top of page

6 easy steps for using less air in scuba diving

scuba diving Nusa Penida staghorn coral acropora
Mastering buoyancy: useful for reducing air consumption too.

The mysterious art of using less air.

For many novice divers, high air consumption is a frustrating facet of their scuba diving journey. A few easy pointers can make a huge difference though, so we've put together 6 easy steps ( and a bonus tip) to reduce how much air you use.

1 - Check your weighting

If you are overweighted when diving, you will constantly have to adjust your position and the air in your BCD, this uses a lot of air. Your body position will also not be streamlined so the drag will mean more resistance and so more effort so again fewer bars in your tank.

If you are unsure of how much weight you need, the least amount, go out with a buddy and ask them to take a spare kilo or two for you in case you need them. Then take what you think is your absolute minimum amount of weight. You gauge whether this is proper weighting for you if you can comfortably hold your safety stop at 5m with a tank on reserve (50 bar). Remember that in challenging conditions you may still want to add a kilo to that (cold or current can make you breathe more heavily which will make you float more).

2 - Learn proper finning techniques

It's no secret that the more efficiently you move in the water the less air you will use. Practice perfecting those fin kicks, frog, hybrid, flutter and backwards. Have some fun with it. Learn to reduce hand use to an absolute minimum by being able to use your fins to turn and stabilize and watch your dive time stretch!

3 - Get proper insulation

One of these reasons even experienced divers get through their air fast is the cold. When you get chilly your body fights hard to stay warm. The more layers and proper insulation you have, the less air you will use. Remember to have a hood, most of your body heat is lost through your head!

4 - Become a buoyancy expert

When you have good buoyancy control, you have an economy of movement and effort that translates into very little air use. A combination of proper weighting, good breathing technique and astute BCD use will mean a minimal waste of air and energy. Practice makes perfect. If planning on doing your PADI Advanced Open Water course, why not choose peak performance buoyancy as one of your adventure dives, you can even do it as a specialty for more fun buoyancy games and great air consumption at the end.

scuba diving Nusa Penida
Important factors streamlining, good finning technique and relaxing!

5 - Relax

Whenever we are even slightly anxious, our heart beats a little faster and we breathe more heavily. Especially if you are of small build but find yourself using a lot of air, the key may be relaxation. Try to work out what creates an anxious response in you: gear, conditions, dive buddy, organisation? Then take the steps to change and improve what you can. If diving still makes you slightly nervous then on each dive try to think of it as therapy and concentrate and deep slow breathing, make sure you dive with people you trust and who make you feel happy and go with the flow. The more calm you feel in your mind, the less air you will use. This may take a little time and experience so do not put additional pressure on yourself. Just go with the flow.

6 - Be slow and efficient

Moving in water is very different from moving through water. The density of water creates resistance so you need to move slowly to be efficient. Try and imagine everything is in slow motion. If you want to move fast or hard ( against a current for instance), remember to have slow strong kicks, not rapid ones. Slow movement also allows you to be more precise and efficient. Again, practice makes perfect, play around with it and find what works for you.

Final bonus tip: Don't overthink it

The more you think about your breathing, the more conscious you are of it, generally the more you will be breathing weirdly and you will use more air. Have some fun with all the techniques mentioned above, don't stress about it and enjoy the ride. Slowly but surely your air consumption will improve.

All photo credits Kristina Vackova @kristina_photo_world

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page