As a general rule for physical exertion, continuous, rhythmic, and controlled breathing is essential. This includes short "sprint" type bursts of activity as well as long "endurance" periods of activity.

When it comes to ensuring or maximizing your oxygen intake, it seems more natural to take one long breath, although many athletes and depictions of athletes (entertainment) often end up using two shorter breaths to constitute a single intake of air.

Which method provides the most efficient/maximum oxygen intake during physical exertion? Is there a better, alternative method?

Method 1:

innnnnnnnnnnn (one long, deep breath in)

outttttttttttttt (one long, pushing breath out)

Method 2:

innnn innnn (two short, staccato breaths in)

outtttt (one short, quick breath out... although could be two, but I find typically one is enough)

Note: the two methods seem to be at odds. One long breath feels like more intake, but takes longer and this can be difficult to maintain in some circumstances as exhaustion sets in. Two short breaths feels quicker, tends to encourage a rhythm, and seems to get the job done, but does it really give you as much intake?

  • Can you comment where you've seen actual athletes breathing this way? Even weightlifters hyperventilating don't breathe in/in/out. – JohnP May 13 '16 at 14:56
  • I've personally seen runners do short, quick breaths, and I've tried it myself. I'm having trouble finding good video clips of this, but here's one (this video is advertising it more as an exercise at this moment in the video, but it at least portrays the general idea). This is certainly not restricted to only weightlifters. Note that this is also a topic of interest to martial artists, and I was trying to find a jiujitsu clip that might demonstrate a similar idea. – tniles May 13 '16 at 19:34
  • Lots of athletes do short quick breaths to hyperventilate, theey are still in/out sequence though. – JohnP May 14 '16 at 2:58
  • @JohnP: what do you think of migrating this post to fitness.stackexchange? I wanted an answer that was more medically-driven, but after waiting this long I'm wondering if it won't be better served in the fitness area. – tniles May 20 '16 at 21:32
  • I can certainly migrate it, but I don't think you're going to get much better of an answer there. Breathing, especially of this type, is highly individual, and everyone has their own preferences. I can look, but I'm not aware of any studies done on breathing patterns and efficiency (But then again, I've never really looked for them either). If you want me to migrate it, I will. – JohnP May 21 '16 at 0:45

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