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Freediving and Vo2 max

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Aug 17, 2003
A quick question which i werent able to find much info about on the net. Will freediving give you a high vO2 max? And how high will a world class freediver be able to score in this?
Also im wondering if a high vO2 max will give you a strong benefit as a freediver? This is an interesting topic I think.

Here are some vo2 max results from other sports, and in cross country skiing they score the highest, how would freedivers score?

VO2 Max
Eivind, if you enter VO2max into the search box here in the forum, you will get some interesting threads (but unfortunately also some disinformation too). Also Google reveals plenty of articles including some scientific studies speaking about VO2 max and freediving. Try it for example with this term:

vo2max breath-hold diving - Recherche Google

Generally freedivers tend to overestimate the importance of VO2 max and/or of fitness for their freediving performance. VO2 max, by definition, is the maximal/peak oxygen consumption the body is capable of, which is the exact opposite of what a freediver needs. Much more important than VO2 max, would be VO2 min.

VO2 max is more relevant to aerobic activites, and although it may have influence on freediving too (especially freediving activities with repeated breath-holds, like relays, 16x50, speed apnea, spearfishing), the VO2 max will not tell much about your freediving capacity. There are top freedivers with high values of VO2 max, but there are also others who have VO2 max values far below the average.
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Thank you for the answer, its what I suspected! However, at school Im now forced to push my vO2 max to a higher level. By doing this, I hope Im not affecting my vO2 min.
From my experience, while trying to increase vo2 max, my apnea performance decrease a lot. Contractions are impossible to hold. Generally breathhold feels ugly that days. Once I stop cardio, it takes me 3-4 weeks to get back where I was before cardio. I still don't know if it's worth it. I have a conclusion that You can spend this time better on specific training...

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I think Ivo's info is very good. tip. It's about the bloodflow. Low bloodflow induces early abortion of the aerobic phase. Hi HR, hi bloodflow is late or no lactic acid formation, resulting in high O2 consumption, high CO2, stress and short dives. - These are my latest thoughts following a successful training experiment and talking to my coach. I have a pretty good VO2 max, thanks to a lot of fast bicycling to work.
To test, try to lower your HR, and during your dive you mentally try to keep it low, soft and smooth. The swimming is also relaxed and slow to keep the HR slow. Please share your findings here so we can discus and learn.

For the rest if you have a good heart control, I think having a high performance able heart needs less energy to accommodate a slow blood flow.

Love, Courage and Water.

While it is certainly possible to be a good freediver with a high VO2 max, we do know that highly specific freedive training certainly reduces your VO2 max and will keep on reducing it. A seal, with virtually no capillaries leading to the swimming muscles, has no ability for high sustained oxygen consumption.
This is a big subject to discuss, I did not see significant coleration between diving and VO2 max, but if you want to know numbers, mine VO2 max on last measurement (on treadmill) was 62 ml/kg/min.
This is a big subject to discuss, I did not see significant coleration between diving and VO2 max, but if you want to know numbers, mine VO2 max on last measurement (on treadmill) was 62 ml/kg/min.

thats also my opinion about it. maybe the rest days are more shorten when u have a high VO2max than a lower one.
by the way mine is 72 ml/kg/min and i have a very big distance to gorans results !

Recently I started to do a bit of Cardio training (soccer and freestyle swimming) to improve my static (I want to do 6-7minutes - and Im at 5-6minutes), but it seems counterproductive to increase my aerobic fitness from what I read above... Eric or Goran can you relate to Matts experiences?

I might end up continueing another months with the cardio - and then skip it when the spearfishing season start and I can get my apnea-related workout doing that.

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Improving static by soccer training, that's a new way of doing it :)
Well it's only acutely nonproductive Morten, your apnea will be lower during intense aerobic training, but it should return to normal values (or above them) when you finish your specific training period. And it's never contra productive to have better fitness, it can just be advantage if you have other free diving related abilities at the same level or higher.
Improving static by soccer training, that's a new way of doing it

Well, the best training schedule is the one you follow... and soccer is fun :). Thanks for correcting the misunderstanding. I can see this has been debated often here.

Pretty much agree with Goran - my apnea takes a dive (heh) whenever I do aerobic or strength work but comes back pretty quickly afterwards.
Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum, looking for some guidance about apnea training and VO2 max behavior, so reactivating this thread.

Despite being an avid spearo for very long time and never being an athlete, a few months ago I decided to improve my freediving performance using the concepts and training methodology presented by Umberto Pelizzari in his book "Specific Training to Freediving".

After 4-5 weeks of training, my bottom time and comfort increased a lot and I'm feeling great in general, but my VO2 max dropped from 36 mL/kg/min (which is kind of average for my age and was stable at that level for at least one year), to currently 30 (!) mL/kg/min, as measured on my Apple Watch. There's known issues with Apple Watch's accuracy, but a significant drop in VO2 max is a complete surprise to me.

Is there any literature about apnea training and VO2 max expected behavior? Google was not helpful...

Thanks in advance!
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