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Three tips for breathing properly!
The most important thing when it comes to breathing right on the bike is to make sure you are using your lungs to maximum potential. To do this, you want to make sure you are breathing deeply rather then taking lots of shallow breaths.
By breathing deeper, you actually start using more of your lung "capacity" and in doing so more readily optimise oxygen uptake to the muscles.
So how do we open our lungs more fully to optimise this oxygen uptake to the working muscles?
Breathe from your tummy!
To use your diaphragm to full potential and focus breathing from your tummy, not your lungs.
A quick tip to check if you are doing this right is to put your hand on the upper part of your tummy below your lungs and FEEL your tummy expanding outwards. When you feel and see your tummy bellow outwards, and feel your chest (lungs) rise. This is the correct way.
Try it the opposite way by focusing instead on your lungs to see and feel the difference! This is probably what you're doing on each training ride but now you know better! It's amazing how much deeper you can inhale and exhale now with each breath.
Learn to breathe IN through your mouth and OUT through your nose!
Research suggests breathing through your nose as you exhale is BEST. The reason for this is simple. You exhale air slower than you would if you exhaled via your mouth. Because the air is slower to leave the lungs, it has more time to extract more oxygen from each breath. Now as I said, when I tried this I found this quite hard and at times very restricting, but with substantial time and patience (!) it can evidentely become second-nature.
Breathe with your own natural pace!
One problem with learning to breathe correctly at speed is you get so focused on breathing correctly that you forget to pay attention to your cycling! A key thing that helped me especially, was to try to time your breathing with your cycling pedalling rate and that way you could focus on both at the same time.
So a tip here is to get into a rhythm with your breathing AND your pedalling. For example, I used to do something like two pedal strokes for inhale and one pedal stroke of exhale. Obviously, you will no doubt be different to me - and I warn that this approach 'may not' work for you but it certainly helped me. The key point is to breathe rhythmical with your cycling and keep as natural as you can.