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Kick resting

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2001
What do you think about stop kicking on the way down and the way up for few seconds, and let that just the momentum moves you. I read that dolphins use that kicking strategy.
It sound logic to me, while our muscle rest we can restore phospate stores.
Any experience on that?
This is a very common thing that some deep divers do. Though trying to get and KEEPING a good glide position, is hard to start with. I found I started to rotate so that I was in a freefall position (belly first) which slowed things down, but was still fun to do.

I tend to stop finning on deepish performance dives anywhere from 40m to 50m, though sometimes I have stopped kicking at 25m and sunk(be it a bit slow) to about 40m. I just kept going as the feeling was very relax and enjoyable, I had to really make myself turn on that dive.

As for on the way up I stop finning around 15-10m and fully relax and enjoy the ride up, knowing that I'll be there very soon.

Obviously you'll have to find the right wieght balance to suit your dive pattern. Going on myself I don't use any wieght at all, I have a 5mm suit with farmerjohn trousers (so and extra 3mm around the chest) and have dived in both the sea and fresh water. I know this may not be the most optimal way, but it is how I like to dive. I have heard that Herbert uses quite a bit of weight as he prefers a faster glide, but don't quote me on that.

So basically have a bit of fun experimenting with it till you find a happy medium.

Commenting on the glide - yeah, if I'm relaxed on the way up I'll glide between strokes.

I always stop kicking on the way down. I used to stop at 30-35 (neutral at about 12-14m). But now I am getting more interested in the idea of heavier weighting, and stopping kicking from 20m (neutral at 10).

This requires only 1 lb more weight (dependent on suit and an extra lb at depth doesn't feel like much to me.

Some don't like sinking, though.

There are safey pros and cons for each strategy.
Just looking over Frank Pernett's post again, I may have missed his question.

it could be rephrased to:

stop kicking on the way down and the way up for few seconds, then start kicking again?

If that was the original question, then I find that when I dive deepish 50-60m. That on the way down the legs aren't really a problem esspecially when you get to the glide. So on the way down I don't really see a need.

Though on the way up There may be a need, esspecially from a really deep dive, but from what I find is that if you keep a steady relaxed kick cycle, then the slowing of moment woun't be benifical as you'd have to kick harder to get the momentum going again.

I haven't gone really deep, yet, so this is my opinion from what I have experianced so far. So I can be easilly proved wrong, but then again it comes down to a matter of preference.
My friend that I train with does this during his dynamics. He is mainly interested in movement underwater with the longest breath hold he can achieve. He does a lot of spearfishing, but I have been in the water with him when he has done a 2:30 dynamic. Hell, even im up to a 2+ minute dynamic. He does not use his quadracep muscles, he uses his ankles to angle his fins and then push. Weird, but it works! I am currently using the same process and it is hard to get used to but...when in Rome! Let me clarify that we are moving very slowly we are not doing a 176m dynamic like that guy did. I think that the best we both have done is a 50m static, but im sure if we practiced we could get a bit further.
Kick & Glide

This strategy is called 'kick & glide', and it is used by the deepest diving seals (elephant seals), as well as other mammals, to conserve oxygen during deep dives.

I have tried it many times. Unfortunately, in order for it to work, it requires:
1-Perfect technique on the explosive kick
2-Special fins or monofin design for this type of short hard kick
3-Great skill to relax so suddenly after such a hard effort
4-Exellent streamlining to coast for as long as possible during the glide

For me, it has never given better results than just continuous kicking, however, I have not satisfied all 4 criteria. I believe that humans have too much drag to make this work well.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
for a while?

Thanks all for the answer,
I have a severe pain in my legs at the end of a deep dive (for me deep is 40) and I felt it like numb, at that moment I will like to stop kicking. Someone have tried to mix the strategy?
I mean continuos kicking but with some rest when the legs feel tired.
I think that can help to restore the high energy phosphagens
The dreaded leg fatigue

What you are describing is not deliberately stopping, but stopping because you have no choice. This is very common, especially during deep dives, especially in cold water. In July 2001, when I started diving over 70m in the cold vancouver water, the leg problems started hitting me. I would need to stop several times on the ascent; I simply couldn't kick anymore. The problems gets worse and worse with depth & cold, because the blood gets sucked out of the legs during the blood shift, and the deeper you go, the longer you sink. This culminated in the worst nightmare of my freediving career, when I nearly died during the 88m dive (!) I had started sinking at 30m. I filled my mouth at 35m, and sank into the 5C water with my 2mm orca suit. By the time I reached 88m, had been sinking for 58 seconds (58m @ 1m/s), and the narcosis was extremely severe. My friend Peter was waiting for me at 25m. But, when I turned around, my legs became extremely tired after the FIRST monofin stroke! There was no blood in my legs!! My arms were numb. I managed to kick to about 68m, then I stopped; my whole body was weak and I was overwhelmed with narcosis. After a few seconds I started kicking again, until I reached 53m: at 53m it was totally black (out of range of the bottom light). My whole body was so weak I could not move any muscle. My arms were too weak to grab the line. There was no weight belt to ditch. My mind was in a strange dream land. I forgot about everything. I couldn't move. I was so cold. There was one thought in my mind only; Peter is at 25m waiting for me, but this is almost 30m away. I'm going to die now, I thought. I started sinking again, into the blackness, unable to move. Then, a contraction woke me up. I suddenly realized I was sinking into death, when I decided to try kicking again. I thought, try again, maybe the legs will move, and they did move, but it was pain & lactic acid. I managed maybe 5 strokes before I stopped again, now fighting for my life. A few more strokes, another rest, and another rest, and another. Eventually I saw Peter in front of me. I wasn't sure who he was or what he was doing there, but something told me that this was a good sign. I stopped in front of him for several seconds, as the clock passed 3'00. I eventually made it to the surface, clean, and I raised my arm in triumph--not because I made the depth, but because I survived.

That was, of course, the last time I dove deep in Vancouver without scuba divers or a DRUM system to save my life. That was July 27, 2001, and I have not even tried to break the depth since then. Instead, I spent the whole year practicing to 70m, trying to make 70m without any narcosis or leg problems.

I discovered many things. The main problems were caused by:
1. Extremely tight orca wetsuit sucked the blood out of my legs
2. Insufficient glycogen stores
3. Accumulated lactic acid from the previous day of diving
4. Improper warm-up routine; I didn't move my legs at all in my warm up.
5. Diving too heavy; this resulted in too much effort to get back up
6. Wrong monofin style; relying too much on the quadriceps
7. Lack of any deep warm ups didn't provide any narcotic preconditioning

#4 is the most important. You can control the blood flow to the legs, and the degree of blood shift out of the legs, by controlling your warm up. However, if you have trained properly, you should have huge stores of high energy phosphates in your legs, and in that case, you don't want much blood flowing to your legs, because the more blood flows to your legs, the more oxygen your legs consume.

Having a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers will drastically improve your leg power in the deep phase, because the fast-twitch fibers don't need oxygen, so for them it doesn't matter if there is no blood in your legs.

There were other issues too, but those are the main ones.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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Scared the Crap Out Of Me


Eric thats insane dude, im glad im an extremely SHALLOW diver stuff being paralysed at any depth let alone that deep. Have you tried doing the same depths but in really warm water with no wetsuit.

Proper Warm-up

These are some interesting discoveries you've found out of that deepe dive, Eric.
Some time ago I was asking you about the proper warm up for Dynamic. You recomended not to do many lenghts in pool to save the legs.
I did everything as you said and it worked. I went to the water only after my negative statics warm up (you recomended 1x25m, then statics).

Please, can you describe your new warm up routine (CW) for us. Can you pick up some differences between warm up for CW and Dynamic.

You mentioned that you were too heavy during that dive. How much did you wear (in the neckweight?) with the Orca suit in the sea? At what depth were you neturally buoyant? (That's probably a better question.)

I used to dive quite light, but have added weight in recent months, and sometimes wonder whether it may be a good idea to use more still. A friend of mine wants to try heavy weighting. I find it hard to get my head around the physiological pros and cons of light and heavy weighting.:confused:
My deepest dives were done using a 5mm jacket with 3mm trousers and a 0.75kg neckweight in freshwater. I think I was neutral at about 15-16m (with full packing of course). Those dives felt pretty good to me. I've yet to try out the 1kg neckweight to compare. The temperature dropped before I had the chance. :waterwork
I'm convinced that weighting has a huge bearing on performance, perhaps second only to technique. I fear that finding the optimum weighting will be a matter of experimentation -bah.:(


I was using a 1700g neck weight.
This put me neutral around 15m.
However, I would hit 1.2m/s while sinking over 80m. This is too fast. With arms extended, your terminal velocity should be 1.05-1.10m/s (MAX), and if you keep your arms by your side, your terminal velocity should be 1.00m/s. So, use that to figure out how much weight you should wear. Then, to figure out when you should start sinking, here's a tip: start sinking at the depth were you will sink at 0.80-0.85m/s.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

Eric, that's and story to tell to your sons, congratulations not for the depth but to be alive. It had to be a hard time for you.
You told me that is better to have type IIb muscle fibers (fast twitch), but I was wondering how we can make a long effort in anaerobic metabolism. From diving mammals I now they use aerobic metabolism during their dives.
I have a dude, what you say is logical, in the last part of the dive we should rely in anaerobic metabolism, but in the first part aerobic. So the training has to be focused in having both fibers types?. At this moment I'm working to have more tipe I fibers (more myoglobin, mithochondrias and oxidative enzimes) but you make me think that fast twitch fibers are important too.
What do you suggest me?
One last question, when I have that tiredness in the legs is better to stop few seconds?
Thanks for your answers
I've always kicked continuously during constant weight (if we're talking about the ascent here). My approach is to favour my quads more at depth when heavy. My strokes are quite gentle - I wouldn't describe them as 'kicks'. One key thing that I (try to) do is continuously modify my stroke as I ascend and become lighter... So as I ascend I use my quads less and less and undulate and elongate more, and all the while putting less effort into the stroke and finally stop moving altogether and totally relax my body from about 8m.

(A good dive for me is when I'm not thinking about my strokes and I seem to run on autopilot- my mind is blank with no real conscious thought. It almost feels like being in a trance - probably the effect that the cold and narcosis have on me. It's a strange feeling and quite difficult to describe. I only tend to experience it during the deep parts of the ascent. You either know exactly what I mean or have no idea what I'm talking about!:eek: )

Interesting figures about the speeds. I think that's a good way to look at the problem.

I've analysed by best constant weight dives and it seems I rarely sink faster than 1.0m/s. My average descent speeds are about 0.9m/s. Maybe I could try a little more weight - hmm.

During my best free immersion dives, I pull continuously throughout the entire descent (~70secs) but the frequency and force gradually decrease with time. The descent speed are (surprisingly constant) at 0.95m/s.

My ascents tend to be slower than the descent at around 0.85m/s... true for both CW and FI. That's not a deliberate strategy, they just seem to be that way?

Muscle Fiber Type


Your question about the muscle fiber type is a good one. As always, we must look to our mammalian friends for the answers.

Among seals, there are vast differences in muscle fiber composition, based on diving during & foraging habits (some seals need quick bursts of speed).

From the following medline reference:

We are told that:
Grey seals have:
57% slow twitch fibers (I)
5% fast twitch oxidative fibers (IIa)
38% fast twitch glycolytic fibers (IIb)

Fur seals have:
7% slow twitch fibers (I)
25% fast twitch oxidative fibers (IIa)
68% fast twitch glycolytic fibers (IIb)

The difference is that the slow twitch muscles of seals have 10 times more myoglobin that slow twitch muscles of humans; it is in theory possible to increase the myoglobin of human muscles, but the best method is not yet known.

However, I calculated that it should be possible to do a 100m cw dive with entirely anaerobic muscle fibers. Until we find a way to dramatically increase myoglobin in slow twitch fibers, I would say go for as much fast twitch glycolytic fibers as possible.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

Hi Guys, thought some readers may find this useful, as it relates to the original question in this thread:

My friend Ants (who uses bifins in a mono kick) and I (with my mono) have been going to a 'swim stroke technician', who has helped us IMMENSELY. We have mainly been doing dynamics but are doing more constant weight now summer is approaching.

So, our new coach taught us to kick, glide, kick, glide in our dynamic swims, not just kick kick kick. This morning I was doing 5 mono kicks to cover a 25m pool. That's better than my usual 13 kicks for a 50m pool/8 for a 33m. The glide has to be streamlined (arms straight and stretched out!), and helps you relax on the way.

Some people need to be weighted correctly or they float up on the glide.

Anyway, Ants set our new NZ dynamic (unofficial) record last week (133.3m) using this technique, which isn't so bad really (much better than me still!).

I am now using this technique on my constant weight dives where possible. Of course, you can't kick glide kick glide all the way on a CW dive - obviously the first few kicks are hard, then you can glide some on each stroke, then eventually all glide past your -ve point. On the way back up it's the same, keep kicking for the first few, then slow and use the glide, then glide when +ve.

I'm yet to perfect the stroke because of the different buoyancies, having to wear a wetsuit, and a lack of quality water time right now, but preliminary results are for an easier dive than before.

Hope this helps

Yes you are right, some diving birds when looking for food (fast swimming) don't use the diving reflex, so they rely on anaerobic metabolism for that.
I read an study where they take 4 groups: High and Low training in Hypoxemic and normoxemic conditions.
At the end of the study the High-Hypoxemic group had higher levels of HIF-1 and Myoglobin as well as oxidative enzimes.
If you want to read it mail me, I'll like to know your opinion.

I agree with your strategy I have used mainly with dynamic without fins and found that the physical effort is less than usual, I'll star with neck weighting to avoid upper displacement while gliding.
I'll try at the end of the month how it work in CW.
Thanks all for the insight


Can you send me this study (or link to this study?) Please send me a personal message.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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