Can't take full breaths

Since restarting structured training (I am still new at it), I have been trying to do the from belly breaths that coach Chad encourages. This has led me to focus on an issue I first visited the Doctor for when I was 10 years old.

Most of my breaths can only be taken to about 90% of capacity. It’s hard to describe. Every so often (maybe 1 in 20), I am able to take a truly full deep breath and it always feels amazing. Is this normal?

I visited the Dr about this issue as a kid, but don’t recall the outcome. I vaguely remember something about an inhaler (which I never used), but honestly could be totally imagining this part. I am considering making another appointment but wondering if I am just overthinking things. I mean, I can breathe just fine - usually struggle in the hard workouts due to muscle fatigue/soreness rather than from breathing frantically.

Does every breath where you take the effort to make a deep one successful?

First thing first, definitely check with your doctor if you suspect a medical issue is preventing your from breathing fully. Better to be safe than sorry.

I can say without a doubt that breathing for maximum performance does not come naturally to me. I have to make a conscious effort to maximize my breathing during higher intensity intervals. It does improve over time so long as you make the effort.

Many of the tips that you see during the in ride instructions can help. Letting go of unnecessary tension, especially in the upper body will allow your diaphragm to work more effectively. Same with finding a rhythm that meshes well with your pedal strokes, this can have a major impact especially if your positioning is very low and/or you’re carrying a bit of extra weight around your belly. And probably the biggest is to focus on the exhale, if you focus on the inhale instead you might find yourself halving a bit of dead time right at the end, this is not productive. Right or wrong, I’ll let out a grunt, it seems to help me really push out that spent air.

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I second the advice that it is worth consulting with your doctor again since it’s been so long.

I will also add that I recently read the book “Breathing for Warriors” by Dr. Belisa Vranich and Brian Sabin. I picked it up because it was recommended by Coach Chad in one of the more recent podcast episodes, maybe two months ago. It was a fantastic read and has improved my training. It features lots of exercises and guides to improve and strengthen your breathing and I definitely notice that I am breathing better on the bike and in my day-to-day. I totally recommend it

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