The Beginner’s Guide To Reducing Your Air Consumption

Air consumption while diving is always a big topic of discussion. As it is always a disappointment to miss out on something when you have to ascend earlier than hoped. 

“What? You saw mantas? Unbelievable. I missed out because I had to start my safety stop.”

“I always get to 50 bar so quick! You always have so much air still when you come up…What’s your secret?”

It’s always painful when you miss out on your ultimate dream of seeing mantas in Komodo while diving in Indonesia.

So to kick start your life to better longer dives and better air consumption, here are some of our secrets.

Diving gear maintenance

Remember to service your gear often and check for problems or defects. This is something you should already be doing for your general scuba safety. Finding a qualified and quality gear maintenance service can be tricky. But if you need us we can point you in the right direction in Labuan Bajo. 

Sometimes you can notice a difference in the level of air because of gear not being airtight by leaking. This could be from old or perished o-rings or damaged connections.

The last thing to check is your mask. Always an important part of diving is having a comfortable mask, but also finding that right fit! Wearing an ill-fitting or a mask that is too tight or too loose could contribute to extra loss of air. Trial and error is the best way to solve this.

Get your neutral buoyancy down pat

Finding your neutral buoyancy is very important. Not only for your air consumption but your enjoyment of diving. You are taught to achieve neutral buoyancy during your Open Water Course and again in Advanced Open Water Courses. It takes time and practice to achieve perfect buoyancy. Especially if you travel often and dive in different countries and areas. Constantly changing type and temperature of the water can stutter learning.

Finding your ideal weight will show a considerable difference. Being overweighted while diving creates more drag. This takes more effort to push yourself through the water. The more effort you’re using, the more air you’re going to need to keep going.

Make sure you’re correctly weighted! If you’re too heavy you may use more air.

Practicing and mastering your perfect buoyancy takes time but will immensely improve your diving experience when you get it.

Breath deep, breath slow

Breathing, a skill you barely think or notice while on the surface. It may seem strange to practice the art of breathing. However, it is paramount to improving your air consumption.

One method of practising your breathing is the ultimate breathing technique. Breathe in for 4-6 seconds and breathe out for 8-10 seconds – never hold your breath. To make this process more enjoyable, think of one of your favourite tunes to hum. It brings more interest to the activity and also makes it hard to breathe out quickly.

Don’t believe me? Give it a go now.

In, 1…2…3…4 and out 1…2…3…4…5…8. Feel your lungs expand and fill with air and your body relax.

Breathing deeply and slowly gives your body a chance to absorb and use oxygen. Rapid breathing leaves your body needing to bring more and more to attempt to absorb more oxygen.

Moving slowly and breathing deeply is one way to improve your air consumption but also your buoyancy control.

Don’t let those nerves consume you

Dive more and dive more often. Become more comfortable.

Sometimes the more you think and focus on your air levels the worse it gets. The stress of practising and potentially letting your buddy down can be hard. Life and diving is always a learning curve, so take it easy on yourself. Take a deep breath and relax.

The trick is giant striding into the water and giving it a go. Being nervous in the water can lead to an increase in breathing more and using up more air.

Becoming more comfortable takes time and confidence. Building up your repertoire of diving experience will help this. Dive with different people, at different locations with different conditions.

Stay dive healthy

Being fighting fit and raring to go is very important. Working on being physically and mentally healthy will make it easier for you when diving.

If you are feeling fatigued and sleepy, that will help burn through your air quicker. Rest up the night before you plan on going diving, say no to those extra beers and turn in early. Flying internationally? Consider arriving early to spend an extra night before your dive day. Fight off any jetlag you might be sporting so you are fresh ready to dive.

Diving often with friends can change the whole learning experience and make it more enjoyable without making it feel like work.

Swim shallower, swim slow

Working on your swimming technique will make a big difference. It will change how much air you need to power yourself through the water.

Most divers find the frog kick method is better bang for your buck. When it comes to air consumption to propulsion compared to the normal up and down kick.

Swimming in a horizontal position with also improves your swimming technique. If your body is more in line with the direction you are swimming that will decrease the drag while moving. 

Keep those arms still! Waving and swimming with your arms uses more unnecessary power and energy thus more air. Keeping your hands still and together will help conserve that extra energy and air.

Become more streamlined

Experiment with your tapering and how you become streamlined in the water. Ensure any ties, such as your weight belt or gear is not hanging down or floating away. Pul BCD straps tighter so that your gear sits flush to your body. All of these can help you achieve a more streamlined form.

WIth your newfound tips and tricks go take on the world and enjoy your longer dives!

Stay warm

A big let down can be being cold while diving. If your body is fighting to stay warm against the cold, that burns a lot of energy. It will also cause your breathing to become more rapid. Take it from us, it doesn’t feel good spending your time in the water freezing and wishing you could get out. 

Investing in a quality warm and comfortable wetsuit will be your godsend. Especially when your favourite dive site is a little chilly and you don’t want to get FOMO – – fear of missing out. Otherwise, you can always give layering wetsuits a go, to boost your warmth factor.

Know your dive conditions

Our last top tip for improving your scuba diving air consumption is to know what conditions you’re about to jump into.

Having a solid knowledge of what currents and depth are ahead you will vastly help your dive path and plan. This is especially important so that you don’t find yourself fighting currents – this cutting your dive time in half. A practice that is paramount when diving in Komodo. Learn more about diving in Komodo’s currents.

Staying low and close to the reef is a sure way to avoid the worst currents and experience the coral reefs as the fish do. Be careful to not damage any of the coals with your gear, hands or fins! We take a lot of caution when diving, so not to regress any of the important coral conservation that’s underway in Komodo.

Still with us through all that? We know it can be daunting and figuring out where to start can be difficult. But take your time, get comfortable and keep breathing! 

Need a helping hand? Come visit us and let our talented instructors walk you through the process. 

You’re now on your way to better longer, more air-filled dives.

Written by Ebony Prescott
Pictures by Wander Deeper and Ebony Prescott

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