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Bodybuilding Vs Freediving

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Jun 21, 2002
I don't think this subject had been argued here enough...

Just wondering, as an amateur "natural" bodybuilder...How much effects bodybuilding has on freediving? What is the negative and positive effects of bodybuilding over freediving?

Shall i make a choice between them sooon?
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I think is nothing bad with bodybuilder but most of time

bodybuilders tend to CONTRAER SU CUERPO .if they dont do estreaching exercises .

keeping the the body relax is the main key for freediving

The most the body ESTE CONTRAIDO the most oxigen is using.. por que al estar un musculo contraido esta quemando mas oxigeno

Good topic Murat


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Some things that might come into consideration with regards to muscular mass and apnea diving:

Larger muscles may just become drains of oxygen if they do not correspond to being an active part towards effectively completing your dive. Having a huge upper body to perform a finning dive, I would imagine, would be a huge disadvantage. First the streamline of your body in the water will be less, second you are not using any of those muscles so they are wasting oxygen.

Then there is whether your muscles are the appropriate ratio of fast twitch versus slow twitch to perform effectively for diving. I think often people do body-building with sole focus on building muscular mass (bulk), which would mean a high percentage is fast-twitch muscle. So while diving you may have too much fast-twitch (a significant amount which is not being used) and not enough slow-twitch.

As well one needs to consider are you developing muscles effective under aerobic or anaerobic conditions (relating to myglobin/haemoglobin/lactic acid).

Basically muscles have a natural way of developing to supply us with our necessary power. If we are continually participating in an activity, then the muscular growth tends to match that to supply sufficient power. Of course we may not get enough adaptation for specialty activities, so we need to jump start that with extra exercise. But the point is that the extra exercise should most closely simulate the effective muscles that are being used during the activity you are trying to improve for and maintain the effective ratio between the muscle groups and types of fiber. This simulation will predict greater involvement and effort in the same activity, to achieve the most efficient musclular adaptation.



Thank you .. I think we have to keep a balance....

talking about the upper body there is a especial exercise that budybuilder do for the chest that is good for us to PARA NUSTRA CAPACIDAD PULMONAR--I heard about it-

Well is truth about what you say about if affect your stream line.. having huge upper body--- but in my case I keep a balance I work my upper body and lower part of my body...any way Im skinny...


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There is a very interesting result when you combine apnea with strength exercises like weight lifting. You can get a big boost in strength! For instance, although you would not know it by looking at me, I am an avid weight lifter. I keep my weight about 15 lbs heaver than natural through lifting weights, which is the difference from being really thin to looking normal for me.

I have been lifting weights, except for a few short breaks, for 24 years. At 43 almost all of my personal records were set long ago -- in other words I’m past my prime. About 6 months ago, I was the only person in the gym on a weekend and there is an indoor jogging track there, so out of sheer boredom I decided to do some dynamic walking between sets. My strength had a boost and I set two new personal records! The strength increase was incredible.

AlanC, a member here, who is a world-class 400-meter runner, recently stated he had a big strength increase in the weight room after doing apnea exercises. Major strength increases for old guys doing the same exercises for years, and world-class athletes, just don’t happen that often.

I have no explanation for why this is happening. It would seem muscles would need the most O2 as possible for resistance strength. If this result hold true for other people it could transform strength sports. I can just see weight lifters at the next Olympics walking around holding their breath while they wait their turn to lift. Besides actual weight lifters, so many athletes use weight training to help them in their sports. How would this affect them?
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That is an interesting effect if it works for other people. Could it be that athletes from other sports will converge on freediving training? Maybe we will be in demand as apnea trainers some day! The freediving clinics will become full of athletes wanting to learn our secrets. Just imagine the pr it would give our sport!
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weith training

Pullovers with relatively light weigths are a basic weight training exercise for all swimmers. They can carried out with either dumbelss or a barbell

Bench presses strenghen both the pushing muscles of the arms and the muscles of the chest

Pulley weigths were used for generations before weight training came into prominence.

Still valuable , they provide measured resistance and also a high deree of flexibility. Importan parts of the actual swimming motion can be simulate. In this way the muscles that most contribute to proppulson can be singled out for attention.

Despite its astonishing effects on athletic perfomance,ther is nothing magical or or misterious about weight training. Basically, weight training is a method of exercise that permits you to do two important things. First, you can select the muscle groups to be emphasized, and of course you select these muscle groups inaccrodance with the requirements of your athletic activity
Second,weight training gives you a precise way of measuring resistance. Weight trining will be an important part of your athletic career. For this reason it's a good idea for you to get acquainted with the various aspects of weight training,,,,,


" A good push off the wall creates more speed than does swimiing"
Regarding requiring oxygen for weightlifting, my understanding is the opposite. Weightlifting requires a sudden burst of all your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which puts too much drain on aerobically supplied oxygen. As well the initial oxygen supply for fast-twitch comes from ATP and creatine. But why doing apnea prioir to weight lifting would help, could be due to something similar to why we tend to have better statics after performing warm-up statics, which I do not believe is only from relaxation. Eric Fattah has written extensively on this subject of muscles so I would check out the following wonderful links (date sorted from earliest to latest):






I don't know where you got the impression i'm world class, but sorry to disapoint you, i'm not. Also i haven't used breath-holds during a session, i think the benefit i am getting from apnea training is the ability to control the blood ph to help buffer lactic acid. Also as powerlifting generates a lot of power from the core it is beneficial to be able to control the diaphragm as you can use it to brace your abs against your belt. This video link demonstrates how breathing techniques can be used effectivly in the weight room:

Sorry for the mistake. :eek: Maybe future world class? But you did report your strength increased after you started doing apnea training, didn’t you? Not that it was done while weight lifting as in my personal example.

Exactly what is the weight lifter doing with his breathing in the video? Looks interesting.
Yeah my strength has increaed follwoing apnea training. Apnea would obviously only be a small part but everything small makes a big difference in the long run. Like i say in the weight room i think it is the breathing control, as demonstrated by the guy in the video, that has helped. Athletes and weightlifters generate maximum power when they are breathing out against pressure this has been shown in 100m races where analysis of speed over distance has shown little dips in speed or reductions in accleration where the athlete takes a breath, this is why Linford Christie trained to run on one breath.

There are a couple of reasons. 1) all power must be generated through the core (trunk) if you are perfoming the squat you need to keep the core and all of your up body TIGHT so when you push your feet into the ground the bar moves straight up. Same when you are running when you put force into the ground you must propel your body forward, if your core is loose your body will rotate backwards and absorb the energy. 2) when you breath against pressure you increase the blood pressure and hence force fuel into the muscles (try inhaling and then breathing out hard against your cheeks, you'll feel the pressure in your head).

So what the weightlifter does is a couple of ventilations (which will increase his O2:Co2 ratio but he probably doesn't know that) and then takes a deep breath with the diaphragm and pushes his stomach hard against the belt (it is not a back support contrary to common belief) which braces his core so he is rigid, you can't really see this does he does do it. He then goes down and then explodes up pushing out his breath as hard as he can to generate the max power and will exhale at the finish of the lift, you can see how red is face is as he nears the top of the lift. The blood pressure does get extremely high lifters will burst blood vessels regularly, normally around the eye area of the face and nose bleeds occur occasionally especially if they are using smelling salts.

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Just to add another "data point"

This past fall, I tried some heavy benching just for fun. I seldom do bench since it rips up my shoulders -- the point being that since I don't practice bench much, I'm not all that coordinated at the movement. At this point I'm 41 and about 160#. I've done 305# in the past "clean" and 315# w/ some cheating (e.g. arched back), these PBs being when I was in my 30's.

I didn't have high hopes, so I started w/ 250# -- easy, then 275# -- pretty easy, then 295# -- still not too hard, then 305# -- did it w/ some strength to spare so I figured what the heck and went for 315#. That was a struggle, but I did it -- and that was my 5th lift, so I probably could do more under ideal conditions and w/ some practice I could probably add a little more due to improved coordination -- so 325# probably isn't out of question.

Not sure where the improvement came from, but it sure surprised me. I would like to attribute the improvement to apnea sports. I've done weight training on and off for over 20 years and been at various levels of fitness over that tiome (sometimes very high levels of fitness), but I've never had an "out of the blue" improvement like that. The only change has been the freediving and casual apnea practice to give me ok bottom times.

Also, as far as the disbenefits of fast-twitch muscle are concerned. Although they presumably raise basal metabolism, I think that they might not be all that detrimental in apnea sports, particularly with respect to dynamic disciplines. These muscles have a larger cross section, so blood does not flow into them as easily (i.e. they are easy to starve temporarily) and they are optimized to operate in the two anaerobic modes (you'd be surprised how far you can go in the water w/ a little desperate thrashing at the end of a dynamic ;)). Also, the increased body mass provides additional plasma. and if you can shunt it away from the muscles, then it is useful in apnea events. Contrast this with distance athletes, whose musculature becomes optimized for aerobic performance, developing minimal cross section and optimized characteristics that allow for O2 to be absorbed for use in aerobic glycolosis. Also, their body/brain mass ration is typically lower than bulky guys -- normally a good thing :duh, but probably detrimental when you want to shunt extra blood to the brain.

Bottom line -- weight training might not be good for world-class apneists, but I don't think that it will keep you from having fun in the water and getting respectable times, particularly in dynamics. Also, if Don's experience is any indicator (and based on my experiemnce, I think it is), then the freediving may actually help w/ the weight training.
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My take on it is, there is enough evidence that unneeded upper body muscle will decrease breatholding ability that I can believe it, and if freediving was a money making sport and 20 seconds more static or dive time would be the difference from being able to support myself or not, I would not do body building. But that is not case. We only freedive for fun and another 20 lbs of muscle isn’t going to hurt our breatholding enough to keep us from being good enough to enjoy it. Besides you’re a spearo, which means you can always use the muscle to help load the gun or pull the fish up.

Lance Armstrong went from being about the 10th best bicycle rider in the world to the very best. He has said, it was because after cancer reduced his body mass, he purposely only built back his lower body so that his upper body would be smaller and more wind resistant. Over 100s even 1000s of miles, a little less wind resistance adds up. For Lance having a smaller upper body was the difference in millions of dollars and great life time achievements. I would trade that for a smaller upper body any day, but that option is not open to me right now.
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My research has led me to believe that when training muscles for freediving, you can take two different paths. Even marine mammals take one or the other.

- The first method is to develop almost entirely fast twitch muscles. This results in a huge supply of ATP and creatine, which generate energy without oxygen. This is the path taken by some seals who have over 70% fast twitch muscle fibers.

- The second method is to develop high myoglobin content in slow twitch muscles. This is the method taken by the extreme deep divers (elephant seals, most whales). This results in a huge oxygen storage in the muscle, but the muscle is not very strong, because as much as 30% of the muscle is composed of myoglobin bound in the slow twitch fibers. Such animals often have 90% slow twitch fibers, and often the O2 storage capacity of the muscle myoglobin is more than that of the entire lungs & blood.

Now, although the second method may lead to the greatest dives, it takes far longer than the first. But that's not all; no one really knows how to accomplish the second method. Myoglobin muscle biopsies are virtually impossible to get.

The first method (fast twitch) is well established. The method to build such muscle is extremely well researched. Various training programs such as Colgan's power program are readily available in print to accomplish it. I can say from experience that it works.

The second method is so mysterious and undeveloped that it takes guts to even spend time trying it. All the animals which have developed huge myoglobin exhale before they dive. So, the only thing we can infer is that practicing exhale dives may eventually lead to high myoglobin. It is quite certain that the muscles must be exercised in a deoxygenated state in order to build myoglobin, but that alone is not enough, because most athletes doing anaerobic training do deoxygenated their muscles (altitude training in particular), yet neither of these methods develops much myoglobin. Some studies have implied that exercising the muscle when the muscle is not receiving blood supply is the key to myoglobin growth. Thus, exercising the muscle in an extreme blood shifted state may be the key. During exhale dives, the blood shift is extreme. This also implies that no exercise on land could produce high myoglobin -- except, of course, if you tie a blood pressure 'cuff' around your upper thigh (which I have tried), but this method is very dangerous since you can burst blood vessels.

Emperor Penguins are born with low myoglobin content in their muscles. Their muscle myoglobin triples or quadruples in their first two years of life, as they dive continuously.

To finish, I'd say that the worst muscle for freediving is comprised of entirely slow twitch fibers, with low myoglobin content. These fibers consume huge amounts of oxygen. Exercising in the presence of oxygen (i.e. steady state cardio), produces such muscles, and it also increases the capillary density, providing more blood flow to the muscles. In seals, there is almost no capillary network to supply blood to the muscles. Blood is better used to supply the brain; the blood shift in these animals is so strong that during a dive there is almost no blood pumped to the muscles, so why bother with diverse capillary networks to deliver oxygenated blood? Let the muscle survive on its own stored energy, in creatine, ATP or myoglobin.

Yet, certain 'cardio' athletes such as Topi Lintukangas may appear to have great freediving performance. I think this is because their muscles have become very efficient in general. This does not mean that their muscle type(s) are ideal for freediving. The same athletes, spending their time producing freediving specific muscles, could probably dive twice as deep.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

I agree with Pezman about the kind of weightlifting you're talking about probably not having much effect on your freediving. I don't believe weightlifting under amateur and "natural” conditions will change your body enough for you to notice any adverse effects for recreational freediving. On a World Class level maybe or if you were to seriously bulk up (non-natural methods) then probably weightlifting might not be the best thing for apnea. But I doubt doing both activities on a 'for fun' basis will have any bad side effect on the other.

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I knew Eric would add his words of wisdom soon. Ted, I’m glad you have experience something similar too. Bench hurts my shoulders too.

While we are on this whole fast twitch, slow twitch, myoglobin, muscle freediving performance thing, let me throw this question in.

At the PFD clinic Martin Stepanek told us how he used to be a sprint mono fin swimmer and had set two world records in that sport. He said the events he did only took seconds and it was all out the whole way. He described how the mono fin pockets, in an effort to get every last bit of performance were very hard and uncomfortable, even to the point of making their feet bleed sometimes, but they only had to put up with it for the length of the sprint.

As we know Martin moved over too freediving and has thus far set 3 world records. He said he was sick of the all-out, all-at-once mono sprinting and wanted to enjoy the slow easy pace of freediving. As you know, Martin is known for using bi-fins, going slow, and diving long. In both constant and dynamic his times have approach 4 minutes.

So how does someone who is at the very top of a fast twitch muscle sport, change to a slow twitch muscle sport, and be at the top of it too? Maybe it’s the fast twitch method of excelling at freediving Eric described or maybe its as Eric said another time, “Martin Stepanek is not human!” But even if he’s not human he is very nice and approachable and I know alot of us can vouch for that.

I hope him and Mandy set some new records this month in the Caymans! :wave
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Interesting idea. But, having fast twitch fibers doesn't mean you need to 'go fast.' Once the blood shift kicks in (and Martin has one hell of a blood shift), the muscle is forced to use whatever energy is stored in it. The fast twitch fibers have tons of ATP and creatine to burn, so such an athlete will have legs which survive (and don't get tired) for quite a while. Perhaps this is why Martin can bifin up from 93m+ without leg failure. Kirk told me Martin experienced only slight leg fatigue from his 93m dive.

When I was training for fast twitch muscles, I wouldn't necessarily 'go fast' during the dive, but the fast twitch energy store is there nonetheless, at whatever speed you use it.

On land, it is a different story; when you go slowly, the creatine/ATP is usually not used and O2 is the fuel of choice, via whatever slow twitch muscle fibers you have. This is probably due to the lack of the blood shift.

Likewise, the seals which have 70%+ fast twitch fibers don't always swim 'fast.'

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Thanks again for the clarification. This thought seems somewhat related. Maybe doing fast anaerobic exercise with breaks to catch one’s breath, would be beneficial to developing a faster and stronger blood shift and bradycardia. I remember reading that athletes who participate in sports like basketball, racket ball, soccer, etc., who have many close to maximum outputs followed by short periods of rest, can vary their heart rate faster (in dropping it as well as increasing in), than most.
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First i would like to thanks to you guys for your contributions.

As i said before i not pro. bodybuilder, i am only doing it for 3 years but not regullarly becasue of university. I had to give a break many times, then i start again and get fit but then again another exam sesons comes. Its going like this for 3 years... I am doing this sport to have nice body and good mucle power. I have better upper body compared to lowerbody (legs) coz i almost never train my legs. I had some injuries on my right knee and ankle after 9 years of basketball. I only train them for few times in summer (leg curls and some calf rising) and while doing summer cardios on bcyles...

Of course i will not be an world class freediver (actually i wish to be) i only want to be an good "deep" spero may be in 30 meter range... As you see neither of my goals are "world class" but looking nice and hunting at 30 meters is more than enough to make me happy.

I am not familiar of all that techical stuff you talked about muscle types, myoglobin and so, i don't even know if my muscles are "freediving compatible:D" ... ( may be some of you have time to explain it more simply or giving link to read ) But after reading all of these post i think some bodybuilding to looking good will not hurt anything so bad...I can even start to use protein powders :D (too bored of eating egg whites and drinking of liters diet milk everyday):head
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