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Breath holds improve throughout session?

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Active Member
Jun 16, 2020
I’m a newbie spear fisher but have been quickly improving over the last few weeks.

I find that for maybe the first 45 mins or so the urge to breath comes on quicker than it should which cuts my dives short. After this period something seems to fall into place and my breath holds just get a lot better. Towards the end of a session (2-3 hours) it seems like I can spend about twice as long on the bottom and am totally relaxed.

is this a recognised phenomenon? I would have assumed my dives would be better at the start of the session when I’m fresh.
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Mr. X

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
Gosh, I could have written that! Yes, it is certainly recognised by me. :) Down times and depth tend to improve naturally over the course of a dive, over a week of diving and over the course of a year/season, provided you dive often.

I think this approach is perhaps the way to go for those who spearfish alone, as I do. Rather than learning to overcome the body's natural defences, as competitive Freedivers must. We rely on our body's defences.

The beauty of this approach is that you don't need to train as such, you train by doing. And no great effort is required, indeed effortlessness is what you progress towards. :)

I used to race triathlons but didn't train much in season because I raced every 2 weeks, which is the best, most intense training. After racing you need a few days to recover then maybe do a moderate run and either a swim or a bike ride, nothing excessive, then start winding down in preparation for the next race. I think climbing and spearfishing are similar, the best practice is doing it.


Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
What X said, but also indeed the effect of breath holds becoming easier as the diving day goes on. To go with X's triathlon and climbing example: if you go running, you start of slow and gradually speed up. That's how you finish a marathon. For climbing you climb some easy routes first, maybe do some pull-ups. If you would go all out at the start of those two examples you would burn yourself down on the first try. Gotta warm up.
But with breath holds it's not musles that need to warm up, but diving reflex that needs to become activated. The longer you are in the water and the more you hold your breath, the stronger the brain's signal to the body will become that it has to adapt to this new situation.

I think this approach is perhaps the way to go for those who spearfish alone, as I do. Rather than learning to overcome the body's natural defences, as competitive Freedivers must. We rely on our body's defences.
I stopped doing tables because of this. I don't want to teach my brain and body that it's ok to go beyond the signals. I do some apnea walking to push a bit into contractions, not to set a new record but to remember what they feel like, so I won't panic if I have to power through some contractions during a dive.
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