Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Bike Breathing Techniques
Proper breathing techniques can lead to better body position and enhanced performance. So in honor of proper breathing while swimming, biking and running we are doing a 3 part series focusing on proper technique in each sport. This week we will focus on the bike.
A good breathing technique on the bike starts with a proper body position - one that is comfortable and sustainable. For just about all of us who are triathletes/cyclist that starts with going to an experienced bike fitter who can dial in your position. Lack of body room to breath does not arise as often with road and mountain biking positions due to the wide reach of the handlebars, the chest is not nearly as closed up compared to the chest in a time trial position. The time trial position can be more problematic with an improper fit. A fit that is to short from hips to elbows can leave the torso scrunched up, not giving our diaphragm room to expand. The same goes for elbow pads that are to close together as they can result in rounded shoulders that suppress the lungs ability to expand. First check your fit.
Unlike last month when we focused on the swim this month we have a clear advantage-oxygen is abundant. Even with plenty of oxygen available we want to get the O2 into our lungs in the most efficient way possible. More oxygen into our lungs equals more red blood cells delivered to our muscle. An efficient breath is indicated with belly breathing, pushing our diaphragm down. To ensure you are belly breathing place your hand on your upper stomach, if you feel your stomach expand and your chests rise a little you are on the right path.
Many studies suggest that when exhaling the best method is to push the breath out not just letting the natural process of elastic recoil happen. You may notice yourself already doing this during hard efforts. In addition your mouth is the largest air way to your lungs so be sure to inhale with your mouth. For exhaling research also suggest breathing out through your nose, giving your body more time to use the fresh oxygen that you just inhaled, though honestly I struggle with exhaling through my nostrils as it feels like I run out of air after a couple of minutes.
Proper breathing starts off the bike. Find a quiet place to practice the techniques listed above and be sure you are sitting/standing with your shoulders tall and back!