3 Tips to Improve Your Air Consumption on a Dive

improve your air consumptionIt’s not uncommon for divers to use more of their air supply as they learn the intricacies of buoyancy control and general technique, but if you find yourself using a lot of air after you’ve had more experience, there are a few things you can do to fine tune. Just a few physical and mental adjustments before and during a dive can significantly improve your air consumption, so you never have to worry about running low on air. Best of all, they are each easy to remember so you practice what you learn on every dive!


Reduce Excess Drag

Water provides natural resistance to the body, which is great when doing laps in the pool for exercise, but not so great when trying to conserve energy and control breathing while diving. Reducing drag helps lower that resistance, which in turn lowers your respiratory rate. Basics like tucking in your octopus, gauges,  and hoses, keeping your hands in front of or close to your body, and wearing a BCD that fits properly will significantly reduce your drag in the water and help you improve your air consumption.

Slow Down

The slower you move in the water, the slower your breathing rate will be — it’s not rocket science. Your movement in the water should be minimal, not flailing with your arms or kicking furiously, ultimately increasing your air consumption. Keep each fin stroke short whenever possible, as a wide stroke expends a lot more energy.


Be conscious of your breathing underwater. It sounds intuitive, but the various tasks undertaken during a dive can interrupt your normal rhythm and change your breathing without you noticing. Take slow and complete deep breaths, exhaling completely before inhaling — do not skip breathe as a way to save air. A high quality regulator can also help make breathing more comfortable and easy to control.

Image via Tim Sheerman-Chase


  1. Its really that easy, just slow down, and relax

  2. I disagree, it starts with proper buoyancy and trim!! Once you own that you have to stop doing what 90% of all divers do and that is fidget with arms and fins. Being motionless AND in control allows you to reduce consumption dramatically. A kick here and there is all you need for the dive.

  3. Well if you have proper buoyancy there usually is no flailing arms and trim like a seahorse anymore anyways… And stay away from camera’s until you are there…too many newbies taking their go pro etc…

  4. Robt Eagle says:

    Spend more time snorkeling, making quality surface dives using the weight of your legs straight up from the surface to drive you down towards the bottom. That will assist greatly in eliminating using energy just to get down. Using your snorkel while on the surface, rather than having your regulator in your mouth will dramatically conserve air. If boat diving, learn to use the anchor line to get you to the bottom with little kicking by pulling yourself down using your hands. Learn to weight yourself to be neutrally buoyant at the depth you are diving to…that will save you a great deal of effort on the surface before you even leave the boat or the shore. Something as simple as having ALL your gear set up near where you intend to enter the water without having to carry it while in your wet suit will save a huge amount of energy and help conserve air once you get underwater. By the way, being in great physical shape will generally help to conserve air, and get rid of all the superfluous gear. Do you really need that bell or whistle (keep your safety whistle on your BC) for what you are going to do underwater? By the way, after a few hundred hours underwater you’ll get relaxed enough so that air will normally be plentiful, then you’ll figure out that snorkeling is way more fun than putting on the bubble machine…

  5. Melissa says:

    It definitely start with buoyancy and trim. Clearly this article doesn’t know very much about buoyancy and trim, just look at the divers in the photos. One is practically standing on the rock/coral and neither one is horizontal.

  6. christine says:

    Learn how to Drift dive. Take a minute and study the currents in your dive site. It has cut my consumption a great deal. Also get properly weighted. Yeah on land us ladies always think we are Too heavy and need more weight, not the case.

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