Breathing Techniques for Cycling.



You may wonder what are correct breathing techniques for cycling and whether there are any techniques that are specific for cycling as opposed to any other sport.

I have been interested in breathing tecniques in general for some time and studied how we should breath.

What happens during breathing

Oxygen is absorbed by the lungs. This is delivered by the bloodstream to the tissues and brain. Carbon dioxide is removed from the body during exhalation. This balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide helps maintain the acidity level of the blood at the correct pH. Without sufficient oxygen in the tissues, muscles become tired easily  and all body functions don’t operate at their optimum level. Correct breathing techniques have the following benefits

  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Lowers stress hormones resulting in less anxiety.
  • Balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
  • Your performance increases
  • Mental health improves

How do you breathe.

You can try this test to see how you are breathing.

Lie down on your back and place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Relax and breath in and out slowly.Take notice of which hand rises on the inhale and falls on the exhale.

If your chest rises on the inhale with your stomach reasonably flat, you are breathing incorrectly. Your diaphragm should expand first and not your chest which allow the lungs to drop and expand.

Conversely when you exhale your stomach should deflate first followed by your chest.This is the way infants breath instinctively but over time ,due to stress and bad habits there is a tendency to breath shallower through the mouth resulting in the chest expanding first hence the bottom section of the lungs aren’t expanded fully.

How do you correct your breathing.

Shallow mouth breathing is a habit that can be corrected but it takes practice. Why bother you may ask? Correct breathing techniques have huge payoffs for your health in general hence your performance during any sport will be enhanced.

Practice breathing in slowly in through your nose counting to seven on the inhale making sure your stomach extends fully by the count of seven, then slowly exhale out your mouth counting to seven making sure the stomach is contracted by the count of seven. Practice this exercise twice a day to start. You may find it very difficult at first but persevere. With practice it becomes easier. As you become more familiar with this practice your breathing technique will change.Take note at times during the day how you are breathing. Consciously correct yourself if you find you are shallow breathing.

When you are out cycling take note. Are you breathing in through your mouth or nose? Is your stomach expanding when you breath in?

What is the correct body position.

An aerodynamic position helps the air flow around your body resulting in less resistance hence faster speed. The downside is if you close your hip angle too much there isn’t enough space for the diaphragm to expand correctly hence the lungs wont fill efficiently. This results in less oxygen being absorbed hence fatigue and less power output. The secret is to practice exercises to strengthen your core muscles which will help your breathing and allow you in a more aero position on your bike.

Over breathing and nose breathing

Most people over breath during exertion they chronically hyperventilate this can have adverse effects as does mouth breathing. Nose breathing helps regulate lung volume preventing over breathing . This prevents excess loss of carbon dioxide from the lungs thus preventing constriction of the air passages.

Read about breathing for fitness at Dr Mercola. Here you can read some interesting tecniques for correct breathing that will result in better general health and performance on the bike or any other activity.


A correct breathing technique is essential for optimal health.Over breathing and nose breathing result in adverse effects on the body. By correcting these your general health and performance during exercise will improve. While these techniques aren’t specifically breathing techniques for cyclists, they will help you with your cycling and any other sporting activity


  1. Yves Johnson

    Great info! I liked the video you provided, it added more depth to what you are talking about

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Thanks for visiting the site Yves.

  2. Michelle Medeiros

    Hi Bruce! This was a great post! I love biking around nature but I never thought about paying attention to my breathing while doing it. I practice meditation and we use the same breathing techniques you’ve described here. You’re very good in explaining it! I am now going to pay attention and breath correctly when biking. Thank you!


    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hello Michelle, Yes its worth paying attention to your breathing while exercising as its very beneficial to your performance.I am able to control my breathing while exercising hard. It takes practice but I think it is very beneficial.You are able to get in the “zone” a lot easier then the effort starts to become effortless.


  3. Paul

    Hey Bruce,

    Great article. I’m buying a bike this weekend having not cycled for many years. This article will be very helpful to me. I don’t want to be too out of breath before I even get a few miles into the ride!

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Paul,
      Glad you bought a bike. I know of several people who fight the black dog. They maintain cycling is one activity that helps keep it on a leash.
      Good luck

  4. Christie

    This is just what I needed to read. I try to stay active, but always have a hard time breathing when doing too much. Thanks to your advice, maybe I will be able to fix that!

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Christie, Practice and this breathing will come naturally to you over time. It seems a bit strange at first but eventually you do it instinctively. It has many positive health benefits

  5. Alex

    wow..Bruce, this post blew me away. It is an amazing post. I didn’t know breathing needs some skills to maximize the health benefits. Thanks for sharing this post.


    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Alex, Its worthwhile taking the time to learn correct breathing technique. It will improve your well being.


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