Inhale. Exhale. Easy right? Yes, we do this at least 20,000 times each day but when it comes to exercise, we need to put some work into. Being in control of your breath when you’re riding will help you stay more focused and feel more energized. In fact, improving our breathing in general can help to lower blood pressure, decrease stress, and improve physical performance.
Breathing is an automatic physiological function that a lot of us don’t often think about it—but we totally should. When we breathe involuntarily, our breaths are usually quicker and more shallow. This kind of pattern can lead to hyperventilation, which can trigger dizziness, anxiety, palpitations and other symptoms. What we actually want to do when we ride is to take deep, full breathes. During high-intensity workouts, our muscles are pushed to their limits and they need fresh oxygen to recover. Therefore, it’s very important to keep a good cadence of breath and to use deep breaths as a tool to get us through tough intervals.
Employing the right breathing technique at the right time can take your workout to whole new heights. Here are four breathing techniques to help you maximize your rides:
When you breath from the diaphragm, your belly moves outward and it allows your lungs to absorb more oxygen. This technique also improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and dials down on stress. Use this during your warm up and cool down or during active recovery.
How to: Breathe in slowly through your nose letting your belly expand. Your diaphragm will rise toward your chest. Then slowly exhale and let your belly deflate.
Inhaling Into The Back
Did you know that half of your respiratory muscles are in your back? Often times, these muscles will tense up when you’re pushing really hard during your ride. Give this technique a try when you’re riding with heavy resistance or climbing hills in a standing position.
How to: Inhale until you can feel the breath travel to the back of your rib cage. Then exhale fully and relax the muscles in the back of your rib cage.
Getting into a rhythm when breathing can minimize the potential conflict of breathing at an inappropriate time such as, inhaling when the abdominal organs are pushing the diaphragm upwards.
How to: Time your breath to your pedal stroke to ensure a steady rhythm when you’re riding. For example, you breathe in deeply over four pedal strokes, then exhale fully through four pedal strokes.
Forceful exhaling is a great way to bring energy and alertness to the body. This is a great technique to use during your warm up. If you’re an experienced rider, you can employ this during sprints and hills to boost your pace and power.
How to: Inhale in a relaxed state. Then exhale forcefully by using your diaphragm and abdominal muscles to expel the air. Do this 5 to 8 times before returning to your normal breathing pattern.