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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 08-10-04, 02:44 PM   #1
timmhaan
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lung capasity and breathing problems

a lot of times i don't feel like i'm getting enough air in my lungs and i get winded early on. it feels like i'm getting about 90% use of my lungs, and i can't quite fill them up all the way. anything i can do about this? or will it resolve itself with more training? i don't smoke and i've never had an injury that would hinder my breathing. my bike fits fine and my form is okay as well. any ideas?
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Old 08-17-04, 02:57 AM   #2
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From my personal experience, changing breathing style can improve lung capacity...or at least it feels that way. I usually just keep my mouth open a crack and breath with more pressure. For me this seems to sometimes work better than opening my mouth wide...at least when I'm running (I'm both a runner and a cyclist). Experiment with some different breathing techniques and see if it helps. Other than that, just keep training.
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Old 08-17-04, 06:27 AM   #3
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Timmhaan,

I'm no fitness guru, but I've decided to start getting into shape in my mid 50's. To that end I am reading Carmichael's book "The Ultimate Ride". According to him, the Aerobic System which is responsible for the intake of Oxygen, its absorption, and delivering it to the muscles takes alot of work and time to build up.

I'm not going to get to techincal as I like you are learning, but I've read about a third of the book in the last three days. It is a little above my knowledge level and is mostly geared to racing, but there are plenty of things the average biker (which I am) can learn. I'm sure I'm going to have to re-read certain certains to get a better understanding.
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Old 08-17-04, 06:58 AM   #4
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To briefly try to clarify, lung capacity itself, isn't an issue and training doesn't increase lung capacity, which is genetically determined and based on your size (i.e., big people in general have bigger lungs than small people, just like they might have bigger legs or arms etc). lung capacity is only a limitig factor is there's some sort of respiratory disease such as asthma, COPD, etc. even in asthma, it may not be limiting.

on the other hand the transport of oxygen from the air to muscle mitochondria is a limiting factor, and is the actual limiting factor in endurance exercise. generally, by breathing very hard, rapidly and carefully, an average sized male may be able to breathe in say 200 L of air in a minute. Air is ~ 21% oxygen (i.e., 42 L of oxygen). However, as we draw air into the lungs, we extract the oxygen from the air, as it passes through the alveoli and into the deoxygenated blood. There it joins the blood 'saturating' it fully (except in a few instances) forming oxyhaemoglobin, whereupon it gets shunted round the body to the various organs.

as exercise intensity increases, the exercising muscles require more O2, and cardiac output is increased to deliver more blood and hence O2 to the leg muscles. the maximal volume of oxygen that can be extracted and delivered to the muscles is termed "VO2max" and is reported in L/min. often this figure is divided by body mass to get a relative score that can be compared across different sized athletes.

Vo2max, may reach 8 L/min in a large (e.g., 90 kg) super elite endurance athlete. this is a small fraction of that 42 L they could take in.

very *approximately*,relative VO2max scores are (for males, females ~ 15% less)

35 - 40 mL/kg/min = sedentary
50 - 55 mL/kg/min = soccer players (that's the Euro sport, not that really silly game played in the States!!!! ;-)) and elite military personnel such as SAS

60 - 65 mL/kg/min = cat 2 and 3 racing cyclists

70 mL/kg/min = cat 1 RC

> 70 mL/kg/min = international racing calibre cyclist

>80 mL/kg/min = elite 1500 m, 3000 m, 5km runners, etc and some TdF pros, people who win 4km track cycle pursuit

>90 mL/kg/min = an odd person. i think the highest level recorded is 94 mL/kg/min maybe by a X-C skier

i think Greg Lemond tested out at 93 mL/kg/min

for simplicity i've missed out some of the steps in my explanation of convective O2 delivery.

ric (VO2max = 65 mL/kg/min).

p.s. VO2max is only about 50% genetic and therefore quite trainable
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Old 08-17-04, 08:34 AM   #5
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Great explanation, Ric!!!!
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Old 08-17-04, 08:58 AM   #6
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You should get a test for sports induced asthma if what you're experiencing is a "breathing" problem. My wife should had one recently after having some weird breathing things on longer rides or tougher hills; able to breath, but only if she slowed it down and controlled it. It turns out that she has sports induced asthma at the very highest level of excersion. This was a big surprise because it's never come up while playing soccer or running, but then I rib her about not playing hard enough. Now she has an Albuteral inhaler that she uses about twenty minutes before a ride and carries with her during longer rides and it has helped her trememndously!
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Old 08-17-04, 09:04 AM   #7
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Great explanation, Ric!!!!
thanks!
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Old 08-17-04, 09:13 AM   #8
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I don't know if this is true but when I was doing high altitude mountaineering I heard that your lung capacity increases into your 30's(age) so someone who is say 34 will be able to breath at altitude better than a 24 year old. Anyone?
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Old 08-17-04, 06:55 PM   #9
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If this is even a moderate problem, I would have it checked by a doctor. It could be something physical such as asthma or even heart issues (e.g., valves leaking).
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Old 08-18-04, 03:29 PM   #10
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Pardon my simplistic attempt- Are you trying too hard to breathe? Maybe you are shorting yourself of O2 by breathing in & out too quickly.
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Old 08-19-04, 11:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinstee
Pardon my simplistic attempt- Are you trying too hard to breathe? Maybe you are shorting yourself of O2 by breathing in & out too quickly.
no pardon needed - it's a good thought. i think i breath at a regular pace until i notice i can't "fill up" all the way, then i think i speed up the breathing to compensate. so, i guess i do and i don't.
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Old 08-19-04, 12:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfmckenna
I don't know if this is true but when I was doing high altitude mountaineering I heard that your lung capacity increases into your 30's(age) so someone who is say 34 will be able to breath at altitude better than a 24 year old. Anyone?
No, to about 24 years, the lung capacity increases. Last organ in the developing body to max.

Also, if you are 'bent' over your frame, or have your arms closer than your shoulders, you are compressing your chest and breathing is harder.

>jef.
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Old 08-19-04, 12:24 PM   #13
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As an asthmatic, I do have some special experience with this.
1) You can get asthma later in life, you don't have to be born with it.
2) Concentrate on breathing out, not in. Get the stale air out first.
3) Slow down a little bit, recover, then go hammer again.
4) Asthma doesn't have to rule your life, my medicine has freed me.
5) Keep riding, you'll get faster by riding alot and by pushing your individual envelope.
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