Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Sportives/audaxes/training rides

Increasing Lung Capacity

yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
I noticed when I am out riding on the hills that I cannot get enough air in for the amount of power my legs are generating. A spirometer revealed I had a capacity of only around 3.5 dm^3, the average man has around 5dm^3.

I have a relatively slim build, but I have done a fair few long distance rides so my legs are well built and its always the feeling of not getting enough air in quickly enough that lets me down.

I am doing hill training at the moment. Hopefully this helps

Any idea how I can improve my lung capacity so this doesn't happen?

Posts

  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,038
    tbh if there is no medical reason to get yourself worried about this, then don't use this as an excuse for being slower than you think you should be... getting faster on a bike demands hard work and a lot of riding at the correct intensities and - what beginners forget all too soon - DOES NOT happen overnight.
    Carry on.
  • humpyghumpyg Posts: 50
    My lungs used to be really good and found it hard getting out of breathe. However, many years (perhaps 5-7) of not doing much, then getting back in to sport, I found things had changed a lot. I went to the gym, ran, played Sunday football for a number of years, but I was always out of breathe very quickly, far too soon. I went to the docs, monitored the peak expiratory flow and found that was low. Tried a mouth spray from the Doc but nothing really improved to what it used to be, and I don't have asthma.
    So even now, after a couple of years of lots of exercise, It's OK cycling, except when I'm going up hill. I know my capacity is less than average. I did buy a power breathe last year, which supposedly will increase lung capacity, but to be honest I haven't followed the schedule so not sure if I can see results, which reminds me I should get it out of the drawer and start using it every day in the next month and monitor performance with the peak flow I have, then I can see if my lung capacity really is improving or not.

    I'm climbing better but that could also be down to weight-loss and fitness. Might be worth checking out anyway.
    http://www.powerbreathe.com/ - Amazon have it for sale too.

    Alternatively, you might just need to get fitter.
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    Well I am quite fit, My resting heart rate is around 60. I've done centuries and am used to riding 50-60 miles, admittedly not much this year because of exams. I guess I'll have a look at the power breathe, thanks for that.
  • humpyghumpyg Posts: 50
    Could be similar to me. My resting heart rate is around 48-50, I've done 3 century rides in the last month, yet if I run up a few flights of stairs, or run a short distance then I'm out of breathe. It's not to say I'm not fit, because I am, it's just weird. As I said, I'll start using the peak flow and power breathe from today, and will record my findings, and I could let you know in a few weeks/month as to how it's going, and if it improves at all.
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    Yeah humpyg that would be great. I think I'll get myself a ultrabreathe and see how that goes too. Hopefully we'll see some improvements.

    Your symptoms sound quite similar to mine actually. I do have low blood pressure, not sure if that has anything to do with it. Running just does seem to make me out of breath very quickly - unsure why
  • Wirral_paulWirral_paul Posts: 2,476
    I've got a lung capacity of 5.53L and a peak flow of 675L/min.............. and hills still hurt!! I've therefore fixed your post for you...
    yeachan153 wrote:
    Any idea how I can improve my lung capacity so I can go faster for the same amount of pain?

    8)
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 2,181
    humpyg wrote:
    My resting heart rate is around 48-50, I've done 3 century rides in the last month, yet if I run up a few flights of stairs, or run a short distance then I'm out of breathe.

    You can ride and ride and ride and your cycling fitness will improve, but start to run 5k or get in a pool and try to swim 20 lengths and you'll be puffed and tired.

    Of course being good at one sport does help, but it doesn't always translate directly.
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    I've got a lung capacity of 5.53L and a peak flow of 675L/min.............. and hills still hurt!! I've therefore fixed your post for you...
    yeachan153 wrote:
    Any idea how I can improve my lung capacity so I can go faster for the same amount of pain?

    8)
    That's the thing though. The hills don't hurt. My legs don't hurt and arn't tired, but I can't breathe fast enough. Its quite hard to explain, but think of it as having a 2.0 litre engine with only tiny bits of petrol injected. You feel restricted by the feeling of put of breathe - but your legs don't hurt.
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 2,181
    yeachan153 wrote:
    That's the thing though. The hills don't hurt. My legs don't hurt and arn't tired, but I can't breathe fast enough. Its quite hard to explain, but think of it as having a 2.0 litre engine with only tiny bits of petrol injected. You feel restricted by the feeling of put of breathe - but your legs don't hurt.

    He said that the hills hurt - not that they hurt your legs. There is more than one kind of pain....

    If I'm running my heart rate right up and breathing as hard as I can - I'd describe that as hurting...
  • Wirral_paulWirral_paul Posts: 2,476
    Singleton wrote:
    He said that the hills hurt - not that they hurt your legs. There is more than one kind of pain....

    If I'm running my heart rate right up and breathing as hard as I can - I'd describe that as hurting...

    My chest feels about to explode long before my legs hurt on a climb. My heart rate will go over 200bpm if really pushing it too, but the legs still feel fine generally - so yes there's definitely more one type of hurt!!

    That Powerbreath item looks like it should help if used regularly.
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    Fair enough, i'm trying out the pursed lip breathing out - its meant to increase strength of the intercoastal muscles so you can breathe faster.

    Ultrabreathe vs powerbreathe = there's a difference in price but is it worth getting the powerbreathe?
  • nick_1978nick_1978 Posts: 34
    yeachan153 wrote:
    I noticed when I am out riding on the hills that I cannot get enough air in for the amount of power my legs are generating.

    Out of interest, are you using a heart rate monitor?
    It would be interesting to see what your heart rate is at the point you find you're not getting enough air...
  • humpyghumpyg Posts: 50
    Singleton wrote:
    humpyg wrote:
    My resting heart rate is around 48-50, I've done 3 century rides in the last month, yet if I run up a few flights of stairs, or run a short distance then I'm out of breathe.

    You can ride and ride and ride and your cycling fitness will improve, but start to run 5k or get in a pool and try to swim 20 lengths and you'll be puffed and tired.

    Of course being good at one sport does help, but it doesn't always translate directly.
    I take your point, but in my case, I run and play football as well. Having played Sunday league football for a number of years as a full-back I'm running all over. For me, it's not a fitness issue, it's a lung/breathing issue. It's hard to explain but if there's me and a winger running/sprinting at the same pace, I'm out of breathe very quickly, but it doesn't mean I can't compete no more, I'm still sprinting/running for the full 90 mins. It's just like the air pipes aren't as wide as they should be, so I'm now getting less oxygen than I used to... (and the Docs say I'm fine)

    yeachan153 - I have two powerbreathes. I started with the red (sports, heavy resistance) one and found I couldn't hardly use it on the lowest setting :oops: and my wife blows it easy. I then had to buy the blue one and that's better for me, so if you do go for powerbreathe, I recommend the blue (fitness, medium resistance) one.
    I've got a lung capacity of 5.53L and a peak flow of 675L/min.............. and hills still hurt!! I've therefore fixed your post for you...
    I've just done my peak flow, My best was 490 after three blows. Not good enough for a 33 year old!
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    nick_1978 wrote:
    yeachan153 wrote:
    I noticed when I am out riding on the hills that I cannot get enough air in for the amount of power my legs are generating.

    Out of interest, are you using a heart rate monitor?
    It would be interesting to see what your heart rate is at the point you find you're not getting enough air...
    No I'm not using a heart rate monitor, but I'll stop when I feel like I'm not getting enough air and take a pulse for 15 seconds and multiply it by four. Why do you say its interesting? Are you implying you think maximum heart rate could be the limiting factor here?

    Humpyg, this one yeah?
    http://www.powerbreathe.com/powerbreath ... tness.html

    By the way, what is peak flow, and how can I measure it?
  • nick_1978nick_1978 Posts: 34
    I'm no Doctor, but I had very similar symptoms last year... Could be exercise induced asthma.
    That's what my GP diagnosed and gave me a green inhaler and it sorted me out. Seems to be fine now, and I've put in a stupid amount of miles and hills since then.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001196/
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    Reckon I'll give the powerbreathe a go first. The only symptom I have is shortness of breath up a hill - no coughing or any such as suggested by the website; so I doubt it's asthma - mind you I have hayfever, and that sometimes apparently does turn into asthma
  • hatonehatone Posts: 228
    http://www.chemistdirect.co.uk/peak-flo ... 2BProducts

    This will help you determine your peak flow.
  • yeachan153yeachan153 Posts: 401
    Link doesn't work hatone
  • humpyghumpyg Posts: 50
    yeachan153 wrote:
    Humpyg, this one yeah?
    http://www.powerbreathe.com/powerbreath ... tness.html

    By the way, what is peak flow, and how can I measure it?
    The one I have is a newer version (see link below), design is a little different, but that's the right resistance one that I recommend, so either the older one you linked to is fine or this one. http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=52162

    I did go to the Docs a year or two back, and they thought Asthma, but it all came back OK. That's when I got the peak flow. They also gave me a spray to use in case I had exercise induced Asthma, but the spray didn't help.

    There's a link to the peak flow below. I think I bought mine from the pharamacy for 5-10 pounds.
    http://www.multipharmacy.com/shop/custo ... -8716.html
    You just take a deep breathe then blow in to it with one hard blow, and theres a little arrow moves up the numbers to indicate what your peak flow reading is. Generally you do it 3 times and record your best reading. Do it daily, and put it on a chart. It would tell you if you did or didn't had asthma, I think if the lines were up/down all the time, if it's steady you're OK. But it'd also be good to use that to test over a few weeks/month as if the powerbreathe was working, then the amount of force you breathe out, should increase. hence give higher readings on the peak flow meter.

    PS - When you do get the power breathe, let someone else have a go and I bet they can probably use it on the highest settings easily, but for me (and probably you), it's like trying to breathe in through a very small straw.
  • GarzGarz Posts: 1,155
    humpyg wrote:
    I take your point, but in my case, I run and play football as well. Having played Sunday league football for a number of years as a full-back I'm running all over. For me, it's not a fitness issue, it's a lung/breathing issue.

    I used to be really fit then tailed off towards the end of my teens. Regular alcohol binges, enjoying life and slowly doing less exercise I found myself in a similar circumstance.

    Basically your CV system has deteriorated over time, nothing to be ashamed of. I don't think I will ever sprint the 100m like I used to as a thirteen year old clocking around 11 secs. Hard graft and dedicating time/diet/training will get you back on track fast but try and keep it realistic.

    Most of all enjoy your time on the bike! 8)
  • NUFCrichardNUFCrichard Posts: 103
    Garz wrote:
    I don't think I will ever sprint the 100m like I used to as a thirteen year old clocking around 11 secs.

    Why did you give it up? You were probably the fastest 13 year old in England, if not the world! The US record for the 13-14 year old age group is 10:94 seconds.
    Or is it a case of "the older I get the faster I was?"
  • 53twelve53twelve Posts: 22
    Being an ex-racer, trying to get back into just riding my bike (10 year lay off - don't ask!), I'm finding it tricky breathing on the hills too. Now, I've had this before, and I know why this happens to me - and what I can do to improve it.

    I have slight asthma, and am quite tall/big, so going uphill was never easy. I have a peak flow meter, so can regularly measure my output - and I also have what some others have mentioned, a Power Breathe. As Humpyg mentions, most of your mates will be able to use it on the highest setting, while you struggle a bit... I used to use mine on a regular basis (almost an off-bike interval session when I was racing), and it really helped. Ok, I was still never really a contender on the hills, but you don't see many 6' 5" mountain goats - but I could hold my own in the group, with the odd mad sprint off the front for the crest.

    I also used my Power Breathe as part of my pre-ride warm up. As an asthmatic, I used to find it took 10/15mins for my lungs to kick in properly, so I used to use the Power Breathe before events - made a huge difference.

    So there's some good advice above - just don't read too much into your own peak flow readings. According to my size/build. I should have 6.9l capacity - and I'm currently around 5l on a good day. But using the PB, and taking weekly peak flow readings, I'm seeing a gradual increase again - which I'm feeling on the bike as I can already climb much better than a couple of months ago.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  • GarzGarz Posts: 1,155
    Garz wrote:
    I don't think I will ever sprint the 100m like I used to as a thirteen year old clocking around 11 secs.

    Why did you give it up? You were probably the fastest 13 year old in England, if not the world! The US record for the 13-14 year old age group is 10:94 seconds.
    Or is it a case of "the older I get the faster I was?"

    If you want to be pedantic I managed 11.73 as my fastest time, this was of course during training. I'm sure somewhere in Bedfordshire schools manual logs back in 1991/2 you could dig it out. I was in the very low 12's running for the middle schools team against the upper schools. :roll:

    A few years later playing rugby/football I knew I had lost the edge, probably couldnt get near that any more. Of course richard why am I justifying this to a guy on a forum who probably doesn't believe anyone but his own feats. :lol:
Sign In or Register to comment.