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Question Best modern way to train CO2 tolerance

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Nov 4, 2023

I want to increase my co2 tolerance as a beginner. "Googleing" this topic leads to multiple different co2 tables, warnings and intervals.
Which table is the most efficient table based on current knowledge as well as what is the limit of daily/weekly training to ensure proper results and no burnout.

I noticed that some are mentioning the 1-breath tables? Is that the best option (if yes, I prefer that one due to more time efficiency).
Also, is breath-holding on a bike (indoor) a solid option (and if yes, which pattern is the most efficient way)?

TBH, if you're a beginner freediver, and you've not done much apnea(/breathwork) in the past, then I reckon you'll see decent gains from pretty much any reasonable training methods.

I was reading a recent paper the other day (but can't find it again now...:() where the investigators were trying out a variety of techniques to prep for a max static breathhold (i.e. trying different breathhold tables of varying lengths and intervals before going for the max), and they came to the conclusion that it really didn't matter that much! (which was a bit surprising, since they had developed one method specifically thinking it would work best...) -As long as they did *something* beforehand (involving prep with a reasonable set of breathholds), then that increased the final max breathhold by a similar significant amount (compared with other control groups who did various other types of prep not involving breathholds).

This is admittedly somewhat different from what you're asking (i.e. it wasn't about more long-term training, but prep for a one-off max breathhold, and was with non-freedivers not used to apnea, as well as only being static). However, I think it may suggest the important thing is simply getting the dive response going (i.e. MDR) - and all kinds of regular apnea training helps to make that response kick in more quickly and more strongly. It also suggests that we still don't really have a clear 'winner' (in terms of a specific set of training methods) for what works best (and it could well vary from person to person for all sorts of reasons).

Here's a link to (abstract of) another recent paper that suggests various (relatively short-term) training methods tend to lead to similar results, at least for static breathhold: Training methods for maximal static apnea performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Again, it demonstrates that it remains unclear what's gonna work 'best'...

I'd say your best bet would be to pick a handful of methods (including both static & dynamic) that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing, and that are convenient for you to do regularly, and then play around with those.

Speaking of 'comfort', I've also mentioned before how I think it is important to remain relatively comfortable during freedive breathhold training. Freediving is so different from other sports (where you can typically kinda use the 'adrenaline rush' that comes from pushing through a degree of 'pain' to get that 'gain'). Instead, during apnea it's so important to stay relaxed to reduce oxygen use. This means training methods that regularly lead to fairly significant extended discomfort can very often negatively impact your ability to stay relaxed as you continue training into the future.

Hope that helps!
Found that paper I mentioned above:
The effect of various breath-hold techniques on the cardiorespiratory response to facial immersion in humans


As a slightly irrelevant aside, something interesting that also comes out of above is to do with facial immersion and MDR...
One of the groups that did no breathholds for prep before attempting max BH, were trying facial immersion first instead, to see if that (alone) would trigger MDR enough to increase max BH time. Although it did induce bradycardia (decreased heart rate), suggesting some kind of MDR was in effect, it seems it didn't actually help increase max breathhold time.

However, this was tested with non-freedivers, and it appears to be fairly well-known (here's another paper) that the effect of facial immersion on max breathhold time (compared with dry max BH time) is typically only significant for those who are already experienced breathholders (i.e. freedivers) - again, the testing there showed even the bradycardia experienced by non-divers during immersion didn't help to significantly increase breathhold times...
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