Triathlete Basics – How to Increase Lung Capacity

Running in triathlons really sends our body’s breathing engine into overdrive when swimming and biking also need a major chunk of that effort. As a thumb rule, the effort ratio of cycling to running is 3:1. But in a sprint triathlon, an athlete is expected to spend around 45 minutes on the bike compared to 25-30 minutes on the run – that changes this ratio to 2:1. Moreover, being the climax, the run demands that burst of oxygen, energy, sheer power and grit – marking the difference between winning and losing triathlon races.


What Is The Importance of Increasing Lung Capacity?
Increased lung capacity pulls more oxygen into the lungs, providing more fuel to your body to convert into energy. This in turn, boosts the runner’s stamina to run longer and more effortlessly – a definite edge over competitors in triathlon events.

How Can You Increase Your Lung Capacity?

  • Diaphragmatic breathing exercise
  • Pursed-lip breathing
  • Rhythmic breathing while running
  • Rib Stretch
  • Pilates Exercise
    • The hundred
    • The swan
    • Standing Chest Expansion

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise
To belly breathe lie down on a bed or the floor, with one hand just below your rib cage and the other on your chest. Breathe in gently through your nose, feel your stomach move out while the chest remains relatively still. Exhale through pursed lips while tightening stomach muscles.

Pursed-Lip Breathing
Relax your shoulders and neck. Breathe in and count to two. Pucker your lips and count to four while slowly letting the breath out.

Rhythmic Breathing While Running
Ensure that you are breathing into your belly and not the chest. Create a breathing pattern convenient to you, like maybe, inhaling for three steps and exhaling for two. Aim to avoid exhaling on the same foot strike over and over. With practice you are bound to get it right.

Rib Stretch
Stand upright with your back arched. Exhale to take out all the air from your lungs. Breathe in slowly to fill your lungs as much as you can. Hold your breath for a minimum of 10 seconds and exhale slowly.

Pilates Exercise
The following three Pilate exercises help in strengthening the diaphragm, increase the lung capacity and enhance the posture to facilitate low-effort longer runs:

  • The hundred – Lie on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides with palms facing down. Inhale and lift your head, neck, shoulders and arms. At the same time, lift your knees and straighten your legs to make an angle of 45-degrees with the floor. Take five short breaths in and out moving your arms up and down. Repeat for 10 full breaths, each consisting of five inhales and five exhales.
  • The swan – Lie face down so that your palms are flat under your shoulders. Look down and keep your neck and spine inline. Inhale while slowly lifting your head, neck, shoulders and chest, at the same time, pressing your hands into the ground and bending your elbows slightly. Pull your shoulders back to open your chest. While exhaling, slowly lower down your chest, shoulders, neck, chin and head. Repeat ten times.
  • Standing Chest Expansion – Stand up straight with your arms at your sides. Keep shoulder-width distance between your feet. Bend your knees a little. Inhale and move your hands out and up so that your palms are facing each other with your biceps near your ears. Exhale and lower your arms back to your sides. Repeat four times, focusing on deep breaths.


Training Hacks to Increase Your Lung Capacity and Get You to the Finish Line

  • Run a longer distance at an easy pace.
  • Run more frequently each week.
  • Choose cross-training that involves cardiovascular exercises such as biking, swimming, skiing, etc.
  • Practice deep-breathing with Pranayama – a type of Yoga.
  • Consider altitude training.
  • Utilize respiratory training equipment to build endurance.
  • Focus on fast-finish long runs every other week. They prepare you for high-intensity runs even in a fatigued state.
  • Increase your cadence to around 180 to stop over-striding and increase your efficiency.
  • Run tall and don’t slouch.
  • Use strides where you accelerate for 20-30 seconds with around 95% of your maximum speed followed by an easy jog or walk until you are ready for the next one.

In a triathlon event where increasing your lung capacity helps sustain your stamina, planning to save every moment, including the triathlon transition,  is vital. Using the right triathlon gear saves transition time significantly.

JustWetsuit’s quality wetsuits for purchase and rent help you save every precious second, so consider a triathlon wetsuit that’s perfect for you.

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