Day 191: How to breathe while cycling

13 07 2010

I’m still relatively new at this whole cycling thing and there’s a lot to learn. Like how to breathe properly. I do feel like I’m making progress in some areas such as leg strength (I notice less fatigue in my legs and I’m starting to see some leg muscles I never noticed before); speed (my overall average speed has improved quite a bit since this time last year); bike handling; and confidence in riding in traffic to name a few things. But controlling my breathing when practicing hills is the biggest challenge for me, as I mentioned here and here. I figure the best thing I can do to help with this is to lose 25 pounds (and incorporate more cardio into my routine), but I’m still working on that. Actually, I need to develop a more regular workout routine, but that’s probably a topic for another post. Of course there are many different suggestions for improving your breathing: breathe from your diaphragm, count your breaths with your pedal stroke, not to mention the whole VO2 max thing that I don’t really understand.

Here are a few sites I thought offered helpful advice no matter what skill level:

Team Estrogen forums – Climbing, gearing and breathing
Cycling performance tips – Breathing for Highly Trained Athletes (I’ll never be a “highly skilled athlete” but this still had some good tips)
Pez Cycling News – Toolbox: Breathe! – Breathing 101: Increase your efficiency for better oxygen uptake
Yahoo Answers

What do you do to improve your breathing while on the bike? How long until you noticed an improvement? Please share your tips. I could really use some help. 🙂

I didn’t track my food today. Some days I just need a break from it. Back to it tomorrow though.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

…( ) / ( )

Thanks for visiting.




4 responses

25 09 2010
John Phoenix

I find breathing through my nose only, helps a lot. If I breath through my mouth I use up lots more energy. To me this negates the reason for breathing in the first place. I want the oxygen to feed my muscles with needed energy in the most efficient way possible. I propel an 18 speed mountain bike to get around town and I’m a 42 year old smoker of 24 years. I have cut down a lot only smoking a few cigarettes a day but I know my lungs are not 100 % any more. I can only imagine if I get a good benefit out of breathing this way a non smoker should get a much better benefit. I challenge myself to use slow deep controlled breathing through my nose using my diaphragm muscles. This may or may not work for you and I do not know what Pro cyclists think of this. I carry about 15 lbs of fishing equipment in a backpack to and from a lake two miles away on a regular basis. If I breath through my mouth, I get worn out and have to stop to rest a lot more easily and frequently. Best of luck.

25 09 2010
Alice - cyclingproject365

Thanks for your tips and your visit, John. I do have a habit of breathing through my mouth once I start getting tired. I quit smoking about 8 years ago (long before I started cycling last year). I try to control my breathing on hills with deep controlled breaths, but I can never seem to make it last very long before I start panting. I expect I really need to do some cardio work which should help also. I’ve seen some video tips on breathing with the diaphragm, so I try to make myself do that on hills. I have noticed it does seem to help, but I still have a long way to improve. Also pulling up during the pedal upstroke feels like it uses less energy than pushing down on the pedals. (I’m not sure if it really makes a difference or if it’s just my imagination though). I’ll try to make a point to breathe through my nose and see how that helps.
Thanks again for your tips! Keep in touch and ride safe!

9 08 2012
Christo Jooste

I found your comments and links extremely useful. I am an “advance” novice and have also discovered the gem of breathing. Thanks again.

17 08 2012

I am 48 years old and I have been cycling for over 30 years
During the last couple of years I noticed that my mouth kept drying out every time I would try to cycle faster it got to the point that I could not even swallow because my mouth was so dry.
I read about nasal breathing and tried it. All I can say is that my mouth does not dry out any more It takes a little getting used but I found that I can cycle just as fast as I did before.
The only downside is my nose will occasionally run. But once it’s clear, I can cycle faster and recover faster too.

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