How to Improve your Air Consumption

Conserving your air to extend your bottom time is often a common aim of all levels of divers. Many have suggested flawed theories of how to achieve this but the solution is remarkably simple. Let's start with what not to do. Don't skip breathe - that's trying to take only every other breath, it is essentially holding your breath underwater which we all know is a definite no. Don't just buy a bigger capacity cylinder this only masks the problem rather than solves it. That said some people will just naturally use more air than others so cylinder choice is to some degree inevitable. Don't detune your regulator to become harder breathing you need as much air as you need, getting your equipment to provide only a proportion of what you need is a recipe for an accident (read negligent). The fact is we were all taught how to improve air consumption, but when learning the motor skills of diving these points are easily missed. Here are the key points to reducing your air consumption:
  1. Reduce drag, streamline your equipment. Don't have lots of dangling stuff hanging off you, tuck slates and bags into pockets.
  2. Improve your body position. Make sure you are horizontal in the water, like a bullet going through the water you want the smallest amount of area cutting through the water.
  3. Use an easy breathing regulator. Having a good quality regulator you trust and like the breathe of will help massively.
  4. Breathe properly, slow deep breaths. You need to make sure you move as much old air out of your lungs and fresh in. Although this may seem like good way to use more air, you need to use the air you have as efficiently as possible. Proper breathing is essential.
  5. Don't be neutrally buoyant. Bit controversial this one, we are taught to be neutrally buoyant, we actually need to be very slightly negatively buoyant otherwise it can be awkward to maintain depth with changes in cylinder pressure during the dive.
  6. Relax, possibly the single biggest factor in improving air usage. It's not something you can really try to do, it just has to happen and it only really happens as you gain experience and time underwater. Ironically the more you try to relax the less effective this is, it just has to happen. Consider it falling in love, you can't force it, it just happens!
  7. Don't obsess over your air consumption. If you use a lot of air it is easy for this to become a worry prior to the dive. You will spoil the dive for others if you use your air quickly is a common concern. You have to breathe! You use what you use. Yes you may use your air much quicker than others but without getting dives in you won't relax and gain confidence and experience which in time will become the exact things which improve your air consumption over time.
  Scuba diving is about enjoying ourselves, worrying is not a great factor for enjoyment. So worrying about having vacuum cleaners for lungs won't help! As I said above you use as much air as you use. I hope these tips will prove useful, if you have any other suggestions or feedback please comment below.

1 comment

  • You missed the obvious advice.
    Go diving as much as possible – being dive fit helps with everything else.

    Also, don’t fin hard if you don’t need to. Go slow, you’ll see a lot more.

    Martin Pratt

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