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New guy here needs help : Overcoming the struggle + any other vital tips?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Apr 25, 2004
Hi I am new to this forum and I am highly interested in getting into freediving. I would just like to say how happy I am that
I finally remembered to seek out a site like this one after years and years of holding onto unanswered questions (I can't believe I let it pass me by this long)

- let me start off by stating that when I was very young, I quickly realized that the feeling I got from holding my breath until I could no longer do so - was worse (more intimidating) than any other feeling I could think of at the time -and so Freediving instantly gained my recognition and respect as one of the most challenging things anyone could do

- now 15 + years later I still feel the same way- infact if ever I do feel some kind of sickness or pain (that by normal standards is meant to feel really horrible) I will actually begin a dry static just to remind myself of how much worse things can really get (even when I run long distances - one of my techniques is to hold my breath until I struggle and this is usually enough to make the discomfort I am experiencing in my run - feel secondary in comparison)

- I don't know if this is common or if I have just simply not yet experienced a really unbearable type of pain/sensation (perhaps cancer/ disease afflicted persons can put me in my place?)

- infact it was apnea that really got me thinking of what a biblical sense of purgatory might feel like (just imagine the worst part of your struggle extended for all eternity - I am not a religious person and I use to hope evangelists never made that connection - fearing they might weild it around as some kind of divine conversion tool)

- I very seldom attempt personal best wet Statics (because I have no one to spot me/ I'm afraid to), I haven't really timed a
true negative static and my dry static limit is somewhere around 2:30 - 3:00 minutes - no packing, 3:00-3:30 packing (I know this is quite poor)

- so my first question is : Is it common to feel so fearful of reaching your limit during apnea - that psychologically you
just can't handle the sensation (telling yourself things like "you're going to die now" "get ready" and "this is nothing compared to what happens/ed to war torture victims" etc)

- during the struggle stages of my max dry/wet statics I also pose myself with questions such as : "what if I were stuck
underwater 100 m below the surface and I felt like this - could I make it up" or "what if I were being held under water or being suffocated by some means of torture and I felt like this - what would I do" or "if I do B/O will anyone find me/ be able to revive me"

- it is thoughts and fears like this that cross my mind every time I approach my limit, and often I simply give up because I psyche myself out of the moment (by not wanting to imagine "what if" the hypothetical scenarios I make up in my mind - really did come true")

- then I am sometimes even too afraid to return to that point of struggle, from being "scared off" in a way (therefore my PB
doesn't have a chance to progress)

- now I am reading about all of the technical terms given to the things that I have always wondered about, such as : samba,
hypocapnic LMC /Blackout, hypoxic BO etc, and I realize that I have a long long way to go before I actually even come close
to my true limit/potential

- I have read the "samba-fatigue-blackout waldmann criteria.xls" document and I still can't tell if I have ever really even reached the "fatigue" limit - let alone entered into the "samba" stages

-I usually give up after getting an over-heated feeling combined with my body doing it's natural thing of trying to get me to breath again by contracting and twitching rapidly and my "psyche out" thoughts - but I never feel close to losing conciousness or even dizzy? (always a clean static)

- I actually use the overheat feeling to warm me up when I am feeling cold and to wake me up (increase blood flow to my brain) when I am feeling tired or unfocussed

- I always wonder to myself right before I max out " what if this is only stage 1 in a 10 stage progressing ladder - if so I will never make it to the top/bottom"

- another question I have (for all of you who have PB's of 7 minutes and over) :
"is the struggle you feel before you reach your present day limit/max - the same as (or comparible to) the struggle you use to
feel when you were just starting out and had PB's of only 3 minutes + .. etc?

- sorry about the post length (I guess I am just too anxious to get all of my questions out after all this time)

Mugenman, welcome to the forums. :)

Many of your questions can be answered entierly or in part, by the use of the search feature. I am sure you have already browsed parts of this forum (as you indicate in your message), but there are tons of material here. Sometimes there are hidden gems of information in threads that are really about something else. Whenever you feel you have some spare time, keep browsing the old threads. You can also check out the chat. There are not always people in there, but whenever there are, you will find that they are very friendly and helpfull.

Regarding the mental part - this is what works for me (dry static):
When you are in the struggle phase of a static breathhold, try to think about how it feels and how you can actually live with it. Say to yourself that if you have taken 10 seconds of strong contractions, sure you can take another 5... and when those 5 are gone, tell yourself you have just proven you can handle it. That it isn't that bad. Have a conversation with yourself. Do pep-talk all the way. Sometimes I watch the clock at the end of a long (for me) static. I focus on the seconds ticking by. One by one. Every tick is one step forward. It can be daunting to find you are fighting hard and there is still half a minute left on your target time. In such cases I refocus on something else, music sometimes, or just to make another 10 seconds. Maybe I can't make 30 seconds, but I sure can beat 10.... and when they are gone, I keep going... 5 more seconds...it isn't that bad. I can do it... just a few more seconds.. tick tack... positive thoughts.

Just note that everyone has a different approach. Some listen to music. Others try to repeat a word or part of a song/text. Some almost fall asleep. Some even pretend the contractions are like breathing. There are endless variations. I recommend you experiment freely with various approaches to see what works.

In addition you should do increasingly long holds, with a short rest in between. Don't go for your max on your first attempt. Your body adjusts after each breathold. It will be easier and easier after each hold. If your dry PB is 3'30", go for 90 seconds on your first go, and then rest for say 2 mins. Then add another 15 seconds to your next attempt. After several holds you will notice how the struggle is more and more delayed. This is a great confidence booster.

There are static tables for this kind of training, which one can download for free. Go to http://www.freediver.co.uk/ and try them if you haven't already.

One way to quickly get accustomed to the uncomfortable feelings might be to do negative statics (empty your lungs of air and then hold). That will take you to the struggle phase very fast, and you can then practice becoming accustomed to how it feels. Do it again and again. It should become second nature after a while and you will no longer feel such fear.

Please let us know how you progress.
Last edited:
A quick word... as I have reached 7+ min statics, they overall feel easier than when I started and was doing 3:00. Often one can hold until they samba or blackout and not experience anything terribly uncomfortable. Some of it is accounted to CO2 tolerance, low O2 tolerance, and the breathing technique.

Good luck.
I keep telling myself "No one's ever died from contractions!" Sometimes it actually works! :)

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