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Question Psychological or physical adaption


New Member
May 3, 2018
I was just wondering from the vets out there why does it seem like my first breath hold of the day is the toughest and the others get easier. Is this a psychological problem or does the body slightly adapt on your next holds when training.

J Campbell

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2001
Annapolis, MD, USA
Absolutely. Your breath holds get easier as you progress through a dive session. I's because you need a few dives to get your dive response to kick in and also you are probably more relaxed after "getting into the groove". Read up on "mammalian dive reflex". Also read up on "breathe-up" and relaxation techniques for diving - both will extend your breath hold time.

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
I have a slightly different opinion to Mark on the physical changes, but in terms of physiological changes it is pretty much as he said it, you just need to get into the groove. I've started playing around with doing deep dives without a warm up (dive #1) and ended up doing a really easy personal best this way. In order to get in the groove without using dives I set up the dive line early, clip myself to the buoy and do a 10-15min snooze out in the water. Then my buddies come and meet me out there but because I've gotten to "sleep" my mind is slow which makes the first dive a lot more comfortable and relaxed.

Physically (dive response) there is some debate on this and I'm in the camp of more dives= less dive response, not that warm up dives increase the response. In a competitive scenario this is bad and it means a lowered physical limit, but in a recreational sense it means more comfort. The reason for this is that the dive response is technically a stress response/safety mechanism. The more urgently your body thinks it needs to save O2 the more it will. This works both ways in that discomfort can cause DR, but also that DR can increase discomfort by triggering the urge to breathe. The more dives you do in a session the less urgent things seem and the response gets weaker, and therefore less urge to breath.

Another possible physical reason, that only really applies to static sessions, is accumulative hyperventilation. Static breath holds, even to max discomfort don;t significantly increase CO2 levels, which means that if you use HV between holds, even if it is really minor, your overall CO2 levels will slowly decrease throughout the session.


Jun 30, 2018
ghardaia, Algeria
For me, i noticed when i go train in the pool for DNF and DYN, my time get better the longer i stay in the pool (1 hour)
I also feel like peeing many times (even tho i'm not exposed to depth pressure)
I think it's bc of spleen contractions, and more hemoglobin being released in the blood stream.
Ofc, relaxation contribute, but i think the increase in performance i noticed was more due to physiological changes rather than psychological.
Also, the body can react differently to stressors, high CO2 levels can trigger higher heart rates, but if coupled with relaxation and diving reflex, it have the opposite effects, like CO2 contribued to dilate the blood vessels, if you managed to trigger the peripheral vasco-contrictions, most blood will go to your heard and brain, and thus you may extend your breath hold beyond your normal performance.