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Breath-hold workout

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jul 20, 2001
I was just wondering what do you people think...
Does breath hold running or weigth lifting can and in what way improve performance.
I read somewhere that Herbert does a lot of dry training by riding his indoor bike in front of the television.
So, is dry breath hold activity good or not?
Breath hold sit-ups, maybe?

Don't know...
It helps in a big way

I have been incorporating this into my workouts at the gym and I am seeing a noticable improvement in my pool sessions.

My workout consists of doing 30 minutes on a Reebok Cross Country Ski machine (only using the legs). I set it on the interval course and do 15 second breath holds every 2 minutes. It hurts like hell, but it makes a huge difference the next day in the pool.

I also do apnea weightlifting for the legs (quad extensions, hamstring curls and leg press) and again, I feel stronger than I did when I was in high school. I do this 2 - 3 times a week, which takes a total of about 90 minutes to complete my full workout. I alternate those days with pool sessions and take one day off for complete recovery.

I have been doing this workout now for three weeks and I have noticed a marked difference in my adapting to apnea in the pool.
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...Not an unusual method, but why this positive effect? -Why does this kind of training help (am doing it myself....)

Is it the increased toleance of lactid acid, the ability to tolerate more co2 or what?


understand whar you do - do what you unerstand
There is a lot of evidence that hypoxic training increases resistance to lactate or clears lactate faster. There are companies that sell devices to induce noromobaric hypoxic conditions that simulate various altitudes, such as this one in Russia http://www.hypoxia.ru/princip.htm .
Further to Ike's other thread asking about breath-hold training, most evidence shows that many positive adaptations take place, from respiratory rates and capillary growth, to increases in natural anti-oxidants.
Check this out: http://www.umds.ac.uk/physiology/rbm/hypoxfx.htm

It's a little dry, but make your way through it and a lot of things are explained...they even mention the diving reflex.
Erik Y.
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Be careful holding your breath while weightlifting though...

About 1o years ago I was doing legpress at the gym.I'd warmed up well and was on my heaviest set.I could feel the pressure building up in my head,but carried on anyway (I expected dome discomfort-it comes with the territory) when suddenly my head went 'bang',I put the weight back as my vision went snowy,then faded completely.With the bang came an intense pain and a loud ringing in my ears.As I stood up waves of dizziness and nausea swept over me forcing me to lay down on a bench.Needless to say that was the end of that workout.I was bad the rest of the day (vision and hearing returned after about 30 seconds )-nasty headache and sickness but returned to normal by the next day.A year or so later I read of someone who had similar (though slightly less severe) simptoms after legpressing who went to hospital and found out he'd had a minor stroke.Basically the blood pressure increased until a very small capillary in the brain burst.There were no lasting effects in either of us,but it could easily have been a bigger capillary,or a vein etc which 'blew'.
The point to all this? (...honest,there is one...) ... be careful lifting whilst holding breath.I don't know anywhere near as much about the physiological effects of apnea as most of you in here,but I do know that you need to be very careful.When it happened to me,I wasn't even holding my breath! I was perhaps not breathing as carefully as I should have though.I still legpress now,but take extra care and look out for the warning signs.
when it hits you


Well it realyy goes bang...

But as a former track-sprinter, i have experiencing a few times myself....:hmm

The ting is: you have to really be pushing your limit before this happens, and lifting for "freediving-benifit" you should not lift moer than let`s say 70% i guess. We do not need the extreme power or burst of "exploding" power. We should rather look for more endurance and some lactid-traning....

so i train eather 70-80% 15-20 reps or 50-70% 20-50 reps (holding my breath)
Coments anyone?

Thats fair enough.Do you see improvements in other areas? How does it carry over into freediving?
As a college athlete (Football and Wrestling) and only a newbie Freediver, my area of knowledge lies much more in weight training than in apnea and freediving. So while I cannot necessarily relate weightlifting to freediving (as I can for football and wrestling) I can share some insight into lifting. Granted, most of ya'll are lifting for different purposes than I am, but many of the basics hold true for both explosive/mass building weight training (what I do) and general fitness (what many of ya'll engage in)

Although everybody has their own theories on what works for them there are some tried and true concepts that should be adhered to. I cringe when I read about people holding their breath while lifting, probably just as much as the moderators of DeeperBlue do when people write about freediving alone. Whether holding one's breath while lifting is beneficial for freediving is not the true issue here. Ya see, there are other ways to improve on that. It should not be done in the weight room. Proper breathing while performing any lift, no matter the sets/reps/percentage is just as important as proper form throughout the lift. Honestly, I have read about this as much as ya'll have read about freediving. Holding your breath is one of the most deafting things you can do to yourself in a weight room.

Basically, the point here is that while it may or may not improve your apnea, it's pretty much the worst way to go about doing that. It's kinda like steroids - yeah they can work, but overall it's pretty bad. I'm sure there are other ways to improve apnea times. Plus proper breathing while lifting it will make your workouts much better - I promise. Just like with freediving - it is important to breath up properly.

I agree totally! Just like you,I'm new to freediving,but I've got 15 years weightlifting experience.I've heard of people passing out and dropping bars on themselves,also I had a nasty experience myself a long time ago and that was just from below optimal breathing-I wasn't even breath holding ( I wrote about it on another thread somewhere in here).The answer to that was that the freedivers don't use maximum weights,so its relatively safe.I can see the theory behind this,but I still know its bad! But maybe the divers know something we don't? I admit when it comes to apnea they have got far more knowledge than me,so who knows?
Originally posted by eualthemule
It should not be done in the weight room. Proper breathing while performing any lift, no matter the sets/reps/percentage is just as important as proper form throughout the lift. Honestly, I have read about this as much as ya'll have read about freediving. Holding your breath is one of the most deafting things you can do to yourself

I completely agree, and never do it. There are those who suggest it in their methodology, and I think it's dangerous and stupid. Hernias, anyeurisms, and iron dropping on unconscious lifters are a few good reasons!
With running or biking I think it's ok to a point, as long as you're not pushing it too hard, but really the best training for diving and breath holding is.....(wait for it).....diving and breath holding! With a spotter of course.
Tyler, a lot of us lift, and your input and knowledge is valuable here :)
Erik Y.
O.K hear what you are saying


I have been weightlifting myself for 15 years now, have been studying it in college and have been a personal trainer and going courses for that porpuse. I have also been a sprinter, and they are not exactly known to hate the gym...

As a note: Umberto Pelizzari is teaching breath hold when training with leight weights.

That is the thing you see: I train with thise machines, not with loose weights, and do not train with heavy weights. I do not realy push it eather. I do my set slow and easy, holding my breath to learn the body to work with not much 02 present. NOT pushing it, but let the body work.

Most people can not go into a gym without the goal to push it and lift close and over their maximum capasity..... Training for long distance/aerobic displines and the usual healthy benifit, this will not do. You have to go easy and not push yourself to the readhead-leightheaded-baloonlooalike I see every time i go to the gym....
Maybe its just me but don't you sound a little comtemptuous (not sure about that spelling!) of us weightlifters?
I know the type you are referring to,but we aren't all like that you know.Theres nothing wrong with working hard,thats the name of the game in lifting,all out effort.I understand what you are saying about lifting at a lower level of effort to help improve freediving,but please don't knock weightlifting-its given me a lot,and whether I learn freediving or not,I'll always train hard with the weights.
Hi Lasse, as long as you're happy with your training, I think that's the most important thing :) . I know that I do some things that are not considered safe by others, and it certainly wont stop me from doing them. And i agree that machines with lockouts, etc are a good idea, to make it safer.
Erik Y.

Well, that what not what i ment!
I have been lifting hard my self, and have been competing in a body building competition once(.....) And as a former sprinter i have ben lifting harder than most. I just ment that most people lift too hard; they do not get the benifit they are looking for.

And Erik: you are so right, and the weight lifting part is a small part of the traing for freediving, and we are all indididuals.... Thanks.


I must say I totally agree with Lasse about the positive benefits from apneic weightlifting. I compete in downhill racing, and we do have a very hard training program specially for the legs. We need a very high lactic tolerance and high maximum strength.

The lactic acid tolerance in one of the parts from alpine skiing I get most benefit from in my diving, and the best way to train lactic acid tolerance is to do workout without breathing. The muscles that gets the largest amount of lactic acid when diving are the frontal thighs and the best way I know about to train them in apnea is in the leg extension machine. I usually do 60*4 with small weights(about 20 kg), and the lactic acid when holding my breath comes already after rep 15. This takes about a minute. And I think it's pretty safe, cuz u don't drop any weights on anyone/anything if you blackout. I think it's pretty good for the CO resistance too, because you build up massive amounts of it while exercising these large muscles.

When training for the skiing we usually do really heavy squats for the legs, but they're suicide to do apneic. Never try that.

Dive safe, our little lake is still frozen :(
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