Exhalation effort at max HR?

How hard should it be to force air out of your lungs near or at max HR during the last minute or so of a ramp test?

I find it takes a huge amount of mental effort and is very taxing to the respiratory muscles. Is this normal?

I struggle to relate to this question unless I’m misunderstanding it.

I find that breathing gets painful, and my airways sometimes hurt a little after I go really deep. But I don’t ever think that the breathing out in particular is hard to do.

If I’m at vo2 max, I need lots of oxygen, therefore I need to breathe in, therefore I need to breathe out, therefore it happens, until I stop.

Simplified version: How much force from the respiratory muscles should it take to completely empty your lungs when you’re going hard?

None. Exhalation is mostly passive. Just relax.

I’d guess probably not a lot, compared to the force the muscles in your legs are producing at that point.

If it becomes hard to exhale, you might be hyperventilating.

This is exactly opposite of everything I have heard about breathing technique.


For the last minute of a ramp test? Yes, I think that is normal.

Yeah agreed - based on Coach Chad’s workout text I try and make a conscious effort to actively exhale (by drawing my stomach in) and clear as much CO2 out as possible.

That said I never seem to have a particularly fast breathing rate when I’m working hard on a ramp test or VO2 efforts - is that a problem? Maybe I’m not actually working hard enough? :man_shrugging:


I mean, force is relative, but I suspect I could bear the burning legs for much longer if it wasn’t for the sheer amount of mental focus it takes to utilize 100% of my available lung capacity in order to sustain said effort.

OTOH I might just have asthma…

So not true. Especially if one has EIB.

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I don’t know how medical conditions affect this.
But in my understanding, when breathing in, the diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs contract, which enlarges the thorax and expands the lungs, which draws air in. When the muscles relax, the thorax reduces in volume, and air is driven out. There isn’t normally an active muscle contraction to breathe out.

  • True, in normal cases.
  • Exercise at the levels we commonly experience is not “normal” in that sense. As such, taking an active role and making direct effort to exhale has notable benefits.
  • As with many things, this is conditional and no single answer or action works for all cases or needs.

When my breathing becomes restricted due to asthma, I have a difficult time exhaling. Sometimes I have to consciously force exhaling to empty my lungs so I can breathe more fresh air while inhaling. If I have to do this a lot, I get stitches in my abs. It sucks.

It sounds like what you are referring to is normal breathing, which when you are using tidal volume. That is the amount of air that goes in an out without any extra effort.

What I am talking about is using the forced vital capacity, which is when you use maximal expiration force. It’s basically using your full lung capacity.