Why a Mouthpiece Can Mean Better Training for Lifters (Brought to You by AIRWAAV)

Use a mouthpiece to perform better in the gym and on the competition floor.

This piece is brought to you in paid partnership with AIRWAAV™. We may receive commissions on items purchased through links on this page.

There are an endless number of variables that can potentially improve or hinder your training at home or in the gym. Some are environmental, such as the size of the space or the availability of the equipment, some are learnable, such as improved form or increasing consistency, and some affect the quality of training. Of course, proper nutrition and sufficient rest can improve your workouts, but so can proper gear. (1) Specifically, a custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Research suggests that using a mouthpiece during training can increase muscle strength and endurance, particularly for lower-body power and vertical jump. (2)(3)(4) There are multiple reasons for this, including decreased respiration rate even while wearing a mask. (3)(5) So, let’s dive further into the other benefits of training with a custom mouthpiece, like The AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece.

AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece
AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece
AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece

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.

More Power

Anyone weary about whether or not a custom-fitted mouthpiece can pay any dividends in the gym can rest assured that it’s worth the time to mold one to their mouth. A custom-fitted mouthpiece has been shown to improve power, rate of power development, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and grip strength. (6)(7)

For those looking to pack on mass at the gym, slipping on a custom-fitted mouthpiece can improve performance in upper-body loaded power exercises (e.g., overhead press, incline bench press, or rows) for both men and women. A custom-fitted mouthpiece has also been shown to limit the lateral deviations of the spinal erectors during kettlebell swings to maintain better alignment through the full range of motion. (8)

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests the reasoning for these benefits is due to the phenomenon called concurrent activation potentiation (CAP). (7)

CAP promoted in jaw clenching seems to enhance the muscular strength and power in maximal isometric contractions and powerful actions in sport.”


If you’re comfortable wearing a mouthpiece aligned with your bite, then those training improvements are on the house. Custom-fitted mouthpieces are unlikely to negatively affect other performance parameters such as flexibility, balance, visual reaction time, or sprint time. (6)

Better Recovery

The research of Dena P. Garner, Ph.D., a Full Professor at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, has shown that:

Note: bolding done by BarBend editorial team for emphasis.

“We have data that the mouthpiece significantly reduces cortisol and lactate during and after exercise, therefore suggesting improvements in recovery. Other data supports these subjective improvements in recovery. We also have data to support improvements in performance with the mouthpiece, finding that an individual completes more repetitions without assistance with a mouthpiece as compared to without a mouthpiece and fewer forced repetitions.” (9)(10)

Get It Right, Get It Tight

If you plan to buy a mouthpiece, getting one fitted explicitly to your teeth is essential. A systematic review in Sports Medicine International Open found that, unlike custom mouthpieces, non-bite-aligning mouthpieces can negatively affect VO2. (11)

Additionally, Dental Traumatology found that custom-fitted mouthpieces “showed superior properties in comfort, adaptability, stability, and ability to talk and to breathe.” With specific regard to breathing, wearing a mouthpiece aligned with your bite can significantly improve your ability to expel air (known as peak expiratory flow rate). (12)(13)

The benefits of a custom-fitted mouthpiece versus a standard boil-and-bite mouthpiece are research-backed. Per Dr. Garner:

“There is research to support the importance of aligning the bite such that there is a slight shift forward with the lower jaw…and improved placement of the tongue. This creates an opening of airways and/or improvement in clenching, which has been shown to affect performance. Additionally, Japanese research shows that improved ability to clench affects cerebral blood flow.”


Dr. Garner states further that “the contraction and placement of the tongue at the base of the mouth” when using a custom-fitted mouthpiece “enhances and opens an individual’s pharyngeal area in the throat as shown in CT scans.” The AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece’s design supports a downward and forward tongue placement, which has been shown to improve respiratory rate and lactic acid reduction.

It is Dr. Garner’s opinion that The AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece “utilizes [patented Vistamaxx™, a hydrophobic fitting] material that results in superior retention as compared to the normal boil-and-bite and one does not need to go to the dentist to get a custom-fitted product.”

More active gym-goers are also likely to benefit from the protective aspects of a custom-fitted mouthpiece. While resistance training is not very likely to pose a risk to your teeth, research suggests that there is a higher prevalence of teeth indentations on the tongue and tooth abfractions — loss of tooth structure not caused by tooth decay — for those who train extensively without wearing a custom-fitted mouthpiece than those who do. (14)(15)

Take a Bite Out of Training

With the volume of research supporting the training improvements while wearing a custom-fitted mouthpiece, the opportunity cost of forgoing one could be pretty high. Science can propel your training to the next level, and something as simple as wearing The AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece in the gym improves the potential for gains both in the power rack and on the competition stage.

AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece
AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece
AIRWAAV™ Performance Mouthpiece

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.

Editor’s note: consult your dentist if you intend to wear a mouthpiece to train for or compete in contact sports to ensure your mouthpiece provides adequate protection for your needs.


  1. Beck, K. L., Thomson, J. S., Swift, R. J., & von Hurst, P. R. (2015). Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and postexercise recovery. Open access journal of sports medicine, 6, 259–267. https://doi.org/10.2147/OAJSM.S33605
  2. Garner, D. P., Dudgeon, W. D., & McDivitt, E. J. (2011). The effects of mouthpiece use on cortisol levels during an intense bout of resistance exercise. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 25(10), 2866–2871. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31820ae849
  3. Miró, A., Buscà, B., Aguilera-Castells, J., & Arboix-Alió, J. (2021). Acute Effects of Wearing Bite-Aligning Mouthguards on Muscular Strength, Power, Agility and Quickness in a Trained Population: A Systematic Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(13), 6933. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136933
  4. Buscà, B., Moreno-Doutres, D., Peña, J., Morales, J., Solana-Tramunt, M., & Aguilera-Castells, J. (2018). Effects of jaw clenching wearing customized mouthguards on agility, power and vertical jump in male high-standard basketball players. Journal of exercise science and fitness, 16(1), 5–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2017.11.001
  5. Freemas, J. A., Wilhite, D. P., Greenshields, J. T., Adamic, E. M., & Mickleborough, T. D. (2020). Comparison between a facemask and mouthpiece on breathing mechanics and gas exchange variables during high-intensity exercise. European journal of sport science, 20(2), 211–218. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2019.1628309
  6. Dunn-Lewis, C., Luk, H. Y., Comstock, B. A., Szivak, T. K., Hooper, D. R., Kupchak, B. R., Watts, A. M., Putney, B. J., Hydren, J. R., Volek, J. S., Denegar, C. R., & Kraemer, W. J. (2012). The effects of a customized over-the-counter mouth guard on neuromuscular force and power production in trained men and women. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 26(4), 1085–1093. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824b4d5b
  7. 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. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001192
  8. Lässing, J., Pökel, C., Lingener, L., Falz, R., Kwast, S., Schulze, A., & Busse, M. (2021). The Influence of Customized Mouthguards on the Muscular Activity of the Masticatory Muscles at Maximum Bite and Motor Performance During Static and Dynamic Exercises. Sports medicine – open, 7(1), 64. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-021-00354-2
  9. Garabee W. F., Jr (1981). Craniomandibular orthopedics and athletic performance in the long distance runner: a three year study. Basal facts4(3), 77–81.
  10.  W.D. Dudgeon, L.A. Buchanan, A.E. Strickland, T.P. Scheett & D.P. Garner | (2017) Mouthpiece use during heavy resistance exercise affects serum cortisol and lactate, Cogent Medicine, 4:1, 1403728, DOI: 10.1080/2331205X.2017.1403728
  11. Caneppele, T., Borges, A. B., Pereira, D. M., Fagundes, A. A., Fidalgo, T., & Maia, L. C. (2017). Mouthguard Use and Cardiopulmonary Capacity – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine international open, 1(5), E172–E182. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-117599
  12. Duarte-Pereira, D. M., Del Rey-Santamaria, M., Javierre-Garcés, C., Barbany-Cairó, J., Paredes-Garcia, J., Valmaseda-Castellón, E., Berini-Aytés, L., & Gay-Escoda, C. (2008). Wearability and physiological effects of custom-fitted vs self-adapted mouthguards. Dental traumatology : official publication of International Association for Dental Traumatology, 24(4), 439–442. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-9657.2008.00595.x
  13. DeVrieze BW, Modi P, Giwa AO. Peak Flow Rate Measurement. [Updated 2021 Aug 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459325/
  14. Friedman Rubin, P., Eli, I., Greenbaum, T., Shapira, K., Emodi-Perelman, A., & Winocur, E. (2019). Potential orofacial hazards of resistance training: A controlled comparative study. Cranio : the journal of craniomandibular practice, 37(1), 45–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/08869634.2017.1370566
  15. Sarode, G. S., & Sarode, S. C. (2013). Abfraction: A review. Journal of oral and maxillofacial pathology : JOMFP, 17(2), 222–227. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-029X.119788