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Is it possible to increase lungvolume?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jul 30, 2003
Is your lung-volume constant ??
or can you increase by training . i had a discussion with a medical student the other day and she told me that it is impossible to increase your volume.
I couldnt say anything about that because i dont have the knowledge, but it kept me wondering how it works ?
What happens when you train everyday for some years and gets better capacity in your diving. ( in medical terms).
It would be great to know.

Hi Jeppe

From what I understand, your VO2 max is the term given to an individuals lung capacity, and I have heard arguments ranging from the fact that we are born with a VO2 max which cannot be changed, ( ie, marathon winners are born, irrespective of how hard they train), to arguments which state that training can improve our VO2 max ? So not sure, but here is something which I took from a medical file? It's a fascinating question, and I live in the same city as one of the worlds leading sports scientists ( Proffesor Tim Noakes), so I will try and get more info related to freediving.

"VO2 max represents a person's maximum aerobic capacity and the efficiency with which oxygen is exchanged with the active muscles. VO2 max is expressed relative to body weight (ml/kg/min); therefore, notable improvements can be tracked with regular exercise as a person's body weight decreases or as the efficiency of oxygen exchange increases, or as both improvements occur. This measurement is generally regarded by physicians and exercise physiologists as a very good measure of aerobic capacity."


lung volumne

Hi dark&cold,
Lets phrase it a little different. Is it possible to increase the amount of air you can get in your lungs while diving. The answer is absolutely, yes. Everybody is born with a certain max capacity, but how much of that you utilize is a function of use, training, etc. When I dive a whole lot, the amount of weight I use goes up by .5 to .9kg. That is extra air, no other possibility. There are extensive discussions on this forum on pack stretching and other techniques to increase usable lung volumne. Try the search function. Many other folks on this forum know a lot more about this subject than me. If you get into packing, go slow and be very careful, You can do your lungs considerable harm.

Good luck.
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Originally posted by Dark&Cold.Diver
had a discussion with a medical student the other day and she told me that it is impossible to increase your volume.

She's wrong. It's funny how much weight we put on someone's opinion simply because they have a degree or are working towards one. This student obviously has never measured her own or anyone else's lung volume before or after a few days freediving, or before and after a session of pack-stretching.
Cdavis is right, and so am I and lots of others who have actually taken the time to do the work.
It's similar to someone saying to a person who has never stretched their hamstrings "you will never be able to touch your toes without bending your knees". Lungs stretch if you know how to stretch them!
Erik Y.
lung stretch


Having done a lot of this type of thing, can you put any numbers on how much your lung capacity expanded?, from how much to how much?, over what period? If you stop working at it, how fast does your lung capacity shrink? I would like to develop some targets for me and don't really know where to start.\


Hi Connor, I just used a crappy set of jugs and tubes upside down in the water, so I couldn't give a firm number for myself. But definitely more air getting in there. Kirk Krack, Mandy-Rae, and Eric Fattah have all done some exact measurements which showed fairly substantial gains.
Hopefully someone will step in with some exact numbers.
Erik Y.
Here's some solid numbers for ya

When I was an undergrad (about 3 years ago), in Anatomy and Phy class, I blew 3.7 liters of air into the breath-machine-doowacky. And believe me, I was giving it my all (there were ladies present, ya know :duh). After a couple years of freediving, without ever packing or using packing exercises, I now can blow 5.3 liters into that same contraption. So I gained about $1.50 (roughly 30% more volume) just by breathing up. I'd say that about half of that is because I can get more in, and half is because my max exhale is now stronger.

Can you use one of those lung trainer they have out on the market to help in increasing your lung volume or does this just these just help in strenghting the muscle involved in breathing proess.

BladeRunner OUT
Can you use one of those lung trainer they have out on the market to help in increasing your lung volume or does this just these just help in strenghting the muscle involved in breathing proess.

There was a really good forum disscussion about this. I forgot the name of the disscussion but I do remember a lot of people saying it just helps strenghting the diaphram. I also remember people saying you don't have to spend $100 to buy one of those machines. You can make one out of PVC pipe and a thing that attaches to control the water flow, in this case air.

Hope it helps!

There was a study done on the Powerlung which showed, among other things, that using it actually DECREASED static breath-hold times in the subjects. I suspect because the heavy use of the diaphragm and other muscles was not combined with proper stretching. The same thing happens to hamstrings if you work them hard a lot and don't stretch- they get shorter. IMHO, they are junk. Maybe they are applicable to an athlete that could get into a situation whereby he/she could not breathe fast enough, because really that's all that this thing can help someone with. Or blowing up water bottles!
Runners run and stretch. Triathletes run, swim, bike and stretch. Freedivers dive, hold their breath, and stretch (lungs too). I heard from a lady on the French Team that Loic Leferme doesn't do any kind of cardio training or lifting! He just dives, breathes, and stretches.
Erik Y.
Just as i thought you all confirmed my beliefs, but its hard to argue with an medical student in group of non-divers.
People just cant see what is happening when you practice freediving, because they dont execise themselves.
I have always had the feeling of a much better lungcapacity since i began with free-diving.
I blew in an instrument that that takes your height/weight in to consideration and i was 40% above the averege for my height and weight (im a BIG guy 1.90cm//102kg i have practiced many years of weigtlifting).
Dont know my exact capacity for the moment , but i will do some tests soon to find out.

Thanks. Jeppe

When I did my dive medical for scuba I blew 4.8L which was 2 years ago, back then I didnt do much with my lungs just spearfishing, in those last 2 years I have done Pack stretching and max packing practice on and off, it would be interesting to do a lung test now and see if it improved.

I feel that on a single inhale without packing I havent increased much, but I have increased the amount of packs I can do from 10 small ones to now 30small ones. This however is the reverse of my goal, my goal was to increase the amount I can take on one go without packing (For spearfishing) this doesnt seemed to have increased, or it may have increased slowly without me noticing.

Lung capacity in my opinion is not at ALL important in static apnea, however in deep diving my small lungs have REALLY stopped me from diving deep.

The really deep guys like Eric have said before that lung volume is not important, however Eric has over 10L with packing if we all had 10L lungs I dont think anyone would worry about lung size.

to 90% of us Lung volume is the limit in deep diving cos you can only hold a certain amount of air to equalise your ears with. Of course then theres Wet equalizing :hmm

Do the test yourself.
Before a season, test you lung volume with a doctor.

Spend the season training, and diving.
Do a lot of packing and stretching, and after the season go mesure you lungs again.

You will find an increase in volume. no doubt.
Residual volume

So it seems lung capacity can be increased by training and stretching, but what about decreasing residual volume?

Would empty lung dives, for example, do the trick? Or lots of deep dives for that matter. If your lungs are constantly being squeezed to residual volume, would your RV slowly decrease?
If your lungs are constantly being squeezed to residual volume, would your RV slowly decrease?

Great question cheese. I wonder.


think of your lungs as a baloon, or actually,
a million balloons.

It can stretch, but when it deflates, it wont shrink.

Everytime you inflate the baloon, its easier to blow it up bigger
than the previous time , not so ?

empty lung dives will actually improve the
stretching ability of your rib cage, and that will result in that your lungs can inflate more, and more.
Hey Herman,

How much is a healthy amount of lung packing? Everyday before a dive, once a week? Won't want to pop the baloon! :)
That depends.

Start of with only a few packs.
As you lungs stretch, pack more , and more.

Dont overdo it, but add a little extra evrytime.

I got into a habit of packing, even for a 10m dive.
Its good training, stretches my lungs, and because i am used to packing, its no big deal when I need to do it for a big dive...

Pack as often as you can, but not too much when you start off...

Hope it answers you question...
Thanks a lot for answering the question.

I have another one if you don't mind.

How do you pack before a dive comfortably? Do you use the snorkel?

I'm sorry to be such a nag.

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