Mastering Your Breathing for Improved Performance

The Completion Level of Your Training.


Breathing Overview

Importance of Breathing (besides the obvious):

Yeah yeah, you already know if you don't breathe you die. That's obvious.

Now take a second to think about what type of sport cycling is.

It's a very aerobic based sport. By definition, that means "with the use of oxygen." Unless your go to event is the match sprint on the velodrome (which is much more "anaerobic"), then maximizing the amount of oxygen you can consume is going to be a HUGE priority for you and increasing performance.

Here's the thing, although you'd assume breathing is just breathing, there's actually ways you can INCREASE the amount of air you are consuming. We are about to cover them. But, we're also going to take it a step further and give you pointers on when you should be focusing on maximizing that oxygen consumption rate to better prepare yourself and maximize your performance.


Take the breathing test:


Mechanics of a proper breath cycle

Phase 1: Inhale

As you breathe in, there are 2 things you should be focusing on:

  1. Forcing your stomach OUT to allow for better inflation of your lungs. As you stomach expands outwards, this allows more room for your lungs to inflate down at the bottom of your rib cage.
  2. Mentally focusing on breathing the fresh, performance enhancing air all the way down into the bottom of your lungs.

As you do these two things, picture this air moving from the bottom of your lungs, straight down into your working legs, fueling them with the oxygen they need to continue powering on. The mind is a very powerful thing - train it to help you enhance your breathing.


Phase 2: Exhale

As you exhale, focus on these 2 things:

  1. Forcing your stomach back in (or to "neutral") as you expel the used up air.
  2. Focus on collapsing your lungs as much as possible, forcing out as much of that used up air as possible.

Remember, the more CO2 rich air you are able to expel from your lungs, the more room there will be for that O2 rich air to enter on your next inhale.

Common mistake:

Closing your mouth when breathing out. Open your mouth up and increase the ability for the air to flow out.


2 ways to maximize available oxygen

Increase breath volume

This goes along with the mechanics of proper breathing. One way of maximizing available air is going to be by making sure you maximizing the amount of air you are breathing in AND out on each breath cycle.


Increase breath rate

By definition, the word "rate" means it is a function of time. So, by breathing in and out more frequently over a set time interval, we are effectively increasing the amount of available oxygen.


Here is the catch:

To maximize available oxygen, you must combine the two aspects from above. If you breathe faster, but very shallow, you are not increasing the amount of usable air to your lungs, blood, heart, and working muscles.

Remember that total useable air flow is a function of both volume and rate. Breathing in and out more air at a faster rate increases available oxygen.


Delayed aerobic response

When intensity increases, what should you do?


Try it yourself!

Test on your next ride

Test these breathing techniques on your next ride and let us know how it went via the CA Member Facebook Group

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