When it comes to proper breathing technique on the treadmill or during your outdoor run, "the main thing is to find a rhythmic breathing pattern that works for you," says Flagstaff, Arizona-based running coach Greg McMillan. Follow his tips for a better cardio workout.
- Keep it steady. A good approach is the 2:2 method, McMillan says, which means breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. That works well for running (or doing something like the elliptical machine) at a moderate pace.
- Increase for interval training. For a faster pace (such as during an interval), you'll need to increase the frequency to something like a 1:1, he says. Your breathing may be shallower (you don't have time to take deep breaths) but it can still be efficient.
- Exhale excess CO2. If it feels like you can't catch your breath, it means you are building up too much carbon dioxide, and need to focus on blowing it off, he says. Your instinct may be to keep taking deep breaths IN, but you'll get rid of the CO2 more efficiently (and be able to catch your breath) if you focus on blowing the air OUT.
- Listen to your lungs. Tune in to your breath to gauge your workout intensity. If you're really struggling to catch your breath, chances are that you should go slower instead of increasing the intensity. Stay mindful to the signs your body is sending you.