5 Crucial Steps to Reduce Air Consumption

SCUBA Diving

Ranelle Ivens


Ranelle’s addiction to SCUBA started in 2004. From a young age she has been fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living within it. Her Ultimate dive dream is to swim with Orcas and to dive the world. Ranelle is a certified PADI Specialty Instructor and spent 3 years in university studying Science and Biology.

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To stay in that place where time slows down, where you are weightless and where nature constantly surprises you. To be there for even just a minute longer to savor that blissful feeling is what every diver wants. We all know that when the needle on our gauge falls too far that our time is up, and must return to our other reality. It always happens too fast. Lucky for us, there is one thing that we can always improve. Reduce air consumption.

To stay in that place where time slows down, where you are weightless and where nature constantly surprises you. To be there for even just a minute longer to savor that blissful feeling is what every diver wants.

How to Reduce Air Consumption

If you reduce air consumption you have more time before your tank runs low. Which means more time underwater, or at least as much as your computer or dive tables will allow. If you are running out of air before you are running out of bottom time, you’ve got room for improvement. How do we go about doing that? Keep reading.

You are not a flying

Even though it may feel like it sometimes. You are not a bird and you are not in the sky. When underwater many divers like to use their arms to swim. If you are one of these divers then stop. Just stop. Arm flailing is for birds, we are fish and fish swim with their tails. The reason for this is that moving and especially swimming with your arms is inefficient. Not only does it not get you as far as your flippers, but it also gets your heart pumping. Which, in turn, leads to shortness of breath and an increased rate of air consumption.

Instead of flailing, smacking your dive buddies, freaking out animals and being out of control use your fins. Clasp your hands together, cross your arms, leave them limp at your sides. It doesn’t much matter so long as they are not moving. At first, it may be tricky but just focus on keeping them still and you will get the hang of it. You will also notice a change in your buoyancy, so be prepared to add a little air if need be. Which brings me tip number two.


Yeah, you’ve probably been told a million times diving is all about buoyancy. Sorry, but it’s true. If you want to be a good diver and improve your air consumption you are going to need to get really good at buoyancy control. I’ve written a detailed guide on mastering buoyancy so I will give it to you in short. Weight yourself properly, learn to control your buoyancy with just your breath, and practice, a lot.

Being in control of your buoyancy will reduce if not eliminate the need to add and dump air into your BCD. It will also help you relax so you aren’t rolling around all over the place. All three of these benefits will reduce air consumption and help extend your dive time.

From the book of a Yogi

Wondering what diving has in common with yoga? Breath control. Simply, you need to learn to control your breathing if you want to reduce air consumption. The first step is to actually pay attention to your breath. After that, you should try to relax and slow it down a little.

I find the best method is to breathe in slowly for 5 seconds and then breath out slowly for as long as you can. However, don’t force it. If you feel like you need to breath in again do it. Mastering this technique takes time. With practice, you will notice that taking one breath will take up to 20 seconds. As you can imagine this will make your tank last a lot longer. Not to mention you will feel more relaxed during your dive.

Once you have gotten the hang of this technique and you feel it comes to you naturally, stop paying attention to your breathing. Sometimes paying too much attention to it will increase your air consumption. This comes from stressing over it. Instead, establish a rhythm, then relax and enjoy your dive. If you feel yourself losing your beat then come back to your breath and reestablish the pattern.


Stop Fighting the Ocean

While diving you are going to feel currents, surge, and swells. Most people will try to fight against these natural forces. Sometimes you will need to but in many cases, you don’t. When dealing with surge and swell you will be tossed around a little bit forward and back, or side to side. The best option is to relax and focus on maintaining buoyancy. Just go with the flow and the ocean will likely put you right back where you were. It may even help you get to where you wanted to go.

When dealing with the current you will need to decide whether you are swimming with it, or against it. Always take into consideration your dive plan before choosing. If you need to return to where you started then begin swimming against the current.

Swimming against the Current

That being said swimming against the current can be tiring and will almost always increase air consumption. The trick to minimalizing the impact is to go slow. Often currents will have small lulls. Take advantage of the lulls to move forward. If the current increases stay were you are and look in the rocks until it passes. Once it resumes its normal force, continue to move at a slow and steady pace. This will make swimming against the currents much easier and less straining.

Swimming with the current

In comparison to swimming against the current, swimming with the current can be very relaxing. The key is to not swim, or swim as little as possible. Instead, use your fins to steer and only speed up when necessary. If you need to slow down try flaring out, if that doesn’t work you can always turn and swim against the current. Whenever there is a time that you don’t need to kick or swim, take advantage of it. It will almost always reduce air consumption.

Frankie Says Relax

Just do it! When you want to get to better air consumption you need to relax. This is probably one of the most important steps to reducing your air consumption. Being nervous, giving into anxiety, and stressing are things that you need to let go of. At least while you are underwater. Battling your mind isn’t always easy but for 45 minutes of the day try to just enjoy the life around you. Aim your focus on the fish and beauty of the world around you. Distract yourself from your mind and let go.

Battling your mind isn’t always easy but for 45 minutes of the day try to just enjoy the life around you.


Another trick to reduce air consumption is to pay attention to the muscles in your body. Try to consciously relax each of them. allow them to go limp and take advantage of being weightless. It may even work out some of those kinks in your back. The more you accustom yourself to being underwater and truly enjoying it the less air you will use. Nervous and new divers almost always use more air than anyone else. So just take it easy; you’ll get there.


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