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Settle an argument for me, would you, dear forum?

My fiancée would have me believe that all manner of ills would be rectified (no more tight hamstrings, world peace and so on) if I could ride my bike inhaling exclusively through my nose. That it's just a matter of acclimatising the old lungs and so on.

Had never really thought about it, to be honest. If I am spinning along fairly gently, I would breathe through my nose, but at any kind of pace (or hill) I would certainly be mouth-breathing ... it doesn't seem like I can physically get sufficient volume of air in otherwise, and I quickly run out of O2.

Her argument is that my lungs need to get used to using the oxygen more efficiently and that I should be able to do nose-in/mouth-out, mine is that my nose is just too damn small to get enough air in, period, and that I don't believe anyone could scale any kind of decent hill like that.

(I do accept, by the way, that generally speaking nose-breathing is better, the little hairs, blah blah)

11 comments

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Oli Pendrey [102 posts] 8 years ago
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Hmmm sounds interesting. All I know is that the last thing I'm thinking about whilst tackling a climb is regulating my breathing, im just interested in gulping down as much oxygen as possible  13

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purplecup [217 posts] 8 years ago
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there's a fairly long article about this at

http://www.sethigherstandards.com/increase-your-endurance-and-reduce-str...

which has some interesting stuff in it. sounds like you can train yourself to do it effectively. anyone tried?

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purplecup [217 posts] 8 years ago
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and another, though this one's more general:

http://breathing.com/articles/nose-breathing.htm

the first article makes reference to a specific study but i can't find anything on that...

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jezzzer [329 posts] 8 years ago
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mm yeah interesting article. got a bit lost somewhere around the yogic stuff, but it makes a good case otherwise. i notice, though, that after several months of doing it he says he is still noticeably slower than if he was mouth breathing, so it sounds like it takes a long while for your body to acclimatise....?

i was curious to see if anyone on here could tell me that yes, even while going up hills they still use their nose.

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dave atkinson [6301 posts] 8 years ago
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not me, i'm very much a mouth breather  1

seriously though, there's no way i could get up the hill back home breathing through my nose. i'd suffocate about half way up...

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joeatjbstdotcom [5 posts] 8 years ago
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Well there's a good book by John Douillard http://www.amazon.com/Body-Mind-Sport-Mind-Body-Lifelong/dp/0609807897/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240304690&sr=1-2 - which has a lot to say about relaxed nose breathing.

My experience suggests:

1. you can nose breathe, with training up to around 82-85%HRmax

2. once you have to start to gasp through your mouth you are already into lactate build up and could possible back off and climb more efficiently

3. most riders key limiter to climbing is rider mass and their power (ie. power to weight ratio) NOT bike mass (sorry weight weenies) or how they breathe

4. that said if you learn to cruise by nose breathing occasionally it limits you to riding aerobically and not over exerting (the biggest cause of lack of fitness development is too hard too often with too little recovery)

5. the year the L'Etape finished with L'Alpe D'Huez I think I was also breathing out my ears and belly button by the top

Three ways to get better at nose breathing:

1. Try a Breatheright strip to clear the nasal passage and put focus on your nose as a tool for correct breathing

2. Lie on floor
put heavy book on belly button area
breathe in and push the book up
breathe out and let the book fall
practice for 3 mins a day

you can also do this type of exercise (without the book)
using a simple straw

3. Watch on climbs the point at which you revert to mouth breathing and what HR and perception of effort it occurs at - this is around lactate threshold (just below it) but gives you a good guide for long climbs

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jezzzer [329 posts] 8 years ago
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joe - didn't really understand #2 (in your first list). backing off and climbing more efficiently ... efficient in terms of what? use of energy, oxygen...?

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jezzzer [329 posts] 8 years ago
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dave_atkinson wrote:

not me, i'm very much a mouth breather  1

seriously though, there's no way i could get up the hill back home breathing through my nose. i'd suffocate about half way up...

yeah - that was exactly my thinking. so i'm more than a little surprised to report that I just did my 8 mile trip home (with a similar climb to dave's) with mouth clamped grimly shut.

started off quite tentatively, expecting to run out of breath immediately, but by the top of the climb i was out of the saddle. i'd guess i was a couple of mph slower throughout, although the clock suggested the time wasn't all that much different.

interesting...

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jezzzer [329 posts] 8 years ago
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hmm, that quote button doesn't seem to work properly...

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dave atkinson [6301 posts] 8 years ago
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yeah, funnily enough i tried the very same thing, and i didn't have to get off and die either. and i was on the africabike. likewise, i couldn't have put 100% in but i don't tend to on the ride home anyway, so it was okay.

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BananaDrama [35 posts] 8 years ago
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I held my breath on the way home and got completely different results.