Science Behind AIRWAAV: Can a Mouthpiece Make You Stronger?


Would you believe that your strength and performance could improve simply through the use of a mouthpiece? More specifically, the AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece?

Perhaps being the preferred piece of equipment for many elite athletes in strength sports, including four-time Fittest Man on Earth® Rich Froning, 2021 Canada’s Strongest Woman champion Samantha Belliveau, 2022 Canada’s Strongest Man champion Maxime Boudreault, and 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic champion Mitchell Hooper, could convince you. If that’s not enough, then maybe the mountain of peer-reviewed research detailing the performance benefits of a mouthpiece could sway you.

That’s what we will dive into below; what the science says about the use of a mouthpiece for improved performance and why AIRWAAV should be added to your training arsenal.

AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece

AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece

The Official Mouthpiece of the 2023 World Strongest Man, this performance mouthpiece is custom-built to fit an athlete’s mouth and enables better breathing via controlled tongue placement. It is ideal for competitive athletes looking to improve their performance and speed up their recovery.

What Is AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece?

According to its website, the AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece is a custom-fitted device that trains the position of the tongue “to perfect the most efficient way of opening the airway and optimizing performance.” By adjusting the position of the jaw and the tongue, breathing is made more natural and efficient to improve performance.

Performance Benefits

It isn’t a secret that a custom-fitted mouthpiece improves performance, but why? The answer is a combination of subtle effects it has on airflow and how the body responds as a result. Below are some of the most notable performance benefits:

Improved Airflow

This is not just promotional speech on a website, it’s backed by science. The Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry determined through the use of CT scans of the cross-sectional area of the oropharynx that “a significant difference in mean width and an increase in mean diameter with a mouthpiece” — mean width improved over two millimeters and mean diameter improved by nearly a millimeter. (1)

Better Endurance

That additional space for improved airflow when breathing significantly affects how the body fatigues. Lactate levels with a mouthpiece are 0.86 mmol/L lower than without one, leading to improved endurance. A study in Military Medicine found that the use of a mouthpiece improved run times, anaerobic endurance runs, and leg press, likely due to “better jaw alignment and/or decreased resistance to airflow.” (2

Lactate was cited to be 13 percent lower post resistance training with additional research citing a 29 percent cortisol levels 10 minutes post and 39 percent lower 30 minutes post resistance exercise with a lower mouthpiece. This suggests that for “those who take part in strenuous anaerobic exercise, this improvement in lactate and cortisol could benefit recovery mechanisms which would then improve subsequent training sessions.”(4)

Oxygen consumption over time is improved during an aerobic activity like running for those who use a custom-fitted mouthpiece compared to those who don’t. Dental Traumatology found soccer players had “better results in the VO2 and aerobic capacity tests” while wearing a mouthpiece. (5)(6

Increased Strength and Power

While a custom-fitted mouthpiece that improves the positioning of the tongue for better airflow improves strength and performance, it isn’t the only aspect of the mouthpiece’s benefits. The clenching of the jaw can also improve strength and power.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research deemed it “advisable to use a customized bite-aligning mouthpiece” as they found that doing so improved maximal isometric force and countermovement vertical jump. The “jaw-repositioning” from the use of a bite-aligned mouthpiece might have an “ergogenic effect on performance.” These are the results found from the use of a mouthpiece: (5)(6)

13 percent improvement in upper airway volume
10 percent improvement in upper airway width
Seven percent improvement in ventilation
Five percent improvement in maximal aerobic power
Four percent improvement in time to exhaustion
Three percent improvement in vertical jump
Two percent improvement in the broad jump
Four percent decrease in 20-meter sprint time
Two percent decrease in 40-meter sprint time

In addition to these kinds of athletic improvements, a custom-fitted mouthpiece could also improve mindset. When performing submaximal lifts, General Dentistry found that those who wore a mouthpiece “perceived that they were stronger and were less encumbered.” (7)

Mouthpieces can even benefit those athletes whose competitive outlet doesn’t involve heavy cardio or strength components. The “occlusion stability that results from…mouthguards is thought to increase” rotational speed and power, such as”the club head speed and driving distance in professional golf players.” (8)

Improved Reaction Time

Improved reaction time could lead to better overall performance in competitive endeavors. Fortunately, athletes who adopt the use of a custom-fitted mouthpiece are likely to see improvements in visual and auditory reaction times.

Thirty-four participants were tested across 40 trials to measure visual and auditory reaction times when using a mouthpiece versus foregoing it. The group that used a mouthpiece saw visual reaction times improve by over eight milliseconds and improved auditory reaction times by two milliseconds. (9)

In a competition like CrossFit or pretty much any sport where milliseconds make the difference, using a custom-fitted mouthpiece is a performance upgrade. Notably, “custom-made mouthguards offer better results in cardiopulmonary parameters and force-velocity measurements” compared to their bite-and-boil counterparts. (10)

What Elite Athletes Say About AIRWAAV

There are many elite athletes who reap the benefits of AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece. Four-time Fittest Man on Earth® Rich Froning is among the most notable of them and values how AIRWAAV brings awareness to his breathing. Maintaining better breathing and, therefore, heart rate is critical for recovery, and the use of a mouthpiece has been shown to decrease respiratory rate during exercise. (11)

Froning isn’t the only elite CrossFit competitor to utilize AIRWAAV. Their roster of athletes who take advantage of the benefits of a custom-fitted mouthpiece also includes three-time Fittest Teen on Earth® Dallin Pepper, two-time CrossFit Games Team competitor Christian Harris, CrossFit Games Individual athletes Danielle Brandon and Emma Cary, and 2020 CrossFit Games runner-up Samuel Kwant.

2023 Arnold Classic Champion Mitchell Hooper, who is one of the favorites to potentially dethrone two-time reigning World’s Strongest Man champion Tom Stoltman in 2023, considers AIRWAAV “the future of strength sports.” He found his lifts across many events, including the deadlift and overhead press, noticeably improved once he incorporated AIRWAAV.

2021 Canada’s Strongest Woman Samantha Belliveau and 2022 Canada’s Strongest Man Maxime Boudreault are both advocates for the benefits the AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece offers. Here they are in a video below learning about why a mouthpiece is so valuable for performance from orthopedic specialist Dr. Mike Dixey:

Dixey explains the asymmetries that are inherent to the body’s natural design: the right lung is larger than the left lung to make room for the heart, the liver is situated on the right side of the torso, the right half of the diaphragm is bigger than the left. This means there is naturally “more volume weight” on the right side of the body. To offset this imbalance, the body compensates by making subtle shifts to the left that can affect one’s lifts.

According to Dixey, using a mouthpiece helps correct those asymmetries by creating a “symmetrical bite pattern” to the jaw down and forward. When lifting heavy weights, the asymmetrical load is exacerbated, which can lead to poorer performance and potential injury. Since “body symmetry and physical strength are correlated,” a mouthpiece can help lower that exacerbation back to a manageable range that doesn’t hinder performance. (12)

Ride the AIRWAAV

Can a mouthpiece make you stronger? Unless experts, elite athletes, and researchers are all somehow wrong, the answer is yes. AIRWAAV has two Performance Mouthpieces available: Endurance — designed for athletes aiming to sustain their stamina for extended bouts of exercise — and HIIT — for athletes upping their training intensity to score new personal bests.

AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece

AIRWAAV Performance Mouthpiece

The Official Mouthpiece of the 2023 World Strongest Man, this performance mouthpiece is custom-built to fit an athlete’s mouth and enables better breathing via controlled tongue placement. It is ideal for competitive athletes looking to improve their performance and speed up their recovery.


Garner, D. P., & McDivitt, E. (2009). Effects of mouthpiece use on airway openings and lactate levels in healthy college males. Compendium of continuing education in dentistry (Jamesburg, N.J. : 1995), 30 Spec No 2, 9–13.
Zupan, M. F., Bullinger, D. L., Buffington, B., Koch, C., Parker, S., Fragleasso, S., Fogg, T., & Rasmussen-Woerner, S. (2018). Physiological Effects of Wearing Athletic Mouth Pieces While Performing Various Exercises. Military medicine, 183(suppl_1), 510–515.
Garner, D.P., Dudgeon, W.D., and McDivitt, E. (2011). The effects of mouthpiece use on cortisol levels during an intense bout of resistance exercise. J Strength Cond, 25(10):2866-2871 –
Dudgeon, W.D., Buchanan, L.A., Strickland, A.E., Scheett, T.P., and Garner, D.P. (2017). Mouthpiece use during heavy resistance exercise affects serum cortisol and lactate. Cogent Med 4 DOI: 1403728 –
Garner, D. P., Dudgeon, W. D., Scheett, T. P., & McDivitt, E. J. (2011). The effects of mouthpiece use on gas exchange parameters during steady-state exercise in college-aged men and women. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939), 142(9), 1041–1047.
Queiróz, A. F., de Brito, R. B., Jr, Ramacciato, J. C., Motta, R. H., & Flório, F. M. (2013). Influence of mouthguards on the physical performance of soccer players. Dental traumatology : official publication of International Association for Dental Traumatology, 29(6), 450–454.
Buscà, B., Morales, J., Solana-Tramunt, M., Miró, A., & García, M. (2016). Effects of Jaw Clenching While Wearing a Customized Bite-Aligning Mouthpiece on Strength in Healthy Young Men. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 30(4), 1102–1110.
Schultz Martins, R., Girouard, P., Elliott, E., & Mekary, S. (2020). Physiological Responses of a Jaw-Repositioning Custom-Made Mouthguard on Airway and Their Effects on Athletic Performance. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 34(2), 422–429.
Gage, C. C., Huxel Bliven, K. C., Bay, R. C., Sturgill, J. S., & Park, J. H. (2015). Effects of mouthguards on vertical dimension, muscle activation, and athlete preference: a prospective cross-sectional study. General dentistry, 63(6), 48–55.
Pae, A., Yoo, R. K., Noh, K., Paek, J., & Kwon, K. R. (2013). The effects of mouthguards on the athletic ability of professional golfers. Dental traumatology : official publication of International Association for Dental Traumatology, 29(1), 47–51.
Garner, D. P., & Miskimin, J. (2009). Effects of mouthpiece use on auditory and visual reaction time in college males and females. Compendium of continuing education in dentistry (Jamesburg, N.J. : 1995), 30 Spec No 2, 14–17.
Ferreira, G. B., Guimarães, L. S., Fernandes, C. P., Dias, R. B., Coto, N. P., Antunes, L. A. A., & Antunes, L. S. (2019). Is there enough evidence that mouthguards do not affect athletic performance? A systematic literature review. International dental journal, 69(1), 25–34.
Garner D. P. (2015). Effects of various mouthpieces on respiratory physiology during steady-state exercise in college-aged subjects. General dentistry, 63(6), 30–34.
Fink, B., Weege, B., Manning, J. T., & Trivers, R. (2014). Body symmetry and physical strength in human males. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, 26(5), 697–700.

Featured image courtesy of AIRWAAV

The post The Science Behind AIRWAAV: Can a Mouthpiece Make You Stronger? appeared first on BarBend.

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