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Old 05-13-13, 12:24 AM   #1
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hill climbing: breathing... hee-hee-hoooo

today.. i rode around to warm up before heading towards a 10% grade climb that's somewhat straight up. i tried it 3 times and successful 2 out of 3 times without stopping. the first time was the one where i had to physically get off the bike and rest half way through.

i've been reading up on breathing with your stomach so your diaphragm opens up so your lung would bring in more air. then there's breath normally and don't have panic breathing. or keep looking up don't look down.

well.. i tried them all today. half way through.. i noticed that my breathing started to change to a rythem.. hee-hee-hoooo. that's right.. kinda like labor breathing during delivery.

i tried to breathe slowly and calmly.. but just couldn't. i know practice makes perfect.. but just wanna see what other suggestions is out there.

i noticed when i keep my vision down toward my front wheel.. i can dig deep to keep on pedaling, whereas if i look up.. everything seem so much harder to pedal.
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Old 05-13-13, 06:33 AM   #2
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Concentrate on the exhalation. Really blow the air out, try to completely empty your lungs. This helps both to regulate your breathing (stops you panting raggedly) and helps maximise your intake of fresh air, so you feel (or I seem to feel, anyway) fresher for longer on the climb.

Try to look ahead, it makes it so much easier to avoid riding into things...
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Old 05-13-13, 09:45 AM   #3
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Straighten your back, relax, feel that a helium balloon is attached to the top of your helmet and is effortlessly straightening your spine and neck. Just more practice.

There is a point where your power demands will be greater than can be supported by breathing. Then you're going anaerobic. That's OK too, so it depends on what you're trying to do, the interval you're doing or the system you're trying to stress. Usually, it's better to stay aerobic and breathe like you're doing, but anaerobic efforts also have their own huge training effect.

Just because you're trying to breathe correctly doesn't necessarily mean slow breathing. On a steep climb like that, if I want to go fast, I'll breathe as fast as I can and still breathe correctly.
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Old 05-13-13, 10:12 AM   #4
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Your description in the thread title sounds like the way women are told to breathe when in labor.
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Old 05-13-13, 01:16 PM   #5
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I focus on controlling my breathing when my heart rate gets really elevated and I start feeling anxious and stressed on the bike, like during a long climb if out went out too hard, or at the conclusion of one. I then deliberately try to slow my breathing, by inhaling through the nose as deeply as I can and feeling my lungs fill, and out through the mouth, dumping my breath if I'm really working, and more slowly and controlled if I can afford it. It helps lower my pulse, and makes me feel more relaxed and helps me recover more quickly.
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Old 05-13-13, 02:36 PM   #6
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Fancy breathing techniques aren't going to give you any extra power going up a hill. If it's a shortish steep hill you will be getting much, if not most, of your power from anaerobic sources.

Lung capacity is seldom an issue in power output so I would focus on changing your gearing so you can climb at a more manageable pace and improving your power output with hill repeats. If you're having to get off the bike, that's a clear sign you're overgeared and going much harder than you should be. Nothing you do with breathing will fix that problem.
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Old 05-13-13, 04:15 PM   #7
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Fancy breathing techniques aren't going to give you any extra power going up a hill. If it's a shortish steep hill you will be getting much, if not most, of your power from anaerobic sources.

Lung capacity is seldom an issue in power output so I would focus on changing your gearing so you can climb at a more manageable pace and improving your power output with hill repeats. If you're having to get off the bike, that's a clear sign you're overgeared and going much harder than you should be. Nothing you do with breathing will fix that problem.
All true, but . . . I've always thought that VO2max is associated with the muscles' maximum oxidative capacity. On top of that capacity is the muscles' maximum glycolytic capacity. Thus for me at least, the division between aerobic and anaerobic energy systems during hill climbs of 15 minutes or more seems to be affected by the amount of oxygen I can consume. Thus I find that sustaining my LTHR, currently 149 and 91% of MHR at 67 yrs., is affected by the amount of air I can pass through my lungs. I have to concentrate on the fancy breathing techniques to sustain this HR for long climbs, currently down to only about 45 minutes at a time. Or maybe that's now a beat to two too high. In any case, if I don't get the air, my HR poops out a lot earlier than if I concentrate on my breathing, I assume because, while I'm producing the same power, I'm shorting my oxidative system and subsituting the glycolytic system.

Your gearing comment is also interesting. With our current tandem gearing, I have trouble hitting LTHR on the tandem on 10% grades, I think because I can't spin fast enough to put the necessary power to the road with our gearing. I've been climbing at higher cadences the last couple of years, maybe because I just don't have the leg strength to consume enough oxygen at lower cadences, though I've been sledding 4 X bodyweight. OTOH we have very few grades of 10% or better around here, so that's OK. Ageing is weird.
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Old 05-14-13, 12:29 AM   #8
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Just because you're trying to breathe correctly doesn't necessarily mean slow breathing. On a steep climb like that, if I want to go fast, I'll breathe as fast as I can and still breathe correctly.
the thing was.. i wasn't trying to go fast... will remember to keep my back straight and relax.

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Your description in the thread title sounds like the way women are told to breathe when in labor.
that's exactly what i was thinking too when i was breathing that way...
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Old 05-14-13, 10:13 AM   #9
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VO2max is associated with the muscles' maximum oxidative capacity.
I'm not fully up to date on this but I've seen studies claiming that VO2max is limited mainly by the ability to get oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Hence significant improvements to VO2max from things like EPO and intervals. But that's tangential to the question.

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If you're having to get off the bike, that's a clear sign you're overgeared and going much harder than you should be. Nothing you do with breathing will fix that problem.
I agree (mostly). Inefficient breathing might make you perform at 10% below your potential (if that). There's no limit to the difference between your potential and the power you need to spin a poorly geared bike up a steep hill.
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Old 05-14-13, 05:37 PM   #10
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humm.. i think my gearing should be ok now. i'm running a SRAM RED compact 50/34 & 11/28 in the rear. the equipment is there.. now just need the engine to work it.
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Old 05-15-13, 08:09 AM   #11
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humm.. i think my gearing should be ok now. i'm running a SRAM RED compact 50/34 & 11/28 in the rear. the equipment is there.. now just need the engine to work it.
If you can pedal at 80 rpm up your steepest common local gradient without blowing up, your gearing is close. Some folks like even lower gearing.
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Old 05-15-13, 02:49 PM   #12
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Concentrate on the exhalation. Really blow the air out, try to completely empty your lungs.
I've been doing this lately on long hills, and it has been very effective. Almost magical.
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Old 05-15-13, 05:48 PM   #13
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Getting ready to ride and have learned some new things to try. Thanks crew. I have a 53/39 with 28/12. Climbing for me kicks my tail. But I want to improve the motor instead of buy new gears.
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Old 05-16-13, 12:57 AM   #14
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Getting ready to ride and have learned some new things to try. Thanks crew. I have a 53/39 with 28/12. Climbing for me kicks my tail. But I want to improve the motor instead of buy new gears.
There are two ways to look at it. If you reasonably expect to improve the motor so much in a short period of time that new gears won't be necessary, that's fine. If you want to punish the motor for not being good enough by forcing it to work with bad gears, that's not.
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Old 05-16-13, 09:37 AM   #15
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Yeah, I know a couple people who ride triples and simply get strong enough in the summer to not use the granny. That's a good system. It's also nice to have a couple of different cassettes. You size your chain for the big cassette and swap in the small one for flatter rides or when you get stronger in summer. Really, you want to get so you can climb your ordinary grades at 90 rpm, which is a more important thing.
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Old 05-16-13, 10:15 AM   #16
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i tried to exhale like really blowing it out of my lungs... however, it always end up like this: initial climb i can spin 2-3 times before exhale completely, then eventually it turns into down stroke breath in, up stroke breath out and that's when my breathing starts to speed up.

perhaps it's inexperience on my part.

as for spinning.. i tried to keep at 90rpm.. but eventually it'll fall down to 75rpm. don't know how to keep it at 90 because at times, it felt like i'm spinning myself to death... haha
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Old 05-16-13, 10:21 AM   #17
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i tried to exhale like really blowing it out of my lungs... however, it always end up like this: initial climb i can spin 2-3 times before exhale completely, then eventually it turns into down stroke breath in, up stroke breath out and that's when my breathing starts to speed up.

perhaps it's inexperience on my part.

as for spinning.. i tried to keep at 90rpm.. but eventually it'll fall down to 75rpm. don't know how to keep it at 90 because at times, it felt like i'm spinning myself to death... haha
Yeah, when I was learning to spin on climbs it felt like I was peeing strength out of the bottoms of my feet. Keep practicing. It takes a while.
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Old 05-16-13, 12:16 PM   #18
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I do breathing exercises when my HR starts going up, whether I'm going up a hill or pedaling against the wind. When climbing hills I usually wait until my speed drops and just stand up on the bike to pedal harder, I've never downshifted or walked a bike up a hill (and never needed a break half way up-maybe at the top of the hill though). I'm far from being in shape but I've actually passed a few roadies who struggled going up inclines. They pass me like I'm sitting still on the flat roads though.
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Old 05-16-13, 10:24 PM   #19
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i guess it's all about practice in the end... i'm learning how to look up and look forward during a climb rather than bury my head down..

the weird part about it, my friends' think i'm mental, is during the climb when i'm suffering to spin the crank.. to fight for that every inch of climb.. i actually enjoy it and even more so when i get to the top.
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Old 05-16-13, 10:43 PM   #20
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It is said that MTB riders are physical and road riders are mental.
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Old 05-17-13, 02:11 PM   #21
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It is said that MTB riders are physical and road riders are mental.
then i guess mental it is... took everyone advise and started my practice today. felt good going up this hill. probably it's nothing for many.. but for me it was quite a work out.
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Old 05-17-13, 04:57 PM   #22
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When that gets easy, and it won't take long, you can ride to Calaveras, Sierra, or Mt Hamilton.
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Old 05-18-13, 01:53 AM   #23
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well, a couple of my riding buddies wants to tackle mt. hamilton. one of them is very athletic. he swims daily and runs. even with his 21lbs raleigh alum bike with ultegra.. he can out climb us any day.. and he's a smoker.

i quit smoking cold turkey almost 10yrs ago and coming from smoking 2packs a day.. every breathe i take on the climb.. my lung feels better and better.

Calaveras is tough.. and doesn't seem to have a protect bike lane. ppl drive like crazy downhill from there during lunch.. so i'm a bit worried.

but yea.. i'd love to get better and better at climbing... with the garmin 810 on ordered.. i'd hope the data from my climb will also help improve me to become a better climber.
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Old 06-03-13, 12:08 PM   #24
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Practice makes perfect! But you may want to work on increasing yoyr aerobic capacity as well. You can belly breathe all you want, but if you have a low aerobic capacity, you'll keep on struggling.
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Old 06-04-13, 11:21 AM   #25
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Practice makes perfect! But you may want to work on increasing yoyr aerobic capacity as well. You can belly breathe all you want, but if you have a low aerobic capacity, you'll keep on struggling.
how to increase aerobic capacity? do more cardio related? or time to bust out the Terry Crews Euro Training?
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