Boost your performance in your next mountain bike race by following this simple breathing tip.
Perform a few deep and slow inhalations and exhalations to steady your breathing and bring your heart rate back under control after you’ve just ridden a demanding section of trail that’s really got you huffing and puffing.
Likewise, do the same thing, some deep and slow breaths on approach to the next demanding section of trail to steady that heart rate, and get your composure back before your next big effort.
You don’t need to breathe super-slow, just slower than you currently are, to return your breathing to a more comfortable and sustainable rhythm sooner.
Where you can, also straighten up in the saddle and hold your head high at the same time as breathing deeply. If the trail is smooth enough you can even ride with your fingertips on the bar grips for a short way, as shown in the video below.
Riding on your fingertips will help you achieve a nice upright posture, straightening your airway and expanding those lungs to maximize the effect that those deeper inhalations and exhalations provide.
Sitting so upright in the saddle might feel a bit odd at first, but the benefits are well worth it, even if you can only do it for ten meters after you’ve hit the top of a hard climb. And best of all
You can use this tip to your advantage everywhere
- on a flat section of trail just before the next big climb, demanding downhill, or rockgarden
- on the open trail to compose yourself and get your breathing to a comfortable rate just before you slip into that tight, twisty and physical singletrack, and
- you can even sneak in a few deep in and out breaths where a climb flattens out for a short distance half way up, before the trail heads up again
The video below shows how to use this mountain bike racing tip at the top of one big climb and before another. Check it out so that you’ll know exactly what to do to improve your breathing performance and
Race with these 3 Great Benefits
Controlling your breathing will provide you with three Major performance enhancing benefits:
- the deeper breathing expels the stale air that’s sitting in the bottom of your lungs from all your short hard breathing,
- it helps you relax your body and mind, helping you re-gain composure and focus on the next section of trail more easily, and
- it accelerates your recovery between hard efforts by lowering your heart rate quicker than it otherwise would
In the video example below, controlled breathing helps me recover from the previous climb quicker, which allows me to hit the next climb feeling a lot fresher. And because I’ve started the second climb with a heart rate lower than I otherwise would have, I can climb further before I start breathing heavier or reach maximum heart rate.
Super Tips to Maximize every breath and help You mountain bike Faster
Avoid over-breathing – Even when you’re miles past the tough sections in a race, you’ll often find yourself huffing and puffing and over-breathing when you don’t really need to.
Try to recognize those situations and use this racing tip to bring your breathing rhythm back to a more comfortable and sustainable rate. Most times you can still keep the same race pace, while dropping your heart rate 10 to 15 beats per minute to assist endurance.
Scrap the Slump – Avoid slumping over the bike, no matter how tired and fatigued you may feel. Slumping on the bike as shown in the video cramps your lungs, restricts your breathing airway and puts pressure on your spine. All of which stall your ability to recover quickly. On top of that, slumping tells other competitors that you’re exhausted - a perfect time for them to sprint away!
A Good Breath Out – Exhalation is just as important as inhalation, so remember to breathe out deeply to expel all that stale air sitting in the bottom of your lungs
Avoid the Escalator – follow this mountain bike racing tip and you’ll reduce the chance of your average heart rate escalating more and more with each successive hard effort