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Old 07-08-06, 12:30 PM   #1
vrkelley
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Better breathing, better commute?

I did a bit of searching around and found some breathing exercises that is supposed to improve pedaling efficiency. http://www.breathplay.com/cyclingtext.html

Any commuters out there use breathing exercises to reduce snot rockets and improve speed? I'm wondering how many mph, a rider can improve esp. on the hills?
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Old 07-08-06, 12:33 PM   #2
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In case people can't load the website
Here this the article. http://www.breathplay.com/cyclingtext.html

======Breathe Better to Ride Better, by Davis Phinney======

(Catch "big air" to increase your energy and relaxation.)

When I asked one of my cycling friends if he though much about his breathing,
he replied, "No, but I'm a firm believer in it."
Breathing is strongly emphasized and controlled in activities such as
swimming, singing and yoga, but it's rarely given a second thought by
cyclists. However, by working on your breathing technique you can
significantly improve your riding. It's another effective way to expand you
endurance and power, not just your lungs.
In fact, most cyclists use only a small percentage of their lungs. Because
they don't concentrate on breathing, they don't learn to maximize lung
capacity.
One of my mentors, Polish world champion Stan Szozda, spent considerable time
developing his lungs. According to him, the secret to success was breathing,
and the way to improve it was through regular training. Each day he would
inhale to his maximum and hold it, stretching his lungs to their max. He
carried this over to swimming, trying to go as far as possible underwater
(so-called hypoxic training). He believed that lungs lose flexibility and
capacity without training, just as muscles do. Whenever Szozda wound up his
road sprint, you could hear him coming by the sound of his intense
exhalations. He was a master at hilltop finishes and long sprints because of
his ability to control his breathing. Here are four was to improve yours:

1.
Use Your Diaphragm
Anyone who grew up watching the old Superman TV series got the wrong
idea. I figured that by lifting my shoulders and sticking out my chest I
could blow down buildings. I was wrong. The key is the stomach. By pushing
it in and out, not up and down, you are best able to access your full lung
capacity because you are using your diaphragm muscle.

2.
Change Your Rhythm
To gain control of your breathing, concentrate on a specific pattern of
inhaling and exhaling, then coordinate it with our pedal stroke. This idea
has been expounded by numerous people, most notably Ian Jackson in his book
BreathPlay. Skip Hamilton, a senior staff member of the Carpenter/Phinney
Bike Camps and member of Bicycling's team in the '96 Race Across America, has
worked with Ian and simplified the approach.
Hamilton teaches breathing in varied rhythms because most riders tend to
fall into one set pattern wile riding, especially on hard climbs. For
instance, that always exhale with the same-side down-stroke, and they often
breathe in for half a stroke and out for half a stroke. For most people this
means breathing out as they push down with the right leg.
To change the pattern, exhale longer every few breaths. You'll automatically
change your rhythm. Hamilton calls this "switch-side breathing." You will
be breathing out on both the left-and the right-side down-stroke over the
course of a ride. Cyclists at the Bike Camp report that using this simple
technique gives them a feeling of fresher legs-almost like having a n extra
gear.
The tactic of switch-side breathing is only a starting point. I have tried
many variations. For instance, by counting pedal strokes I extend the length
of each breath. Eventually you'll become aware of balancing your breathing
and pedaling. Play with any number of patterns and breathing techniques,
such as:
Even breathing. Try a rhythm where you take long, even breaths and begin
exhaling at the top of a stroke. Alternate legs each time. By tying your
breath to the pedal stroke you are less likely to exhale incompletely and
start gasping. Use a consistent gear and effort. Try counting-1, 2, 3 in:
4, 5, 6, out.
Quick in, long out. Alexi Grewal, '84 Olympic gold medallist, used to work
on exhaling as slowly as possible-like a weight lifter timing the push phase
with a breath. Because cycling is pretty much a continuous push phase, he
would inhale deeply and quickly (1-2 count) then slowly exhale (3-5 count)
like air leaking from a balloon.

3.
Breathe Through Your Nose
Recently making the rounds in Colorado was a book called "Body, Mind, and
Sport" by John Douillard. It advocates nasal breathing exclusively during
exercise as a way to a Zen-like experience. I have yet to meet anyone who
has achieved enlightenment using this technique, but athletes who have tried
it report that it's a good tool for moderating effort. The amount of air you
can inhale through your nose is limited, so it acts like a natural governor
on your pace. Your performance capacity rises because when you use both your
nose and mouth, efficiency improves.
Legend has it that Apache warriors used to prepare for the rigors of the
desert by taking long runs with their mouths full of water. The reasoning
was sound. Focusing on holding in the water without swallowing taught mental
discipline. Breathing through the nose taught moderation of intensity in
order to endure the distance. Not breathing heavily through the mouth slowed
dehydration from vapor loss. Wisdom of the ancients.
One caution: It is easy to overdo nasal breathing. Be careful or you might
hyperventilate

4.
Flare Your Nostrils
Anyone who watches professional sports is bound to notice a piece of tape on
some players' noses. This product, called Breathe Right Nasal Strips, is
making its way into the cycling world, especially off road. The principle is
simple: The device acts like a spring, pulling out the sides of your nose and
opening the nasal passages. How much this actually adds to performance has
yet to be measured. (During efforts at more than 80% of maximum,, 95% of a
rider's breathing takes place through the mouth.
That said, Breathe Right does give you the sensation of more air coming in.
George Hincapie of the Motorola pro team tried it at the Tour DuPont one
spring and was favorably impressed. He only used it one day because he took
some ribbing from fellow riders. Fashion consciousness won out, though the
look hasn't stopped other riders and pro athletes.
What will mastering these techniques do for your cycling? Imagine ascending
a tough hill. As you approach the climb, you focus on breathing. Taking
even, measured breaths, your body stays relaxed. As the hill steepens, you
back off slightly, adjusting your output to match the effort needed. Instead
of tensing, you are fluid-even though the effort gets progressively more
difficult. Because you are closely monitoring your breathing, you are also
keenly aware of your heart rate. In this way, the hill seems to pass
harmlessly under your wheels and you're already rolling towards the next one,
breathing efficiently and recovering.
One final note: Use these breathing techniques as tools, but don't let them
distract from a good ride.
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Old 07-08-06, 12:57 PM   #3
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The only thing I do is breathe deeply before I start hauling arse (ex: before a sprint). Keeps me from going into an anerobic state (at least I think that is the term) as fast.
I read once that racers perform deep breathing exercises to increase their lung capacity. However, my memory is a wee bit fuzzy and I may be incorrect.
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Old 07-08-06, 01:04 PM   #4
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Competitive swimming ingrained the habit of timing breaths to coincide with certain frequencies of motion. Now I do it for just about everything, swimming, cycling, running, lifting, even snowboarding if it's a particularly challenging run. That said, if you're pedaling at high cadence
"For instance, that always exhale with the same-side down-stroke, and they often breathe in for half a stroke and out for half a stroke."
will very quickly lead to hyperventilation. Normal breathing in a healthy adult at rest is 12-16 breaths per minute, or one every 4-5 seconds. 90 RPM would translate into 90 breaths per minute.
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Old 07-08-06, 02:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rknj
Competitive swimming ingrained the habit of timing breaths to coincide with certain frequencies of motion. Now I do it for just about everything, swimming, cycling, running, lifting, even snowboarding if it's a particularly challenging run. That said, if you're pedaling at high cadence
"For instance, that always exhale with the same-side down-stroke, and they often breathe in for half a stroke and out for half a stroke."
will very quickly lead to hyperventilation. Normal breathing in a healthy adult at rest is 12-16 breaths per minute, or one every 4-5 seconds. 90 RPM would translate into 90 breaths per minute.
Yea, I got used to doing it after some long distance running.

I guess it makes sense though. Its very easy for people just to breath too much (and too hard).
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Old 07-08-06, 06:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrkelley
...amount of air you can inhale through your nose is limited, so it acts like a natural governor on your pace. Your performance capacity rises because when you use both your nose and mouth, efficiency improves.
Both at once? I thought it was one or the other. Once I get going over say 17mph, or on hills, automatically breath through my mouth. Hmmm. will have to try that out.
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Old 07-11-06, 04:45 AM   #7
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Take up a woodwind instrument. Something like a clarinet, oboe, sax... Practice holding really long notes, with vibrato. Seemed to work for me...

I guess a brass instrument would work too, thinking about it.
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Old 07-11-06, 06:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrkelley
Both at once? I thought it was one or the other. Once I get going over say 17mph, or on hills, automatically breath through my mouth. Hmmm. will have to try that out.
You have to consciously do this, at least at the beginning (I've never tried to ingrain it as a habit though).

Picking a proper breathing rythym is important for setting a comfortable pace. I don't know what it is for biking, but for running, you should be inhaling for two strides, exhaling for two strides. It's not necessarily good for maximum effort, but once you set a good rythym as habit, and it's a rythym which supplies your body with lots of oxygen, you'll fall into naturally when you ride, and feel more comfortable when you're in it. And because most people have inefficient rythyms, when you set a good one it will feel like you're much fitter than you are.
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Old 07-11-06, 06:37 AM   #9
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My brother uses Breath Right strips and says they make a difference for him.
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Old 07-11-06, 09:24 AM   #10
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I remember reading something about breathing deeply through your nose is like turbocharging. It sends more air into your lungs and by filling out your lungs and using your diaphragm, you can take fewer breaths, but get more oxygen. It does act as a speed governor because at some point, your breathing can't keep up. That's when I start breathing through my mouth and nose at the same time and still try to breathe in deeply. Didn't know about the long exhales so I'll give that a shot tonight.
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Old 07-11-06, 10:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tacojohn
You have to consciously do this, at least at the beginning (I've never tried to ingrain it as a habit though).

... but for running, you should be inhaling for two strides, exhaling for two strides. It's not necessarily good for maximum effort, but once you set a good rythym as habit, and it's a rythym which supplies your body with lots of oxygen, you'll fall into naturally when you ride, and feel more comfortable when you're in it. And because most people have inefficient rythyms, when you set a good one it will feel like you're much fitter than you are.
This would be a good racing trivia question. Anybody know??
How many strokes between inhale/exhale for the fastest racers?
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Old 07-11-06, 10:11 AM   #12
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Another view on breathing from Dr. Stephen Seiler, PhD (Physiology):

http://home.hia.no/~stephens/ventphys.htm

Quote:
Can I Apply Any of This to My Training?

So, if you made it to the end of this novel, you may be disappointed to learn that there are no secret breathing tricks that will push you over the top. In general the lungs are wonderfully equipped for doing their job. Training does improve the ventilatory system in some ways, but it is not the weak link in healthy athletes. In recent years, there have been a handful of studies published where the impact of inspiratory muscle training on various aspects of pulmonary and endurance performance have been investigated. This involves essentially weight training for the breathing muscles, where resistance is generated by using some kind of device that reduces airflow during inspiration and forces the inspiratory muscles to work harder against greater resistance. Neither peak pulmonary function nor maximal oxygen consumption have been shown to change with this form of training. However, a couple of studies have shown modest increases in either time to exhaustion or time trial performance during cycling, using placebo controlled designs. How does this work? Perhaps stronger inspiratory muscles allow high ventilation to be achieved at lower breathing frequencies. This would decrease the oxygen cost of breathing and free up some blood flow for the working muscles. Perhaps.

If there is another area where we can benefit from attention to breathing, it would be the issue of entrainment. Good athletes develop breathing “rhythms” that tune in to the rhythms of their movements. This probably promotes efficiency. When you feel yourself performing at your physiological redline, your breathing may be a place to turn your attention. If you are a runner or cyclist, focus on the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles for moving the air in and out, instead of the intercostals attached to the chest. Heaving the chest more than necessary costs extra energy. “Belly breathing” makes sense. If you are a rower “belly breathing” doesn’t work too well. We just have to learn how to breathe between the strokes.
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Old 07-11-06, 07:33 PM   #13
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Reporting back from today's "closed mouth ride". I' m definately slower but the ride is more enjoyable.

@ 5 strokes on the inhale
@ 7 strokes on the exhale

I'm wondering with a deeper breaths if that could bump up to 9/12 or more. Any one else counting strokes?
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Old 07-13-06, 11:21 AM   #14
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I tried "in through the nose, out through the mouth...cant do it. Snot and lack of air...I'm a former swimmer, so I'm just used to in and out the mouth. That being said, when I take larger slower breaths and concentrate on it, I go faster, usually 1 to 2 mph, and my legs feel like they have more in them. I guess the consensis is slower, larger concentrated breaths=more O2 to the engine. Makes sense to me.

Question: Who slows down their breath without thinking about it? I have to make a consious(probabally spelled "consious" wrong) effort in slowing down the breaths.
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Old 07-13-06, 12:22 PM   #15
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I swallowed a big fly riding home last night w/ big breath through mouth. Glad, relatively, that it went for the esophagus not trachea, and absolutely glad that it wasn't a wasp.
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Old 07-13-06, 06:35 PM   #16
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I've noticed when I start really sucking air, breathing through my nose (though sometimes its easier said than done since it can get pretty stuffed up during a long ride) tends to regulate my breathing a little bit better, and I generally calm down somewhat and feel less tired. Don't know if that's a physical reaction or just psychological, but it works for me. Or, if I take a really deep breath it seems to have the same effect, so I guess some of that advice is worth noting.
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Old 07-13-06, 11:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by So Cal commuter

Question: Who slows down their breath without thinking about it? I have to make a consious(probabally spelled "consious" wrong) effort in slowing down the breaths.
Maybe it becomes a habit. Watching the TDF, I really wonder what those racers do. On the climbs and chases, they can't be all congested. The couple of stages that I watched did not produce a single snot-rocket.
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