T Nation

Lung Capacity


Anyone have any suggestions about how to increase lung capacity?

I heard from a buddy to take breaks every 1 mile while running say 5 miles or so, breathe in deeply through the mouth and out through the nose... any ideas?


My first question: what is your goal? Why do you want to increase lung capacity?


Does that affect your answer?

The best way it seems is to hold your breath. Practice this and increase your time by one second each day or so. Try this for one week...Holding your breath for as long as you can 4 or 5 times each day.


Lung capacity won't affect how long you can hold your breath, it has to do with your tolerance to excess CO2 in the bloodstream. I think you actually only absorb about 20% of the oxygen in your lungs.

Hypoxic sets in the swimming pool are the way to go.


well, the reason i ask:

i play college soccer at a very competitive level, but i can only seem to last on the pitch for 20 minutes or so. after this, i am so exhausted that i have to be subbed out. kinda sucks, maybe it's just my cardio health. i also used to smoke a bit.. but i quit


Yes it does!

If someone is trying to become a better underwater swimmer I would suggest something different than if they were trying to become a better distance runner.



Then I would suggest doing "wind sprints" to increase your lung capacity.

Practice :20 sprints with a :60 slow jog in between. Try doing 10 of these and see how you feel. It might be too much or not enough based upon your current condition.

Make sure that the :20 sprints are all out! As you get better keep cutting back your :60 jog/rest time :5 at a time until you get to a rest of only :20.

Good Luck,



old School Hold your breath and do push ups


Zeb is on track with the windsprint. You should also be incorporating longer intervals, and steady-state anaerbic threshold runs at a decent clip for a few miles.


i just hold my breath during classes at school. i can hold it for 2 minutes 17 seconds lol


This is a great thread for me. As a singer, I'm incredibly concerned with lung capacity. I'm curious as to what people think I should do for my own cardio work:

I'm currently on the V-Diet and have fasted low intensity cardio (hour walks) in the morning, but also include HIIT during work-out days. Currently, I've been doing intensity progression at 3 minute intervals (about the length of a song). My current primary goal is cutting, although increasing lung capacity interests me greatly.

My current cardio program definately isn't optimal for my current fat-cutting goal, so should I be doing something more along the lines of 200y or 100y dashes?

I get the feeling (but what do I know?) that hypoxic exercises won't really suit my short-term needs (because I really just need air volume).

I'd love to hear people's thoughts. I've lurked on these boards for several months now, and seeing such a supportive community of driven athletes is truly inspiring.


I asked my university anatomy professor about lung capacity back in first year, and this brought back the memory. His response was that your lung capacity is pretty set; it may increase slightly, but what you really want is an ingrowth of capiliaries. If you've ever microscoped a lung, you'll see a lot of the area is deprived of any blood to collect the oxygen. Increasing this blood flow through capiliary ingrowth is where you gain it all and where most change occurs.


Check out the powerlung sport; it won't improve your lung capacity but it will help you breathe more forcefully.


So how do you do that?


your goal is to improve your soccer performance so a form of long time interval training would help you. this training should last for as long as your soocer half and should include full sprints, jogs, and walking. The distances and intervals all depend on what you think is appropriate. Do this then rest for as long as halftime lasts and repeat your efforts. Your goal is to slowly decrease the time of the walking parts. You need to start off at a very conservative, (long walking and jogging intervals, short sprint intervals) to try to maintain a consistent performance throughout the training session. Obviously this type of training is very difficult and should only be done in the off season where you have ample recovery time and have no fear of detrimental game performance.

I think this form of cardio vascular training is better then straight running because it teaches the soccer player how to recover and produce sprinting power again. This goes in line with hockey players running 400 meters because it mimicks the time they are on the ice for a typical shift.

something else that can help is to perform interval training using low intensity speed squats (body weight). this will allow an adaptation to lactic acid flushing of the leg musculature. I would not recommend too much of this because of knee joint health. I don't like doing too many repetitive motions for that joint considering i'm talking about full squats. along the same lines training using the running motion directly targets the full body muscles that need targeting in soccer. laters pk


Good post, pkradgreek.


sorry to hijak

what about former smokers?

I smoked for about 15 years and stopped about 2 years ago (31 yrs old now)

I read that over time your lungs start to repair them selves..

any way to help that along? (above and beyond, not smoking, diet and exercise)


thank you very much for all your help. the interval training is looking like the way to go. cheers