• Welcome to the DeeperBlue.com Forums, the largest online community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. To gain full access to the DeeperBlue.com Forums you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:

    • Join over 44,280+ fellow diving enthusiasts from around the world on this forum
    • Participate in and browse from over 516,210+ posts.
    • Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
    • Post your own photos or view from 7,441+ user submitted images.
    • All this and much more...

    You can gain access to all this absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!

Exhale Diving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

The Exhale Diver

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2004
Hello all,

I recently attended a very well run freediving clinic by Sebastien Murat in Brisbane, Australia.

Now his style of diving is to Exhale and I was wondering if many people out there are doing this. I have always Inhaled and although reconditioning the body to exhale dive is tough I am intending to mix it up and see what happens, it may take time.

Before people jump on here and say it impossible and doesn't work, please note that sebastien has been to 130 or 140 no limits and around 50 or 60 freefalling no fins (sorry don't know the official terminology)

One of the reasons I am interested in shifting is basically to avoid the problems of blackouts and samba's (I have had two of these). I guess considering that 99% of these problems occur in the last 5 metres largely the result of expanding lungs, Is it possible that by exhaling one can aleviate this problem by avoiding the expansion.

What are your thoughts?

As a spearo who's recently taken up freediving I find exhale statics and dynamics useful, but mainly as warmups because they kick in the dive reflex and aren't as strenuous as long inhales.

To put it bluntly though, they can be bloody dangerous because there is no real urge to breathe right up to the blackout point. We had a blackout the other night at training & I've come close a few times. If anyone's doing exhale you have to watch them like a hawk. While it might work for deep dives where you're not doing any exercise (murat's doing exhale mainly for no-limits, right?) spearing can be pretty labour-intensive. I certainly wouldn't want to have to haul up a fish from 25m without a good lungful of air.

SWB risk pales in comparison to blacking out on the bottom!

There's a long thread on this elsewhere on DB by the way, in which a Kiwi dive physician has a go at Murat for encouraging freedivers to use this technique. Basically his argument is that it is irresponsible to advocate such a potentially dangerous technique without providing appropriate information regarding the risks.
I think you might have misunderstood Seb - exhale diving doesn't remove the risks of blackout - it shifts them 'sideways'. The likelihood of the classic SWB from rexpanding lungs is considerably reduced, but the likelihood of BO is not reduced overall - unless you change the way in which you 'approach' the dive which you could do with either technique.

I'm glad that you are enjoying this 'new' form of diving. It certainly has many benefits - I've been diving using this method for 2 seasons (years) now and use the technique almost exclusively.

Keep up the training because it will pay dividends - but keep it safe and don't assmue that you are now diving relatively 'risk-free', simply because you are not.


Hi Brett,
either you have misunderstood Seb or he is giving very bad advice. Seb also does his no-limits dives on inhale+packing, why didn't he make this clear to you ?

when you do FRC or exhale dives are you actually staying down longer or diving deeper then what you can do on inhale ?

Exhale diving is good training, and good for warming up for deep dives, but also have a much higher risk of blackout. I really can't see much use for it in spearfishing unless you use them for a warmup or something. On exhale your bottom time is much shorter. You start with much less air so you run out quicker. I have seen lots of people blackout with empty lung dives in the pool, the duration of these perhaps only 1/3 of what they can do on inhale?!
Anyone who has ever hooked themselves up to an oximeter will tell you that you get hypoxic MUCH quicker and times are much less doing an exhale static vs inhale. Aprox 1/2 to 1/3 of your normal static time from everyone that I know.

The only case that Seb, Eric and some others on this forum claim where FRC or exhale diving can have an advantage (apart from training effect) is for constant, ie straight up&down. It does NOT increase static time, it greatly reduces it. Like wise for dynamic. Even Seb can't equalise at 140m on exhale so it's not useful for no-limits either. From what I've read, for an FRC dive to be of benefit you cannot use a wetsuit, you need to be able to sink at the start and not have the added buoyancy change. I believe Seb does not use a mask either. To be able to dive deep on FRC you have little air so you have to be extremely good at equalising, and sounds like using a mask would be too difficult.

So no wetsuit, no mask, is that useful for spearfishing ?
You need to be able to equalise normally to probably double the depth you want to do on FRC. ie if you want to do a 40m FRC dive, you should be able to equalise to at least 80m on a full lung. I have met plenty of spearfisherman that can't equalise past 30m, so FRC diving would just greatly reduce their depth. I still can't see how FRC diving is practical for everyday diving?

I wouldn't argue the training effect of doing exhale/FRC dives, pretty much every competition diver I know does this already. But they all perform their max dive on inhale, and most with packing.

Last edited:
Hi Wal,

I agree that it isn't much use for normal spearing. Sadly, I don't get to do much of that these days..... :(

No I don't go deeper and I don't go longer. Although, both are about 2/3 of what I used to do on inhale. However, those criteria aren't that high up on my list anymore. The main reason I do it is for intense relaxation I get whilst doing it (which I don't get as much when diving on inhale) and also for the novelty (having dived 'standard-style' for years).

Philosophically, the improvements I have seen whilst using this technique could also mean that my 'normal' technique has improved too - so I could be doing 1/2 of what I am presently capabe of. But the bottom line is that I'm not really bothered. I just enjoy it - and after 5 years of competitive freediving, is a great feeling to have back.

Originally posted by Walrus
Exhale diving is good training, and good for warming up for deep dives, but also have a much higher risk of blackout. I have seen lots of people blackout with empty lung dives in the pool, the duration of these perhaps only 1/3 of what they can do on inhale?!

This is true. It might be a good way of training for many people, but it is NOT a way of avoiding blackout. I don't know what effect it would have on the risk of blackout during ascent from depth, but it seems to greatly increase the overall risk of blackout, at least for some people.

It just scares me too much to know that I have about 1/5 of my normal static time.

what s about easy liung squeeze if you guys dive with exhaled lungs down to 40 or 50 meters???
i konw people who spit a bit blood on emty lungs even on 10 or 15 meters.
sorry maybe i dont know the difference between exhale and emty lungs/negative dive??
could you explain??
FRC diving - Functional residual capacity - passive exhale diving.
Not a forcfull exhale which is more known as empty-lung diving.
You would still have to practice felxibility and train gradually to those depths without getting a squeeze though.

On your original question, PF clinics teach exhaling in the last (10?, boy is my memory bad) meters specificly to limit the potential for SWB.

I mainly inhale dive anyway I have just been experimenting a little with Exhales. I have found in terms of holding my breath then swimming (i.e. simulating a dive) I can do about the same either way thats in a pool only a couple of metres deep. The problem for me is adding depth it seems to stress me feeling the squeeze in the chest which I am not used to, I assume you get over this over time, how long does it take to adjust?

I recently used it as a technique for spearing up central queensland in Australia where we were doing about 200 dives a day in only 5 - 8 metres of water. I noticed that recovery was quicker.

I have heard that marine mammals inhale when diving shallow and exhale when diving deep, is this true and if so why? they must have a reason and they don't black out even at those depths.
I'm suprised when you say you can swim the same distance either on exhale or inhale, how far are you talking about ?
Also how much are you exhaling ?
I have taught quite a few people and don't know anyone that couldn't do at least a 50m dynamic. ie most beginners would do between 50m-75m. Are you doing that sort of distance on exhale ?
My best dynamic on full exhale is about 50m, even had a samba on that distance once, on inhale it is 150m.

It may feel like you are running out of air at the same time, but that's not an indication of how low you actually are on O2. Your urge to breathe is mostly triggered by CO2 build up, not low O2. On exhale your urge to breath comes when you are FAR lower on O2 !
The only way you could really tell is do maximum exhale&inhale dynamics right up to the point of samba or blackout, which I don't recomend. :duh
Either that or you need an oximeter or a blood test to check your O2 levels at the end. I'm seriously concerned for the safety of anyone that believes they can do similar depths or distances on exhale as they can inhale. Apart from the increased risk of blackout, you also have a serious risk of lung squeeze. Some people have done so much damage from squeeze they had to quit diving for several months, even a few now can't dive at all.

P.S Can't compare humans to marine mamals. ie Seals have several times the muscle and blood oxygen stores compared to us. Our biggest useable air store is still our lungs.

Hi Wal,

They were not full exhales just about 1/2, that is what we were trained to do - functional vital capacity.

I am not sure exactly the distances my dive buddy and I were doing but we were siting on the bottom of the pool for about 30 seconds then swimming about 30 - 40 metres I can't say for certain. It was a shallow pool only 2 metres, I would not be able to do it in a deeper pool as I have not adjusted to that feeling. It did feel like when you needed to breath, you really needed to all of a sudden. I guess that could be interpreted as a danger but on the flip side there is no way I can ignore it like I could if I wanted to on an inhale. Next time I will record everything to be sure.

Regarding the Lung squeeze (that's coughing up blood from a burst avioli, right?), I think that Sebastien mentioned it was less likely under exhale diving I can't remember what the physiological justifications behind that were unfortunately.

And also regarding the marine mammals if Seals have several times the muscle and blood oxygen stores compared to us then surely it could be viewed in a relative sense. If seals can dive 800 metres and humans around 80 (round figure) then why do they breath out for the deep stuff if they could achieve more on a dive to that depth the other way. I am asssuming that they always exhale as I just heard that they do.

If I had several times more muscle and blood oxygen stores and I could inhale to extend the length/depth of a dive even more I would do everytime. My question is why do they not?

I am not sold on the idea just playing around a bit in a safe way, I know your accomplishments Wal and I respect your opinion, I even purchased my fins based on your advice.

Ultimately I am just curious I always like to look at other options and ideas.
Last edited:
Wal - out of interest:

My dynamics (which are generally pretty poor ~100m) are the same on inhale and exhale. However, it should be noted that when I refer to exhale diving, I don't imply the same warm ups - I warm up differently when doing exhale.

I may be an odd case though, and that may be related to my poor 'standard inhale' dynamics.

I think there is a very big difference between FRC (passive exhale) and empty lungs. I would be happy to try FRC (though never without a spotter), but nothing will ever convince me to do anything with empty lungs. PM me for reasons.

Hi Brett,
yeh half a lungful makes a bit more sense. There is a pretty huge difference in breathold between a half lungful and a full exhale. And then even you can't compare your full exhale to someone else’s, everyone has different residual volume. Still be careful with them and keep in mind the urge to breath is reduced with FRC diving. It's just when most of us competition divers do exhale dives or negatives, we usually do them close to full exhale. And we are very careful with them because it's way easier to blackout doing them. The empty lung dives are used as warmups for a deep dive, the duration of the exhale dives are WAY shorter. ie I do something like 3.00 static at 15m, 1.30 exhale static to 15m, then 4min static at 15m. So you can see in my case the duration of the dive is less then half, but that's on full exhale.

Lung squeeze less likely with exhale dives ?!
Brett you said yourself when diving FRC you feel lung squeeze at a much earlier depth. If you start with half your air then you will hit your residual volume at half your normal depth. ie a 20m FRC dive will feel like a 40m normal dive in terms of running out of air to equalise and feeling empty and tight in the chest. That's the one thing I can't figure out about this FRC stuff. Even if I went along with the possibility that reduced air consumption makes up for starting with less air, I can't get past the equalising and lung squeeze factor. Like I said I've seen quite a few spearos try a deep dive and a lot of them couldn't get much past 30m because they couldn't equalise anymore. And for someone training for a WR attempt.....
How the F%^k can you equalise to 105m+ starting with a half lung full ? :confused:
That would be like equalising on a 210m no-limits dive full inhale, or perhaps 260m+ if you include packing. Even with a LOT of training the number of people that could do that would have to be very few if any. Look at Herbert in Cyprus, going for 103m and had to turn early before 90m because he didn't pack enough air.

Ben about your dynamics, that's got me stuffed mate. :confused: :D
Perhaps we are at opposite ends of the spectrum? I have slightly above average VC, 6.8L and 9.8L when I pack. Perhaps someone with larger lung stores has more to loose when they exhale ?
Still I’m not that bad at dry exhale statics, have done 3.45 full exhale, and about 2.45 with reverse packing. I just don't get very long times in the ocean if you include swimming and movement in the equation. Well my dry inhale static is probably 1 minute more on land then it is underwater so might be the wet/dry difference also.

Are you talking half exhale as well ?
Have you done both coming up close to your limit ?
Even with quite a bit of purge breathing I get about 1000+ contractions (well feels like it ;) ) on a dynamic or a static. Yet do the same empty lungs and can happily drift on by, no contractions until I blackout. :hmm

On the dynamics I go reasonably fast - over 1.5 m/s. That may be key to it actually.

My VC is about 6 litres and TLC is approximately 8 litres (I think - hasn't been measured in many years). Fairly average figures, i think. I'm lucky to get past 2:30 mins on a proper empty static.

Exhale = FRV, not empty (I prefer to use the term FRV, but you have to explain it so many times that it seems easier to use 'exhale'). I think mixing the two up may be what is causing a bit of confusion here.

Maybe about the same ?
on the 150m dynamics I've done I go about 28-32s per 50m, so at least as fast. I do it arms out front in a tight streamline, classic monofin swimming style. I haven't tried it on exhale in ages, bit woried about blacking out.
Ben you haven't answered, were you doing them full exhale or half exhale ?
And on either inhale or exhale/FRC were you getting close to your limits ?
I still have a hard time believing you can't do more on inhale, wondering if you aren't giving up early. On a dynamic I feel like I have to breathe at the half way mark, then I just keep going. I'm still improving on distance and static just thru brute packing... :D
In Cyprus I improved 40seconds on my PB static, in just 1 week by going from half packing to max packing. I do far less exhale dives for training and for warmups then I used to a few years back. So I have improved from doing more inhale training, less exhale, and increasing my lung stores ie packing more. So doing the oposite of the FRC theory and it works for me.

Yeh I know a full exhale means residual volume, not empty lungs it's just called that. :D
Still I notice a pretty big difference full exhale vs reverse packing, is much less air again, still not empty though.

I'll start calling it FRC rather than exhale.

I do pretty much all my dynamics and diving at FRC - I hardly do anything on full exhale. I do pretty much all my dynamics to near max (as far as I am aware - although I haven't had a samba in years and I used to get them all the time....late '90s).

You made me laugh with the 'not trying hard enough' comment! As I'm sure you know - it isn't that difficult to push yourself to BO! I learnt to separate the feelings of hypercapnia and hypoxia a few years back and so I have a reasonable idea of when I start to desaturate - if you have an oximeter you'll probably notice the difference too. I'm a bit out of practice now though.

On my full lung dynamics, I tend to get hypercapnic at the half way point, but in the last quarter I desaturate very quickly. On FRV, I start to desaturate earlier (about half way) but desaturate slowly. I think my heart rate is higher on full lung dynamics - this may account for the above.

I do a lot of restricted breathing prep before my dynamic on FRC to increase venous return and thus develop a localised 'blood pool'.
Last edited:
Originally posted by Walrus
I'm still improving on distance and static just thru brute packing... :D
That reminds me...I haven't done any packing for ages. I'll give it a try again, as my PB's have been done without packing.
Originally posted by Brett Craik
. If seals can dive 800 metres and humans around 80 (round figure) then why do they breath out for the deep stuff if they could achieve more on a dive to that depth the other way.

Seals exhale on the deep dives because the seals in the past that did not exhale got bent, died, and didn't get to breed more of the same 'stupid' seals. Darwin is responsible ;)
Anything that can dive that deep will get bent if it takes air down.
Erik Y.
  • Like
Reactions: Walrus
DeeperBlue.com - The Worlds Largest Community Dedicated To Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing


ISSN 1469-865X | Copyright © 1996 - 2024 deeperblue.net limited.

DeeperBlue.com is the World's Largest Community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy and Diving Travel.

We've been dedicated to bringing you the freshest news, features and discussions from around the underwater world since 1996.