While your air consumption will definitely get better the more experience you gain diving, there are still quite a few steps you can take to reduce yours aside from that. It’s kind of like when you go on a jog with someone who has better stamina than you; you’re huffing and puffing while they have a ton of air handy! We have all of the best techniques right here to ensure you have the best diving experience possible so don’t go anywhere!
There are two kinds of issues when it comes to your rate of air consumption. One, is if you have very poor air consumption or are a beginner at diving. Two, is if you’re already an experience diver who wants to improve even further on their consumption.
While you’re just sitting around your house relaxing, take out your phone. Make sure you’re breathing as you normally would, and count how many breaths you take in a single minute. Now, next time you’re in shallow water on a dive where you feel comfortable, kneel down in about 20-30 feet of water.
Make sure you stay still for a couple of minutes. After you’re settled, track how many breaths you take in a minute and compare this to the number you got when you measured breaths sitting at home.
It’s very likely that you’re taking much deeper breaths than your body really requires. Did you know that heavy breathing actually makes us more uncomfortable? By taking less breaths you will more likely remain calm and will feel more natural underwater.
Okay, so let’s say you’re already an experienced diver and have more or less an average amount of air consumption. Is it possible to improve? Absolutely! There’s always room for improvement when it comes to scuba diving. Let’s borrow some insight from freedivers to get a look at how.
When we’re underwater, we usually don’t even think about how we are breathing. That makes sense, considering it’s an unnatural environment for us and we’re usually more stimulated by the fact that we’re in the ocean surrounded by new animals, plants, etc.
However, if you were to actually pay attention to your breathing, you’d likely notice that you take the same length of time to breathe in as breathing out. What this means is that you are bringing air out of your tank about 50% of the time. But what if you could lower that number to around 30% or even 20%? That would make an enormous difference!
Okay, so once you’re back on dry land and comfortable at home, take a breath from your diaphragm. When you breathe, try to make sure your chest isn’t moving – only your stomach. Take a slow diaphragm breath, which should be around 2-3 seconds long.
Then, you’ll exhale very slowly from around 8-15 seconds. You want to make sure this all feels comfortable and not like you’re desperate for breath. Practicing this method will feasibly get you down to that 20% we were just talking about!
If you’re a heavier or larger person overall, then you’re simply going to run out of air before your smaller counterparts. If you follow a deeper profile or don’t receive as large of a tank fill as your diving buddy then you’re likely going to spend air quicker than them.
- Swim Slower – Did you know that doubling your speed takes 4x the energy? This translates into using much more air. Of course, there will be moments where you need to kick harder, like in a heavy current. However, whenever you can, use a line. Hand-over-hand descents that are free of finning will help save you both your energy and air. Let your dive fins do the work.
- Hold Your Position – Keep your position horizontal with minimal BC inflation to keep yourself propelling forward with the least effort needed. Staying neutrally buoyant is important here.
- Kick Correctly – Really work on your kicks and finning form if you want to conserve air and energy, too. Keep knees straight, kicking from the hips. This is going to take some additional core strength and glute strength, but you’ll get there. Focusing on ab work and squats when you’re on dry land helps significantly.
- Take Off Weight – If you happen to be overweighted, you’ll need more air in your BCD in order to be neutral. As an inflated BC is bigger, you’ll expend more energy and air to help move it through the water.
- Stay Calm – Quite possibly the easiest way to use up your air is by panicking. You may not even be aware that you’re stressed out or feeling anxious so this means you need to keep a slow and steady breathing pattern while also monitoring the pressure of your gas tank.Also check your dive computer and gauges early on and check that of your buddy, too. If you’re diving with any kids, make sure to check theirs regularly.
Many of these methods can be improved upon by first practicing them over and over again on land or in more safe, shallow waters. Improving your form, positioning, and breathing will greatly help reduce your air consumption as well as checking your gear before you dive and while diving.
We hope that our guide has been able to help you recognize what you need to improve on and address any errors you may be committing. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again shortly!