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Bodybuilding Vs Freediving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Eric, have there been any tests done on Emperor penguins or other exhale diving mammals that were bred and matured in captivity? If these didn't show the increased myoglobin then we can know for certain that it is the blood shift alone which is responsible for stimulating myoglobin production in the muscles.

Also, irrespective of myoglobin storage, I think we can still increase O2 storage potential in blood through hypoxic exercise. Maybe quality blood (high haematocrit, haemoglobin & blood volume) + high energy storage (quick twitch muscles) is a comparable model. It would certainly be easier to obtain.
I thought Martin Stepanek was an endurance athlete before taking up freediving? Would that not suggest he has a higher percentage of slow-twitch? Eric, what makes you suggest he has a large percentage of fast-twitch?

As well how is it determined that an athlete has a huge blood shift?

It has been suggested that larger amount of fast-twitch muscle is potential stores of blood for use during a blood-shift. It gets me wondering how many of our muscles around the body are likely to actually go through a blood-shunt during a deep dive. So, body builders who tend to focus on their upper body usually have large pectorals, biceps, triceps, trapezius, forearms, etc... Have there been tests are is fairly safe to assume that in dives these muscles are strongly shunted.

Besides this there is another thing that comes to mind. I think it is very important to consider the nature of where Murat is coming from in creating this thread as stated by his posts throughout. He is not going very deep or intending to, yet is curious about how a large % of fast-twitch might affect his diving but at the same time interested how it would affect a world-class deep diver. My point is that I think it is likely that a diver such as Murat will not get blood-shifted almost at all and especially not dramtically enough to access blood in the upper body. Whereas maybe a deep diver would due to the continuing extremes on the body that increase the diving-reflex. If this is the case then we are back to the large muscle mass in the upper body, being an overall drain on his diving ability.

I believe previously doing up to 50m, I was not activating a blood shift even in my legs, let alone my upper body.

Maybe that is just me and the average person would!? However, I think it is safe to say that the deeper we go the more extreme the diving reflexes occur and it would take an extreme diving reflex to shunt the upper body, no?

A person currently doing less than 30m is probably not experiencing much of those reflexes. As well I wonder if the hot mediteranean waters (25-31 degrees celcius) at the surface delay the reflex even more or if the sudden extreme changes at the thermoclines induce it to a greater extent.

I think this thread is mixing together what is experienced by extreme divers with what is experienced by casual/recreational divers. Maybe there is experience that they do not produce such dramatic differences, but at this point I believe it is important to distinguish this, so that a reader can distinguish what applies to themself and what applies to someone else.


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I know this is not the main thrust of your question Tyler, but in the “Cardiovascular and respiratory responses to apneas with and without face immersion in exercising humans” study that Frank Pernett sent me, it said that in another study it was shown that the dive reflex contributable to just face submersion was much more prevalent in the freedivers used a subjects than the non-freedivers. I forgot the wording, the document is at my home, which I am not at, but it hinted that the reason for this was it is a partly learned response.

What I got out of this is to really activate the dive reflex you need to stimulate it by being in the water often. Now this wasn’t the pressure from deep that also helps activate the dive reflex which blood shunt is a part of, but just water on the face.

I have thought about what I could do to stimulate this at home, since going to the pool more than once a week isn’t an option for me right now. I thought about putting my face in a pan of water, but that requires a spotter, which kind of takes the best part of dry statics away (that is I can do them by myself). The other thing I thought of is a bag of cold water with an opening for the mouth on the face.

PS I got my info on Martin Stepanek from the man himself, but if this helps, it says this on the PFD web sites under his accomplishments, "Competitive monofin swimmer - 50m and 100m, 1984 ?1997." I guess 100m on one breath is getting pretty close to dynamic freediving. I would be happy with that length right now, regardless of the time!
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I have hardly any knowledge e.g. like Eric, concerning the human body, but here are my thoughts.

The more blood volume a freediver has, the more O2 can be stored and the more blood there is for the blood shift. I would guess that aerobic training is better to achieve a larger blood volume. Furthermore aerobic training reduces the heart rate and efficiency.

I experienced 2 different dive styles:

Going fast (in constant weight ~3’40”, dynamic ~2’) I burn my muscles, so I think fast twitch muscles ARE needed to withstand the lack of O2.

Going slow (in free immersion and variable weight) I don’t even feel any fatigue in the muscles, so I think slow twitch muscles are better for this style, for the reasons I mentioned in the beginning.

Eric, how do you know Martin has got a huge blood shift and how would anybody know? I am just assuming to have a blood shift, when I can equalize deeper.
When Martin was doing his 8+ static apneas in Florida in 2001, his arms and legs would turn white and his core would turn red (easy to see since he has no wetsuit on). This appears to be a dramatic blood shift; this obvious change in color doesn't happen with every diver...

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

While doing dry statics I do a lot of mentally attempting to influence vasoconstriction in my limbs. I regularly feel like I am causing it with my mind, as my limbs go heavy and get tingly. Generally on the oximeter I see an increase in heart-rate however. So I have not been certain that I was actually inducing vasoconstriction, as many articles refer to heart-rate decrease in conjunction with vasoconstriction. Yet the other day I seemed to notice if I continued watching the heart-rate would begin lowering after an short increase.

So yes I think it is strongly affected by the mental aspect and expectation of the occurrence. However, upon meeting a lot of spearfishermen in Cyprus, I discovered that most of them are not aware of their body or educated about the changes in the body that can occur with relation to diving/apnea. So I would guess to generalize that there is less chance of severe reflexes, in this population.
I was told that my head shows the full spectrum in static - how does that relaet?
I believe that means we need to require other top divers to shave their heads so we can observe their scalp skin colors during their statics. :D
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Whenever I am vacillating over training programs I remind myself of the fact:

Yorgi Haggi Statti could stay at 30m for 7 minutes.

Since this exceeds the potential of any modern freediver it shows that his ‘training’ must be superior to any current model. His ‘training’ (actually his livelihood) was nothing more than countless variable weight dives – over and over, day after day. He had almost no muscle on him – 175 cm tall and only 60 kg – and an elevated heart rate (80 - 90 bpm). He wasn’t exhale diving, but I think he was staying at significant depths long enough to become bloodshifted, and over the years this bloodshift would have become more and more emphasised. He may be the only person who has really put to the test Eric Fattah’s theory about myoglobin growth in muscles that are exercised in the absence of blood flow. The clincher would be if we could analyse muscle tissue of exhale diving mammals that have been kept in captivity their whole life.

So it looks like there are 3 systems:
1. Slow twitch muscles & super fit – store oxygen in blood volume and use it with the greatest efficiency
2. Fast twitch muscles – store energy as ATP etc
3. Diving muscles – store oxygen in muscular myoglobin

It seems like in terms of effectiveness 3>2=1. Since 2 & 3 are mutually compatible I think this may be the best (if most difficult to achieve) system.
Originally posted by efattah
his arms and legs would turn white and his core would turn red (easy to see since he has no wetsuit on). This appears to be a dramatic blood shift; this obvious change in color doesn't happen with every diver...

I'm not sure if this is the best way to document blood-shift, since all the skin vessels are peripheral, the blood-shift is mainly to big intra-thoracic vessels.
weight training

In any weight training program the numbers of reps become highly important. If you carry out very few reps with heavy weights,you can build great strength and along wit hit considerable bulk. At the other extreme,if you do many reps with ligth weights,your emphasis is on endurance reather than on strength. In an event such as the shot-put,which calls for a single great explosion,emphasis is on building strenght and bulk. In this way the program calls for very heavy weights and few reps. In contrast,the long-distant runner whose concern is endurance puts his emphasis on many reps with ligth weigths. For him heavy lifting would be a handicap.

He wants to avoid acquiring bulk.

What are the guidelines for the swimmer in deciding on the number of reps to be carried out ? Well, all swimming races require a certain amount of endurance,and the longer the race, the greater the need for endurance .

You can readily see that you don't want to build enormous bulk that would have to carry over a long race. Hence you know that few reps with heavy weigth cannot be a major part of your weight training program.

At the other extreme,a great number of reps would seem useless. Some. Some coaches have advocated as many as one hundred reps. But a weight that you lift one hundred times would present less resistance than actual swimming . This procedure could only contribute to endurance. Since you can best build endurance by actual swimming, the weigth training program would then have neither value nor meaning.

Practical experience suggests that the optimum number of reps probably is from eight to twelve. And there should be three sets.

Land exercises ar off-season activities for most swimmers. Yet many coaches fell that these exercises should be continued into the competitive season. They do, however, think that the time and energy devoted to land exercises should be reduced as the season progresses. And they believe that when the big meets arrive,land exercises should be eliminated or used only as part of the warmp-up.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
( Phil 4"13)
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Originally posted by Will
Whenever I am vacillating over training programs I remind myself of the fact:

Yorgi Haggi Statti could stay at 30m for 7 minutes.

Since this exceeds the potential of any modern freediver it shows that his ‘training’ must be superior to any current model.

Perhaps Haggi Statti did have good 'natural' training, but I disagree that 30m for 7 minutes is beyond current freedivers. Haggi Statti, as the stories go, dove in a no-limits style, using a stone to go down, and being pulled up by a rope. So, that would imply he did a 7 minute 'static' at 30m in no-limits.

I'm quite certain that Mifsud or Seb Murat could (or have) surpassed that. I managed 5 minutes at 20m in constant weight, kicking down and up, and Mifsud swam continuously in dynamic for 4'09" on his 209m record. With his 8'24" static, who is to say he couldn't do 7'00" on a sled at 30m? Seb Murat was well known for his 8+ statics in the warm up in Sardinia in '98, and not long ago he told me he did a 'static pb' on the sled at 20 or 30m... I'm sure Herbert or Martin could also do more than 7 minutes on a sled at 30m.... Herbert did 98m FI in 4'15", so imagine if he wasn't moving....

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Haggi Statti, as the stories go, dove in a no-limits style, using a stone to go down, and being pulled up by a rope.

This is a translation of Doctor Musengo's account:
"Statti returned from every dive energetically and entirely under his own steam; this is demonstrated by the way in which he jumps into the boat unassisted and shakes his head to clear his nose and ears of water that has penetrated them. He is able to reach a depth of 110 meters, with the capacity to stay at 30 meters for about 7 minutes.”
It is unclear whether he is actually static at 30 meters, but it seems it is definitely a variable weight dive.

Thinking about it you are probably right - there isn't much difference between this performance and the elite of today. Furthermore perhaps these accounts are hyperbole (although they have been well documented). On the other hand perhaps since freediving was only a job to him he may have had a potential for a greater performance if he had forced himself - maybe 7' @ 30m was only a moderately difficult dive?

The main point, which pertains to this thread, is that he acheived this with the physique of a scarecrow and no training other than diving.
Originally posted by efattah
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.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

My question here is how do animals compared to humans get rid of the huge amounts of CO2 that are formed as a result?

There is too much metabolic waste there that will lead to trigger points.

Concerning how marine mammals who exhale, get rid of metabolic waste, it is a fascinating issue which has been studied quite extensively. What I can remember is:
- Seals/Whales have large amounts on non-bicarbonate buffers, as well as large 'traditional' buffers
- They have RQ=0.7 (respiratory quotient), i.e. pure fat burning mode, which results in 30% less CO2 production per O2 molecule burned
- The blood level of CO2 they tolerate is equivalent to a human with at least 12% CO2 in his lungs

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Hi again another question

I am thinking of start to use creatin monohydrate and whey protein powder. Does anybody knows if those products have any bad side effects on freediving? Especially creatin?