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Increase the oxygen limit for extended breath holds?

Mayfly

Member
Dec 29, 2018
13
0
11
24
Sweden
Hey guys,

My breath hold PB is currently at 5 minutes in dry static. The only way for me to accoplish that is by warming up for atleast 20 minutes with a combination of relaxation exercises, controlled breathing and hyperventilation. It has even happened that i've blacked out when going for 5+ minutes breath holds. (Of course i would never ever do this in the water).

This makes me wonder how it is possible for some people to hold their breath 6:30 - 7 minutes. Those of you here who can do that, how much practice have you put down to achieve this and how long time has it taken? Also how do you control yourself for not blacking out?
Since my max capacity is around 5 minutes before i black out in dry practice, that must mean i've comsumed all my stored oxygen by then. So how would it be physiologically possible to increase this limit? How should i practice to push it further and economize the limited amount of oxygen in my body?
 

MarcinB

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2012
259
63
68
Bialystok/Poland
Since you already reached your hypoxic limit, further improvement will be more difficult compared to other limiting factors (e.g. discomfort, urge to breath or contractions). To improve your performance in static you will have to either increase your body oxygen stores or decrease oxygen consumption rate. The first goal may be achieved by increasing lung capacity (e.g. stretching or packing). The achieve the second one you need to work on relaxation (of both muscles and mind) and CO2 tolerance. It also requires many experiments since there is a large number of variables to play with. For instance, for how long to fast and what to eat for the last meal before static? How many warm ups (if any)? Another important variable is the length and intensity of hyperventilation (more is not necessarily better). You can also experiment with the length of the delay between the last warm up and the maximal attempt. You may also try to decrease your resting oxygen consumption using dietary interventions (e.g. vegetarian diet, low fat diet, caloric restriction etc.). But most of all, you have to be patient. It took me three years of regular practice to improve from 5 to 7min in dry STA.
 

mad mat

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2006
5
0
86
35
What’s your cardio like? Sprints, hill running and fartlec training can greatly assist your body become more efficient at using oxygen. And when I say sprint I mean as hard as you can go. Leans you out, body gets accustomed to co2 and lactic acid. Staying motivated to train that hard is another topic.
 
OP
OP
M

Mayfly

Member
Dec 29, 2018
13
0
11
24
Sweden
Since you already reached your hypoxic limit, further improvement will be more difficult compared to other limiting factors (e.g. discomfort, urge to breath or contractions). To improve your performance in static you will have to either increase your body oxygen stores or decrease oxygen consumption rate. The first goal may be achieved by increasing lung capacity (e.g. stretching or packing). The achieve the second one you need to work on relaxation (of both muscles and mind) and CO2 tolerance. It also requires many experiments since there is a large number of variables to play with. For instance, for how long to fast and what to eat for the last meal before static? How many warm ups (if any)? Another important variable is the length and intensity of hyperventilation (more is not necessarily better). You can also experiment with the length of the delay between the last warm up and the maximal attempt. You may also try to decrease your resting oxygen consumption using dietary interventions (e.g. vegetarian diet, low fat diet, caloric restriction etc.). But most of all, you have to be patient. It took me three years of regular practice to improve from 5 to 7min in dry STA.
Thanks for your reply! I understand that it's much harder to work on the hypoxic limit than the tolerance of CO2. Maybe i should redirect my training to O2 tables from now on. I think that making it to 5 minutes while still being relatively comfortable and not dizzying away/almost panicing should be my primary goal. I somewhat feel that 5 minutes is "good enough", but 7 minutes is indeed impressive.

I've also just started to apnea walk. After some warm ups i've gotten to 1:15 minutes while walking relatively calmly, my goal is 2 minutes. But isn't it just another form of CO2 tolerance training? I imagine that apnea walking is designed to learn how to deal with the urge to breath and contractions while consuming oxygen by moving? And in this way making us more confident as divers.
 
OP
OP
M

Mayfly

Member
Dec 29, 2018
13
0
11
24
Sweden
What’s your cardio like? Sprints, hill running and fartlec training can greatly assist your body become more efficient at using oxygen. And when I say sprint I mean as hard as you can go. Leans you out, body gets accustomed to co2 and lactic acid. Staying motivated to train that hard is another topic.
My cardio is decent but nothing special. When i read that improving from 5 minutes can take years the movitation admittedly falls a bit. But if i just continue doing this over the years i might eventually reach further as well, as the body at last seems to adapt to what we train it to do...
 
OP
OP
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Mayfly

Member
Dec 29, 2018
13
0
11
24
Sweden
By the way, does increaseing the hypoxic limit via STA necessarily improve our diving? Or is apnea walks a better strategy for that ultimate goal of staying down longer?
 

MarcinB

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2012
259
63
68
Bialystok/Poland
The general rule is that you will improve in what you train. So by doing dry STA you will improve your performance in dry breath hold. If you want to stay down there longer, you need to dive regularly, dry exercises won't help much in this regard.
 
OP
OP
M

Mayfly

Member
Dec 29, 2018
13
0
11
24
Sweden
The general rule is that you will improve in what you train. So by doing dry STA you will improve your performance in dry breath hold. If you want to stay down there longer, you need to dive regularly, dry exercises won't help much in this regard.
I see. It's tough because i live up north and there's only about 1 month a year that is suitable for diving around here when the water is warm enough.
 

Hamster

Member
Aug 27, 2016
16
7
18
23
England
i found my times got drastically better when i started holding my breath while doing sprints, underwater lengths in the pool are good too. also pack alot but i wouldnt worry about not being able to do more than 5 mins if you are a spearing, i have never timed myself whilst hunting..
 

mad mat

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2006
5
0
86
35
Just as an example, a while ago when I was super fit (15 on the beep test) I wasn’t able to dive for 6 months or so and did not do any breath hold training.

First dive back, I was dropping to 50ft and lay there for over a minute before the contractions would start.
Not sure what my vo2 max was but it was good. The more output you are capable of, the more efficient you body is using/conserving energy and oxygen.
Team sport like touch football is a much more enjoyable way of increasing cardio and avoiding muscle gain.
Cardio might just help get you the results you want in conjunction with the other training you are doing.
Cross training is really good for the body because it can get normalised to the training you do meaning no results.
 
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