Breathing techniques scuba diving, how to use less air

by spotmydive

While scuba-diving, people often consider that the best diver is the one who comes out with the most air in his tank. This is what we say at the beginning, when we want to learn scuba diving. So yes, using less air while scuba diving is important. But, sorry for the small lungs, although a low air consumption is an important quality, it is not the highest quality of a scuba diver.

Beyond optimizing the number of bars used in scuba diving, it is important to manage your breathing well to avoid some of the dangers of scuba diving such as decompression.

Why would you want to lower your air consumption while scuba diving?

Optimizing your scuba diving air consumption has many advantages:

  • First of all, this obviously allows you to spend more time diving underwater.
  • Moreover, it gives you a safety margin in order not to finish the dive on your last 10 bars.
  • Finally when you dive in a group, it allows you not to force the group to stop the dive because you reach the 50 bars while everyone is still at 100 bars.

How to consume less air while diving


So, lets be honest, it is not by diving 5 times a year that you will become the fittest. Diving keeps fit but, unless you do drift dive against the current regularly, you will not lose your extra pounds.

However, it is important to be relatively fit to practice this sport. Even the fact of garing up is pretty physical as your tank is heavy and your suit is sticky. You don’t want to start your dive breathless. In addition, many dive around the world are drift dives where you will have to palm seriously. Although it is not necessary to be a swimming champion to dive,t it is important to know how to swim.

Concretely, to consume less air under water, it is necessary not to overheat and to maintain a small level of effort. And therefore, being fit is probably the most important way to use less air while scuba diving.


Often, in terms of size, men tend to buy their suit a little bit to large as they believe that they might get a bit fater or thicker in the future. On the other hand, women usually buy small diving suit that make them look sexy and fit. There is no sexism in this remark, just experience. The problem is that, if your diving suit or your BCD is too big or too small, it will directly cause more effort and/or breathing difficulties. It is therefore important to choose the best diving suit with the right fit.


What I am going to say makes sense, but if you know that you are going on Richelieu Rock in Thailand or on the Tiputa pass in Polynesia, do not take the nice looking small but fancy fins. Yes, because there is a lot of current. So, take your big black fins that makes you look like a giant toad. You might look stupid but you will save a lot of energy and air. It is obvious, but you must use and find the right fins for the right dive.

In addition, think about the water temperature. This seems obvious again, but thermal protection plays an important role in air consumption. Always remember that underwater, heat loss is about 20 times faster than in the air and the cold is clearly not your best dive buddy. To warm up, the body will burn a lot of fat and sugar and, although the idea may seem an easy way to lose some extra kilos, it necessarily leads to higher air consumption. An appropriate combination will therefore keep you warm and will keep your air consumption low.


In addition, many divers bring loads of gears just because it is better to have it and not to need it than not to have it when it is needed. So, indeed, this may seem to be relevant but there is no point in shielding the pockets of your BCD with gadgets if you do a small reef dive at 30 feet deep. Most of the time, divers don’t use their toys and it can even be counterproductive and strongly impact air consumption. Take only what you need.

In addition, the BCD and weighting are intimately linked. So, if you have too much weight, you will tend to inflate and deflate your diving vest regularly which consumes air and makes your movements more difficult under water. In addition, if you are too heavy, will have to make more effort to move. This will inevitably lead to high air consumption while dive. This is not easy because we often tend to prefer being too heavy than not enough, but the ideal is to carry a minimum weight.


Be streamlined, aerodynamic. Do not forget to put your octopus in your pocket. It’s a simple physics. Imagine the difference in air friction on a big bulky truck and a streamlined sports car. In the water, it’s the same thing. When you pass your PADI open water. In other words, at PADI level 1 or equivalent, you are told to always dive with your snorkel. It sounds stupid and useless but when you put your regulator in the mouth on the surface waiting for everyone to be ready for the descent, you consume a lot of air. It would be a shame to start your dive with 20 bar less than the others, so take your snorkel. In addition, I return quickly to the issue of weight. As you learned in your diving lessons, weighting also depends on the sea you dive into PADI Open Water Chapter 2. So do not hesitate to ask your divemaster or diving instructor about the weight you should carry.


The best way to lower your air consumption is to improve your buoyancy. For those with good memory, you probably learned several exercises during you Open Water that teaches you to achieve neutral buoyancy. Buoyancy is fundamental for your scuba diving air consumption because when you go up or down you must either fill or empty your BCD.

Beyond air consumption, the fact of not controlling its stability can lead to risks in scuba diving. So take the time to train yourself to master your buoyancy. By the way, if you need to inflate your BCD and feel comfortable underwater, use the skills of your level 1 scuba diving and fill your vest with your mouth, you would save air.


Beyond the fact that apnea, is not optimal in terms of air consumption, it can be dangerous and present risks such as decompression or create a feeling of stress while diving. Indeed, in apnea, your blood cells do not get the renewed air they need and your body will produce carbon dioxide toxic. This will create an imbalance and your brain will generate a stress situation that will cause shortness of breath and therefore increase the consumption of air under water.


Inhale slowly and deeply. Remember, diving is an anti-stress remedy that should look like a yoga class or a good walk in the park. Do not shake, move little, let slip. The more you move, the more you use air.

We talk a lot about the dangers of scuba diving, but it is above all a pleasure and there are very few accidents in recreational diving. So, relax underwater. Breathe deeply, preferably with the lower lungs, like yoga and observe what is around you. Do not think about your breathing, just let the air out of your body normally.

Stress is the main cause of increased heart rate. Stress also tends to increase physical activity and, among other things, cause cramps. It is also important for the novice diver to know how to handle a cramp underwater. Often, the stress is created by the diver himself, especially when learning to scuba dive. It’s perfectly normal, breathing underwater is not natural. But do not worry, millions of divers have been there and you are not alone. Your guide and your dive buddy are there to take care of you.


Stress comes from anxiety. The more prepared you are, the less anxious you will be and the less air you consume. Specifically, before the dive, do your safety check and make sure that the second regulator of your dive buddy works. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor to introduce you to detailed diving plan to be ready when you pass through a canyon or a strong current. He should normally present the profile of the dive by himself but this is not always the case.

By the way, consider buying a dive computer. This will reassure you about your depth and will keep you informed when you get on or off too fast. It’s very reassuring.


In the first chapter of your first dive class, you learned that the deeper you go, the more you consume. Indeed, P x V = C is Boyle’s law. When diving, you breath air at ambient pressure and therefore the consumption depends on the depth. As a result, the pressure increases by one bar every ten meters because of the weight of the water column. So, to consume less, nothing simpler, do not go down too deep.

Indeed, if you are always the first to empty your dive tank, try to always stay a little less deep than the rest of the group. This will allow you to consume less air than the rest of the group and, therefore, consume less air compared to other divers.

That’s it, so now you know what to do deal with your high air consumption underwater while scuba diving. Keep in mind that you can train as much as you want, but a thin and small girl has a considerable advantage over a two-meter-high basketball player.

Do you like this article? A comment, another advice, a question or an opinion? Do not hesitate to leave us a message.