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Do you need to be uncomfortable to increase comfort?

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Mar 2, 2017
First post here. I'm new to freediving, did my beginner course recently and looking to improve my breath hold times when diving, e.g my 50% max time.

During the course doing static apnea we only went as far as the first contraction and were advised to practice static tables to that first contraction.

Reading many posts on training talks about mentally managing contractions to increase max time. I can understand this if you want to max your breathold time in static apnea.

But if, like me, you only want to increase the time before contractions come - eg. the ability to comfortably dive longer durations, is there any benefit practicing holds through multiple contractions (and the associated stress and discomfort)?

Or will my "comfortable" breathold time still increase if I "only" practice holds to first contraction?

At the moment I practice breathing, relaxation, static CO2 tables to first contraction 3-4 times/wk and dynamic apnea walking where I hold my breath during a walk until first contraction or extreme need to breathe before (don't want to pass out or go dizzy. ..) , recover breathe and repeat 4-5 times. So just wondering if this is enough for improvement or only to maintain status quo (I'm too new to have measurable results yet)?

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Freediving physiology is extremely individual and varied. Beginner courses are forced to keep it simple and can't convey that variability. "Hold to the first contraction" is a good example. Contractions are EXTREMEY individual. Some divers don't get them, some late in the hold, some (me) get them real early. Urge to breathe is a better measure, but hard to describe in a course. A few divers don't get contractions or much urge to breathe until way late in the hold. Those guys can push themselves to BO without even realizing they are pushing. I've dived with a couple like that.

Enough rant.

What you are doing should help you improve. Pushing harder, past the first contraction,will help you improve faster. Your body physiologically adapts to higher co2 levels and psychologically, you begin to realize that you can hold much longer. After a while and pushing harder, you will begin to get a feel for how your body reacts and where you limits might be. For sure, don't do this in the water without a trained buddy. Apnea walking works well. Walk on something soft or with a buddy if you are going to push things.

Have fun with the training and go diving as much as you can (the best training)!
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This is a very yes/no situation.

MOST of your training shouldn't be stressful or extreme.. However, you'll ONLY get better by pushing yourself to extremes.

That's looks very conflicting, but think of it this way. Let's say you have 2 months to train.

Weeks 1-4 = lots of no contraction statics.

Weeks 5-7 = medium amount of statics with "some" (some is relative to your level an de body) contractions.

Week 8: just a few max effort statics

Peak: after the 8 weeks of training, you are ready for a new best.

You might have done 50+ holds with no contractions, 20 with some contractions, and 3 with max contractions. Those last 3 hard ones are the ones that count, but the 70 easy ones are what MADE THEM COUNT.

Forsure it's a little more complicated than that, but the advice is sound, as long as your training is periodised to peak at te end of it.
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