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Psychology & physiology

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New Member
Aug 30, 2001
There've been discussion about this also before, but I'd like to ask some more.

How important is the role of physical training when freediving, and maximizing bottom time, constant weight or dynamic apnea?

There are lots of 'personal profiles' and interviews where world top freedivers write about their quite hard physical training programs, but then there are also some people who say freediving is 90% psychology and 10% physiology.

When for example doing dynamic apnea or just 'cruising around', and getting first contraction after x meters, and then another and another, are those really moveable with psychological things or do you have to be in better shape?

Juha I.
Juha, I know you probably wont like my answer, but I firmly believe that all aspects of training are important.
If one has good mental focus, a lot can be achieved. If one adds great fitness, than more can be achieved. Don't forget the mental awareness that comes with all kinds of fitness training; it is inevitable. Everything is connected. Also, if one has great fitness, then that too can be improved with focus training. Some divers do not attribute much to their cognitive facility, but they have an increased capacity for focus and awareness because of their great fitness, whether they believe it or not....it's just "natural" to them, maybe they have a genetic predisposition to greater mental ability.
The spiritual aspect of diving is equally important. This is the part that you will use when you dive without a computer, watch, or depth guage. This is where you dive to dive, not for any other reason. Where you dive to live in the moment, or look around your self, or look inside your self. This is the "muscle" that drives me, and is as important as the other two, in my opinion.
Erik Y.

First, thanks Erik :)

Do you guys have any tips for this:

I can easily make 1'45" to 2'10" apnea walks when relaxed. But when I'm in pool, I can't get over 50m dynamic apnea comfortable. These can be on same day, so I think it cannot be physiological thing. Any tips?

For example, with bottom time 1'45" I think I should be making 100m dynamic?
Hi Juha,

With a static apnea walk of about 2min you should even be able to do a pool dynamic of about 110-120m (going on 1 sec per metre as well as the fact that walking is weight bearing while this additional force is reduced in water).

I suspect the problem might be related to your kicking speed/frequency. That is, you may be going to fast.

If walking apnea works well then try this trick. Work out your stride frequency in walking and try and use the same frequency in dynamic apnea (in the pool). You will then notice if you are going to fast.

Best thing to do if you feel you can't even make 50m is to think slow. Start nice and easy and even close your eyes and you might find you touch the wall at 50m before you even realize it.

Hope that helps.

Take your time

Hi Juha,
One thing I've learned from freediving is to be patient. You "don't" have to brake any record. As has been sayed before, the psycological and physiological aspects are both important. When you are walking, you are in a familiar enviroment, and also you are walking for many years, that's why can make it with efficiency. I don't know how familiar are you with the water, but unless you are a dolphin you spend most of your time out of it.
You should review your kick, the way you turn around and the speed.
Some times I have problems just doing 50 meters, but after slowing down my pace I reached easily.
I suggest you to practice the 50 meters until you feel comfortable with this distance.
Try to take more time between dynamic apneas (3-4 minutes) in an increasing way, other days you can try a shorter distance but with less recovery time (60", 45", 30")
Keep trying.

Frank Pernett
psychology in everything

There are psychological aspects in every part of training from the more global aspects of the personality that would include how disciplined you are, how adaptive you can be, and the natural manner in how you respond to stress ranging from a high risk to a low risk seeking person, somatic sensorium, to the application of psychological techinques such as visualization, relaxation response training, and the developing more efficient learning techinques to increase the benefit of experience. So these statements which appear to have meaning in them, like 10% physical and 90% psychology, are really only a manner in which people attempt to make a meaningless opinion appear meaningful.

The truth is both much simpler and more complex. The simple truth is that effort is required for improvement. So any effort in any area will be more beneficial than no effort. The complex truth is that the type and optimal amount of effort varies greatly from individual to individual.

So four things are important. First chart what you are doing and don't keep doing things that are not creating improvement. Notice that quite often something will increase our performance and then lose its effect. This is natural and is referred to as the general adaptation response - its part of us. So change to something else. Second, work with some one else. Even someone who is not highly trained or may even have less knowledge than we do can still provide valuable feedback on what seems to work from what doesn't. Of course getting training like that provided by Krack and LeMaster is also vital. (Remember spending money is just another form of effort!) Third, experiment! There is no gospel; a technique that works for one person may not work for another. I know people who are driven to high levels of agitation by progressive relaxation training but can listen to music (that I find to be hideous) and have sharp reduction in both their heart and respiration rates (while mine go through the ceiling because it feels like someone is trying to drill through my skull). Yoga works well for some and not at all for others. Some people use very specific sequence for breathing up while others just go on "feel."

Overall, nothing takes the place of being physically and psychologically fit. Find your life balance. It doesn't matter how fit I am if I am fighting with my wife I cannot dive worth fecal matter. Finally, identify weaknesses and devote an equal amount of time to them as are devoted to strengths. The strength areas are more fun so we want to do them more. It takes deliberate effort to work on weaknesses.
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I think the most critical thing in my training now is psychological. I'm afraid to push further, although I think I'm not even close to my limits. Contractions when doing dynamic in -4.5m are quite mild, and that makes harder to know absolut truth. I also do not have excactly information where my limits are, how does it feel.

I think experience helps, and training on high CO2 helps to handle more contractions. But what kind of other tips there are?


I also made some corrections about speed and relaxing, I think those helped too.
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