One of the most overlooked aspect of improving your performance on the trail is breathing and posture. Stuff like heat rate zones, power levels and VO2Max dominate most discussions on ways to improve your ability to pedal harder and longer when, for most riders, it is these two things that are really holding them back.

In fact, I’ve realized that optimal breathing reinforces optimal posture and optimal posture allows for optimal breathing. If you have bad posture you compromise your lung capacity and this, in turn, doesn’t allow your breathing to help with maintaining your posture as you fatigue.

As your posture breaks down your lung capacity and breathing becomes even further compromised, leading to accelerated metabolic fatigue.

But if you can learn to focus on your posture and breathing while training and riding you can prolong how long it is until this happens, keeping your performance levels higher longer into rides. In fact, I’ve found that simply going back to focusing on my breathing and posture has helped me ride faster as I fatigue without trying to ride faster.

In this video I share some more thoughts on this subject. If you aren’t focusing on this stuff when you train and ride then you are really making your job so much harder on the trail.

I know it isn’t as much fun as talking about training zones and cool strength training exercises but the truth is that this stuff will do more for your performance than just about anything else I talk about. Once you know how to use your posture and breathing to drive your movement you’ll find everything you do stronger and more balanced, resulting in less fatigue which improves your endurance.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this post please leave a comment below and if you liked this post please click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

3 thoughts on “How focusing on breathing and posture can instantly improve your performance on the trail.

  1. gato says:

    Paying attention to breathing and posture has resulted in more improvement in my MTB riding than any other skill or conditioning routine has achieved. Most remarkable is how much more fuel in the tank I have toward the end of my rides. This gives gives me the opportunity to exert more effort in the early parts of the rides instead of holding back. I also recover faster between high-effort portions of the trail. Therefore, I’m able to conquer technical challenges more adeptly and consistently. It has improved by STRAVA stats, but more importantly, it has made my rides more FUN, from start to finish.

    I’m still learning, so I have to consciously think about breathing while I’m riding. The most important cue for me is to start consciously breathing before I start pedaling at the trailhead. The next most important cue is to breathe through my nose and keep my mouth shut. Whenever I get gassed on the trail, I concentrate on regaining my respiration control. Sometimes that requires slowing down the pedaling.

    Thank you, James, for pointing this out to me.

  2. Chris Doolittle says:

    So true, James. Proper breathing on the bike gets you more oxygen and releases more CO2. Consider Wim Hof Method of breathing to increase lung capacity. Also consider Alternate foot breathing. Example: breath in for 2 beats in sync with your pedaling, three out. Or, you can do 3 in and 4 out. the point is by always breathing out more, you are clearing more CO2. You will also with your breath -in alternate between both feet, giving more power to your weaker leg and increasing your pedaling output and efficiency. Swimmers do this to great effect.

  3. Ricky Schmidt says:

    Great post James, I love your content. I have been trying to improve my fitness for years. Mountain biking completely changed how I look at fitness and body health. Mid 2019 I came to the realization that my breathing habits were terrible on and off the bike. It wasn’t my strength holding me back, it was my breathing. I have spent tons of time researching proper posture and breathing. I still battle posture on a daily basis and I have been slowing my workouts down to focus more on breathing while working out, rather then hammering out sets. I have noticed huge improvements in my breathing. It’s amazing how much it impacts your life. Less anxiety, more energy, more focus, its a total game changer. On the bike, I can ride way longer and way harder then in previous years. I used to bonk and fatigue during rides, I don’t even remember the last time I did, some rides I even feel stronger at the end.

    You had a breathing expert on your podcast, sorry I don’t recall the name, but he had some much great insight. I actually listened to it twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Thanks for the great content James, keep it up!

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