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Mind sharing your step by step pre-dive breathing

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jan 16, 2002
I hear a lot about all the various ways there are to breath and settle down before a dive to get the most oxygenated, but with no written information on the best techniques, or the ones that work for you. Would you all mind sharing your pre-dive preps?
Pre-dive Prep

Hey Mark, confused yet?:confused:

All this info has got to be.

Well I'll tell you my routine, but you should first know what belly breathing is and what purging is.

Do you?

Remember that you won't do you best dive/static on your first try. It takes upward of 30 mins. to get the mammilian dive reflex to kick in. So be patient.

The slow deep breathing that starts in the stomach and pulls up into the chest is belly breathing. If I'm being timed in static I'll do a 5:00 facial immersion. (No mask with nose clip, I never wear a mask during statics) Then I breathe up for 3:00 to do a 2:30 static. During that 3:00 breathe up I purge for the last 1:00 then hold. (I would recommend not doing so many purges and doing a few belly breaths after the purges) I have adapted my body to handle the purging at the end, but for some people they get light headed and can BO if not careful. After the 1st static I rest for 5:00. Then I breathe up the same way, but for 5:00 and do a 3:30 static. After the 2nd static I rest for 7:00 then breathe up for 7:00 and go for a long one. When I say rest it means just hang out talk to you buddy, relax. Don't move around too much. If you get cold get oput and warm up. Don't try static/dives while shivering. So doing the math my total time up until the last static is 38:00.

Dive prep is a bit different.
When I'm training I'm on a fixed line so I'm able to do free immersions.
1st I do a 5:00 facial immersion then breathe up for 3:00 then do an untimed surface static. (I do this until I start to feel crappy) Then I breathe up for 5:00 and do a free immersion to 80 ft. Hang there for approx. 30 sec. then surface. Then rest for 7:00 then breathe up for 7:00 min then go for a target dive.

Well hope that helps.

Who's next?

Thanks for the help but on a more simple note

I kind of have a grasp on what your were explaining, but on a more simple note I was refering to the actualy deep breathing, belly breathing, purced lips, hypoV vs not hypoV etc....

before I dive I just try to relax, close my eyes and deep belly breath to the max and stretch my rib cage. From there I'm lost. Ive heard to breath fast in, and slow out with purced lips. Ive heard super slow in , pause and super slow out. Ive heard just prior to going down, take 3-4 shirt hypo blow outs and then your big slow inhale. So I guess that was my question. I was hoping to get as many postings, so I could give them all a shot. Thanks for all the help.
Wow! I should take more time and do it even slower.

For my dry static I do belly breathing in a 4:4:8 rhythm: inhale 4 heartbeats using diaphragm, hold 4 heartbeats, exhale 8 heartbeats with relaxed rib cage but with tongue resistance (comes out as a long ssshhhhh sound). Usually in 4-5 minutes my fingers, toes, and forehead would start to get cold (is this similar to the dive reflex?) Some days if the conditions are right I would get into the alpha state when doing this, though it's hard to explain when the switch into the 'relax/alert' mode happens.

So when I feel I'm ready I would do 5 purges in the 2:0:3 rhythm, inhale the last breath fully, wait a few seconds, then suck in once to top off my lungs (I don't have the hang of 'packing' yet, should purge for a longer time too).

Doing the above routine generally get me to 2:30 the first time, 3:30 the second time, and 4:00-4:30 the rest of the session.

After I give up the long breath and get the new one, I would move my limbs a little about to reestablish circulation. Then repeat.

DSV, from your post it looks like you take twice as long to recover and re-breathe-up than I do. I'll try that.

I haven't tried wet static yet. Octo and I will probably do that one of these days. We usually just warm up for dynamic apnea doing neg. pressure dives.

Mark, my breathe-up routine was originally based on Erik Y.'s description in the 'Western Canada Regionals' thread. Check it out.

Any feedbacks, suggestions are appreciated.

Let me make a few comments.
"before I dive I just try to relax, close my eyes and deep belly breath to the max and stretch my rib cage."
Suggestion; don't breathe to the max, there's a better way to stretch the lungs and you're using too much energy. Relaxed belly breathing and eyes closed are good.
"breath fast in, and slow out with purced lips. Ive heard super slow in , pause and super slow out."
suggest you don't think slow and fast and certainly not max. Comfortable, smooth and relaxed are better. Pursed lips will slow the exhale a little and help relax. Pauses too.
"Ive heard just prior to going down, take 3-4 shirt hypo blow outs and then your big slow inhale."
Suggest that you limit your hypos to once per day on the 'big dive' and don't struggle with the big inhale. 4-5 easy packs get you the same place with a lot less energy.
I had a chance to observe Bret LeMaster, up close, when he made a series of deep dives (he was placing target flags for our national team on their deepest dive of the day). I have a few reasons to believe he was operating near optimum. During his surface intervals it was hard to say if he'd fallen asleep or not. A little commotion, just before the dive, was all. His actions and those of the team members have convinced me that relaxation is the key.

Great breakdown Bill

Great breakdown Bill. Thats exactly what I was looking for. The rights and wrongs. Although I dont know what packs are. Is that like swallowing extra air over the max inhale?

packing is using mouth and throat muscles to push air into the lungs-be careful, you can damage your lungs if you get it wrong. There are some great threads going into much detail, so I won't go there-here.

after stretching my ribcage, I split my routine into three parts:

Relaxed belly breathing 2-5 min

Relaxed O2 saturation breathing (full breath in and restricted breath out slowly (I restrict air with my tongue because it works with or without snorkel). 2-5 min

Purge breaths with focus on full exhale. 1-8 depending on how far into the mammalian dive reflex. Caution here because this is a borderline safe activity and I recommend professional training prior to playing with this.

Final breath to maximum as relaxed as possible.

For dive warmups, I do 2-4 dives no deeper than 20' and hang out @ depth until my first contraction. 2-4 dives to 30' the same way and then 2-4 dives to 20' with lungs empty of air and stay until the second, then third contraction. The above breathe-up between every dive. Gets the dive reflex going every time.

In the pool, I do my first 2-4 dives on 1/2 lung of air and go to first or second contraction. next 2-4 dives with a relaxed exhale (emptier lungs). next few with a forced exhale (lungs emptier still) and next few dives with forced exhale and 1-2 negative packs. next few dives with forced exhale and 3-4 negative packs. Caution here also: your lungs MUST be used to this. This technique can result in severe and possibly permanant lung damage. DO NOT do this without being trained by someone who Knows this stuff. There are more and more great training clinics teaching this stuff. Get to one.

I echo Bill's insight: relaxation almost to the point of sleeping does seem the way to go easily down the water column.


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I didn't say anything about time. If you can relax fully, you only need about 5 minutes between dives to get to 80% performance. It is not very time efficient to do 10-15 minutes with purges and breathe ups when you are diving many times. I'm not sure but, I think it's better in many ways to do 20 dives at 75% than a three dive routine (that takes 30 minutes) to a 95%, unless you're competing soon. If you enjoy yourself, you'll keep diving. If you keep diving you'll get better and better. With some technique training, once a month is probably enough for pushing the limit.

http://www.ericfattah.com/equalizing.html will tell you about the things you'll need to go deep. He spells things out very well and at the end is the part about packing.

WHEN you hurt yourself there will be a sharp pain that seems to be under the ribs someplace. It only hurts when you breath and if you don't keep forcing it, it will get well in 3-4 weeks. Of course, if your IQ is higher than the water temperature off Miami in the summer, you can start with one or two packs and add one more per week. That way, you may avoid the pain and make a lot of us feel stupid.

best wishes
One hypthesis of mine is this: during the warmup statics, it is not really necessary to do long breathe ups. What I'm trying to do is get the body to react to the CO2 levels and get my mind around breath holding. This is all to get me ready for the PB attempt, so I'm not that concerned about the length of the warmup holds- they will naturally go up as long as there's a reasonable interval....make sense? For the final attempt I wait a significant amount of time to clear CO2 and build O2. Comments?
Erik Young


I practice swimming distances underwater and am pretty interested in what you guys are talking about. With my current technique, I can manage 50 metres on one breath and I have mangaed 75 metres once before.
I just relax for about 2 minutes before a warm up attempt and take a single deep breath before going under.

After 3 or four warm up lengths of around 25 metres, I will go for a 50 or 75 metre attempt. I relax for around 3 minutes and then hyperventilate 3 or 4 times and then go for it.

I have tried breathing techniques like forcing out as much air as I can from my lungs slowly, quickly (almost like a cough), belly breathing (I think that's what it is called), but I am not sure which of them makes that much difference.

Could anyone tell me how I can improve my technique and maybe explain what is meant by the dive reflex, purge breaths, etc.. because I am not familiar with these terms yet.

I was introduced to freediving on holiday last year and haven't had a chance to swim in open waters since. I am confined to a pool until the summer. :(
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