Increasing Lung Capacity

The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Lung Capacity

Many sports in today’s action-packed world require a large amount of air to be successful. While there are ways to enlarge your lungs, you can also increase the air your lungs breathe and the efficiency with which oxygen is taken in. Practice these exercises every day and you will notice increased lung capacity.

Increase your lung capacity quickly

Breathe deep.

You can increase the amount of air your lungs absorb in a short amount of time without tedious exercise or training. The trick is to breathe evenly and deeply. Exhale fully and slowly. Practice it a few times before you start, don’t leave air in your lungs. This allows you to take a deeper breath on the next breath. Allow your diaphragm to drop by keeping your abdominal muscles relaxed. Your abdomen expands as your diaphragm lowers, giving your lungs more room to fill with air. Spread your arms out and keep them away from your body to allow your chest to expand.

Take a deep breath.

You should fill your lungs by 80-85% to give your body room to relax. You shouldn’t fill your lungs to their full capacity if it means your muscles will tighten and you’ll feel uncomfortable. Have a friend watch your breathing, if possible. You may faint, in which case your friend can respond accordingly. You don’t have to puff out your cheeks. The muscles of your face should be loose and relaxed; the muscles in the abdomen and diaphragm are the ones that work.

Splash water on your face.

Hold your breath while doing this. Scientists have found that splashing water on the face accelerates bradycardia, or slowing the heart rate, or the first phase of the diving reflex in mammals. Your body prepares for diving underwater, where it must regulate its heartbeat effectively and pump oxygen into the blood to stay alive. Use cold water, but not ice cold. Ice-cold water triggers another reflex that leads to hyperventilation or trying to breathe quickly. Hyperventilating prevents you from holding your breath for a long time.

Relax the muscles and hold your breath.

Try meditating or closing your eyes. The less energy you use, your body can hold its breath longer. Count to 100 in your head. Just focus on the number you are reciting in your mind and your goal of reaching 100. Record what number you get to until you can’t hold your breath any longer. This number will become the threshold for your next attempt.

Exhale slowly and repeat 3-4 times.

Don’t deflate too quickly. Exhale as slowly as possible in one steady breath. When you’ve practiced one repetition, start the entire exercise over. After 3-4 times, the lungs can hold more air than just twenty minutes before. Practicing this regularly also trains the lungs in the long term.

Try simple breathing exercises.

You can do these exercises at home, in the office, watching TV, etc. Blowing up balloons is a good way to increase your lung capacity. While you’re out for a walk, doing chores around the house, or having a moment off, practice by blowing up and deflating a balloon. Do this over and over; you should notice that your lungs can blow in more air, faster, and harder over time. Another method is to tape a long piece of paper (or tissue) to the tip of your nose and then try to keep it in the air by blowing for as long as possible. Take your time and if you keep practicing regularly, you will be able to keep the piece of paper in the air for much longer over time. Breathing exercises during everyday activities can be useful. Inhale for 2-20 seconds, exhale for 10-20 seconds and slowly increase the rate. Soon you’ll inhale for 45 seconds and exhale for 2 minutes if you practice enough! You can easily do this while driving, sitting in the office, watching TV, playing video games, doing paperwork, at school, or just when you’re bored! Try hyperventilating before holding your breath. Hyperventilating simply means breathing in and out very quickly. Note: hyperventilating before diving can be dangerous as the urge to breathe can be extended beyond the point at which you pass out!

Increase lung capacity through physical exercise

Practice in the water.

Exercising in the water adds some resistance to your exercise routine. Your body has to work to get enough oxygen into the blood, which makes for a good lung workout. Develop a normal stretching and weights routine out of the water. Compensate for the fact that the weights feel lighter when you’re surrounded by water. Practice this program for a few days until you feel comfortable. Go into the water. Submerge up to your neck and do the exercise in the water. This doesn’t seem to do anything, but don’t worry. Because of the blood in your chest cavity and the pressure on your body, you breathe shorter and faster when you exercise in water. Studies show that your air capacity is limited to around 75% during this time, and your body will try to compensate. If your training in the water lasts long enough, and you do it regularly, your airways become more effective, which increases your lung capacity.

Engage in vigorous cardiovascular activity.

Exercise is a great way to increase lung capacity. Challenge your body to exhaustion for about 30 minutes, making your lungs work hard. That hard work pays off in better lung capacity. Try aerobics. It may be surprised how much lung capacity you can develop from short intervals of intense exercise. Ride a bike. Pave your route with inclines. Riding uphill means your body has to pump more blood to your legs; the lungs deliver the oxygen to the blood. Run. Run on a treadmill to protect your knees and joints. Mix in sprints to make your lungs work extra hard. Swimming – The best sport to improve your condition. At peak performance, a swimmer’s lungs utilize oxygen three times better than the average person’s.

Train at a high altitude.

Training at higher altitudes is a surefire way to increase lung strength. Air at higher altitudes contains less oxygen, making the workout harder but ultimately more rewarding for the lungs. If you’re serious about increasing lung capacity, you should live at a high altitude while exercising. At 2500m above sea level, the oxygen content in the air is only 74% of that at sea level. This means the lungs must work harder to get the same amount of oxygen into the blood. When you return to lower altitudes, your body still has elevated red blood cell and hemoglobin counts—for about two weeks—meaning overall lung capacity is increased. Don’t train too hard at higher altitudes, this could lead to altitude sickness.

Exercises to increase your lung capacity over the long term

Become resilient.

Your lungs are responsive to exercise, so add some resistance training to your program to increase your lung capacity. Breathe in normally through your nose. Take deep breaths. Exhale through your mouth with your lips almost closed. Open them so that only a little air can flow out with resistance. Try this as often as possible. As a result, the air sacs in the lungs get used to holding the air longer, causing them to expand.

Breathe in deeper than your brain thinks you can.

Your brain naturally pays attention to the safety of your body, which works against pushing physical limits. But the body can do incredible things when the brain is convinced that everything is fine. Try this: Count to eight and breathe in until your lungs are full. After each count, you should be able to breathe in a little more. Keep counting from eight to sixteen, breathing in a little more each time. Feel your stomach expand. Your shoulders shouldn’t move. Hold your breath for a few seconds and exhale forcefully. If you feel empty, make a tsss sound for as long as possible. (This is called humming, it mimics the resistance of playing a wind instrument). Practice this regularly. When you train your brain to stretch your body’s limits, the amount of air you can breathe increases significantly.

Play a wind instrument.

Playing a wind instrument is a great way to exercise your lungs regularly while having a pleasant break from music. Learn to play a woodwind or brass instrument, such as the tuba, trumpet, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, or flute. This activity helps you control your breath and expand your lung capacity to use all of the alveoli. Play in a marching band or a moving company. This activity requires higher lung capacity due to the movement and play simultaneously and is quite healthy. You can also learn to sing. Singing works the diaphragm and can help with continuous breathing exercises. Of course, singers need really strong lungs.


You probably already know that smoking is harmful. However, you should also avoid smoky environments exposed to secondhand smoke, as doing so will still inhale smoke and decrease your lung capacity. In a pool, keep your chest submerged as deeply as possible and breathe through a hose. The further you are underwater, the more pressure there is on your chest, making breathing difficult. Always keep the hose afloat or you’ll end up with water in your lungs. Note that you may be unable to inhale if you are only about 1m under water. Don’t come to the top with lungs full of air; exhale before you come to the surface or risk barotrauma (this can happen at 2-3 meters or more).


When breathing underwater, maintain a certain depth and never hold your breath or inhale while surfacing. The air expands as you surface, and your lungs can rupture if you hold your breath. If you feel dizzy, continue breathing normally. Always swim with a partner or in a public area when doing breathing exercises.


About the Author


Linda Jeasie

Linda Jeasie is a writer and content editor with over a decade of experience covering consumer gadgets and mobile tech. Before going freelance, she got her start as an editor at, a coupon and review website. These days she writes about gaming, life hacks, apps and software, and financial subjects for a variety of publications.