The Best Workouts to Boost Lung Capacity

13 September, 2020
These workouts help to boost lung capacity. This isn't just helpful for sports, but also health in general. It also improves the respiratory system.
 

It’s possible to boost your lung capacity by working out. However, you can’t do this overnight. In reality, it takes persistent exercise to modify the dynamics of your lungs when inhaling and exhaling.

Lung capacity is the amount of air that the lungs can hold in one breath. There, the oxygen is concentrated and distributed to the cells that carry out their metabolic processes. Under normal conditions, the lungs handle between five and six liters of air per breath.

In athletes, it increases lung capacity. Doing sports frequently can lead to conditions where you need up to 100 liters of air to meet the demands. Therefore, training that helps your lung tissue is essential.

Breathing technique

Breathing is an automatic reflex. We all breathe consistently and without thinking because the body is prepared to do so. Otherwise, we wouldn’t survive.

When we’re little, no one needs to teach us breathing techniques because we breathe naturally. In any case, there are methods to make it more efficient and help the flow of oxygen. That way, tissue cells get enough of this gas.

The air that enters with each breath feeds your metabolism as fuel. For sports, these processes are accelerated by demands. Therefore, breathing techniques prepare the alveoli to hold more air in less time, especially by accelerating the frequency.

While at rest they breathe no more than 15 times per minute, athletes can take that amount to more than 40 times. In this way, each breath multiplies the end result and the cells have oxygen all the time.

 

Additionally, the chest muscles play a key role in the dynamic. A correct breathing technique involves expanding the rib cage to its maximum capacity with a good descent of the diaphragm. This is the tissue that forms the basis for the lungs and can help them to increase their volume.

A woman running to increase lung capacity.

Exercises to boost lung capacity

In addition to the correct technique and the sport that you choose, there are small workouts to increase lung capacity that can help both professional and amateur athletes. Also, people with respiratory diseases can benefit from them.

1. Running intervals

For runners, a good technique is running intervals. Not only does it help improve muscle performance, but also changes the breathing dynamics. If you do it regularly, it’ll also help increase lung capacity.

You make these intervals during the runs. They consist of running with high intensity for about ten minutes, then slowing down until you feel that the respiratory and heart rates stabilize. Then, you do another intense ten minutes.

The series of intervals depends on your individual training. You can do three or even more. Also, modify the repetitions according to your training schedule.

 

2. Apnea

Apnea is the interruption of breathing for a given moment. In sports training, you can use this practice in other exercises, at intervals, in order to stimulate the lungs to learn to retain air.

You don’t have to do it for a long amount of time, but you need to repeat them in small series. Lots of people do it before starting the rest of the workout as part of a warm-up.

3. Concentration to enhance lung capacity

There are forms of connection with respiratory dynamics that are based on concentration. A classic example is yoga and it’s different breathing techniques.

For sports training, this form of yoga is useful as a process for improving lung capacity. You need to take long, deep breaths with a high level of awareness of what you’re doing. Concentration is key for this technique since you’re aware of the air you’re breathing in.

4. Balloon inflation

This training to increase lung capacity is helpful even for patients with COPD and asthma. Pulmonologists recommend that these people do it so that the lung tissue increases its ability to retain oxygen.

A teenager blowing up a balloon.

This technique is very simple, and all you need is one balloon. Blow up the balloon, let it deflate, then blow it up again. By working against an opposing resistance, the thoracic muscles learn to overcome that obstacle.

 

However, leave adequate recovery spaces that don’t lead to hypercapniaIn other words, this is when you have a lot of carbon dioxide in the blood.

More training leads to increased lung capacity

In short, training to improve lung capacity tends to make better use of the oxygen in the air. Once the lungs have enough elasticity to increase the liters of air that enter, the cells will benefit immediately.

It’s important to sustain the exercise over time. That way, your lung tissues stretch in the long term. Once established, it’s hard to turn back and lose what you’ve gained.

 
  • Montejo, Yeny Marlies Traba, and Wilson Alberto Mora León. Los ejercicios físicos terapéuticos y su influencia en pacientes con enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica. Orientaciones metodológicas. Opuntia Brava 10.4 (2018): 116-123.
  • Martínez, Fernández, and Francisco de Asís. Periodization of apnea training. (2016).
  • EDITORIALES, NOVEDADES. YOGA PARA DEPORTISTAS. Rev. int. med. cienc. act. fís. deporte 18.69 (2018).
  • Zamora, Raúl Mazorra, Froilan Palenzuela, and Vicky Morenza. La función pulmonar en los deportistas. Revista Cubana de Medicina 6.3 (2019).
  • Pulgar Muñoz, Susana. Incidencia del tipo de ejercicio físico y los hábitos de vida en la percepción de salud respiratoria y la capacidad pulmonar en población adulta. Diss. 2017.