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Question Pushing the dry breath hold limit, and time under water?

Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
Hey everyone,

I'm basically completely new to freediving. I started trying it out for fun this summer for the first time, in the muddy waters of Sweden/the Baltic sea. At this point i hadn't worked on my technique or breath holding ability and i've yet to used fins. So far i've only been down to around 4 meters. Now during the winter and autumn i haven't been able to keep up and practice, i've watched lots of Youtube videos for inspiration and for learning and i've started to do CO2 tables and work on my breath holding. Regarding equalization, i guess i've done pretty good, i haven't really practiced it, it rather came naturally to me from the first time i tried to dive those few meters and i can do it without having to pinch my nose.

At the point of this summer when i started to free dive a little bit, i couldn't hold my breath for more than around 1 min 30 secs, on dry practice. And i probably couldn't stay under the surface for any longer than 30 secs (approximately). Now after some CO2 training, my best result is 4:05 mins on dry practice, which i guess is decent? I'm so tempted to see how long i would be able to stay under water now with my new breath holding technique, but i have no opportunity to train during the winter. But is it possible to draw any conclusions form these results, just to get an idea of how long i should be able to stay down now? I understand that this is highly individual and depends on numerous things, so is it even possible or meaningful to try to calculate on it? 1:30 mins dry breath hold corresponded to ≈30 secs under water, 4:05 mins dry breath hold should correspond to what time under water...?

However, more generally, i also wonder if 4:05 would be considered a good result for a beginner? And how to continue from here? It feels like i've reached somewhat of a plateau with the CO2 tables. Is it necessary to keep pushing the limit and how would the practice scheme for that look? Of course i want to be able to stay under the surface for as long as possible, exploring all the things down there.
 

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
903
106
148
71
Anchorage, AK
4:05 is very good for beginner. It is great beginning to your diving. To advance you really need access to water and a training partner. You won't know how well you can do underwater until you try it. There is no direct relationship. Until then, keep practicing CO2 and O2 tables, and maybe try apnea walking; hold your breath and walk until you have to breathe, rest and breathe for 30 to 60 seconds and do it again. Just be sure to do it on grass or other semi-soft ground
 
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Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
Thank you Hteas!
I went to the pool the other day and did some real training under water for the first time. I noticed that i ran out of breath much quicker while being in water and swimming around. I thought specifically about not wasting too much energy when swimming. I couldn't measure the time under water but it was certainly not long. I could swim 25 meters (82 feet) under water which i thought was pretty bad. I had imagined that my dry breath hold limit of around 4 minutes would give me more. But the breath holding turned out to be very different while actually swiming under water than when just laying on the couch practicing.
 
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Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
Your bouyancy, gear, and technique can dramatically effect how far you can go underwater.
Well all the gear i used was a mask. No fins, weight belt or anything. What i struggled the most with was my bouyancy, the pool was 5,3 meters deep (17,4 feet) and i had to spend the same amount of power to stay down as for moving forward. I guess that's not how it should be...
I will look up some proper and efficient swimming technique, so that i hopefully will be able to swim loger!
 

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
903
106
148
71
Anchorage, AK
Were you training with someone directly watching?
Youcan do the dynamics with less than a full lung and put more of your energy into moving forward. If you do this, however, it is even more important that you have a training buddy watching each attempt.
 

grarena

Member
Jan 19, 2019
42
3
13
63
New Orleans
You made good improvements on statics. What are you doing for CO2 training specifically. There are many options. Curious what did you use? I’ve done many different variations. The classic 1:45 to 15 sec increments. Then I did 3 min hold 1 min recovery X 8. Now I’m doing 1:30 hold with 1 breath only X 8. This got me to a 6:00 min dry static. I’m convinced in the water I can manage 7min this year. As for swimming I think that is different for everyone.
 
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Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
Were you training with someone directly watching?
Youcan do the dynamics with less than a full lung and put more of your energy into moving forward. If you do this, however, it is even more important that you have a training buddy watching each attempt.
Kinda. Me and my buddy went to the pool together, he is not really interested in freediving so i was the only one practicing that while he was doing backflips from the jump tower, but we were on the watch for eachother.
That seems like a good idea, i will try that the next time, thanks! It should be interesting to see how long a half filled lung would get me for example. If the decreased bouyancy will make me able to get farther, or if i will get the opposite effect because of the lower O2 level. I guess there's somewhat of a compromise between less bouyancy via a less filled lung, and the O2 stock, regarding how far you can swim.
 
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Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
You made good improvements on statics. What are you doing for CO2 training specifically. There are many options. Curious what did you use? I’ve done many different variations. The classic 1:45 to 15 sec increments. Then I did 3 min hold 1 min recovery X 8. Now I’m doing 1:30 hold with 1 breath only X 8. This got me to a 6:00 min dry static. I’m convinced in the water I can manage 7min this year. As for swimming I think that is different for everyone.
When i first started, i begun with a hold of only 45 seconds, and 10 seconds of decreased breathing time after each hold, starting at 1 minute, until i only was breathing for 10 seconds, after that i increased the breathing time with 10 seconds again until i was back at 1 minute, still with 45 seconds holds in between. I really liked this exercise so i've kept the breathing scheme the same all the time, i've just increased the breath holds in between. Today i go for 2 minutes breath holds for each session, from 1 minute breathing down to 10 seconds.

I've really slacked off in the last weeks/months and haven't kept up the practice. Today i did my first O2-table which felt pretty good. While doing this i had a breathing time of 2 minutes, and increased every breath hold by 10 seconds, starting at 2 minutes holds and went up to 3 mins 30 secs. After that i tried a maximum static breath hold and got to 4 mins 16 secs which is my best result so far!

May i ask, for how long have you been doing this to get to 6 mins static?
 

grarena

Member
Jan 19, 2019
42
3
13
63
New Orleans
You are doing well. I’m 62. Always could hold underwater. Usually 3 min holds was the norm. No training. No real huge effort. 3 min was hard don’t get me wrong but never did or tried or even knew about CO2 or O2 training. So after a 4 min 10 sec old decided to test the Co2 training. This was 6 months ago. Did a 5 min hold on day 3. Then 3 months later 5:30. 3 months later did a 6:00 min hold. Dry static. This was 3 weeks ago. I feel a 7 min hold in water is very doable by end of year.
 
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Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
You are doing well. I’m 62. Always could hold underwater. Usually 3 min holds was the norm. No training. No real huge effort. 3 min was hard don’t get me wrong but never did or tried or even knew about CO2 or O2 training. So after a 4 min 10 sec old decided to test the Co2 training. This was 6 months ago. Did a 5 min hold on day 3. Then 3 months later 5:30. 3 months later did a 6:00 min hold. Dry static. This was 3 weeks ago. I feel a 7 min hold in water is very doable by end of year.
Cool! I'm 23. But 6 mins is very impressive! Maybe some people are predisposed for developing this skill.
However i've noticed that the progress slows down remarkably when getting closer to 4 minutes. Working my way up from 1:30 to around 3 minutes wasn't a too big deal and i advanced pretty fast. But now, when trying to go beyond 4 minutes it feels like i've reached a plateau...
 

grarena

Member
Jan 19, 2019
42
3
13
63
New Orleans
That’s what I hear. That getting to 6 min was good but 7 might not be as easy as I think. I’ll keep at it and see in 6 months where I am. What are you doing for training? Anything dynamic? I’ve just started incorporating some apnea walks. 1 min walk. 20 sec recovery 8 times. I think soon I’ll be ready to do some water stuff in the summer
 
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Mayfly

New Member
Dec 29, 2018
7
0
1
23
Sweden
That’s what I hear. That getting to 6 min was good but 7 might not be as easy as I think. I’ll keep at it and see in 6 months where I am. What are you doing for training? Anything dynamic? I’ve just started incorporating some apnea walks. 1 min walk. 20 sec recovery 8 times. I think soon I’ll be ready to do some water stuff in the summer
So far i've only done static training but i've planned to start doing apnea walks as well. I would prefer to do that outside so i just have to wait until all the snow and ice is gone. I also plan on visiting the pool again and do some under water training (this time with a better understanding of how to save energy and swim more efficiently).

The last 2 days i haven't been able to practice at all unfortunately. After the last time i the O2 table, and hold maximum static to 4:16, my chest has been hurting quite a bit. I don't know if that has anything to do with that practice session though...
 

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
903
106
148
71
Anchorage, AK
sounds like you have that common disease: TMTS (too much too soon).
You really do have to work up to maximum efforts, like it or not ; )
 

grarena

Member
Jan 19, 2019
42
3
13
63
New Orleans
I have been training dry statics for 6 months. My baseline static was 4:10. Then did CO2 training and have been at it about 5 days a week and reached 6 min static hold. I feel it will be hard to get to 7 min on dry static and my best effort would be water with a buddy of course. I do about a 5:00- 5:15 hold almost every day even if I’ve done some CO2 tables. I vary the tables. They can get boring. Any thoughts on water and how I might get to 7 min? It’s difficult to get a real diving reflex on dry statics. I think guys that are going 7-8 min aren’t doing this in dry static but likely in the water. Thoughts?
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
224
127
58
23
Canada
@grarena and @Mayfly

Based on what you guys have said in this thread I think you're both doing very well. Something that I might add is about why your progressions might be slowing down as your numbers get bigger and bigger, and why you might feel like you're on/or about to be on a plateau.

The overall culprit is overtraining. In Mayfly's case, this comes from maybe reaching a level where the difficulty is beyond what your body is currently comfortable with (this describes any PB, but is more serious the closer you get to you current 'true maximum'). For Grarena, although you haven't shown any signs of slowing down your progression. Adding 1:00 every 3 months is a great approach, as long as its done correctly. I would say that doing 5:00-5:15 every day (with a ~6:00 PB) is too much, and puts you at great risk of suddenly becoming overtrained. After a PB, and during most of teh build up to the next PB, your training should be very easy. (I might be wrong and 5:00 is very easy for you, so I apologize for making assumptions), but in general this is too close to you PB (87.5% in your case) for "every day training". These numbers should be reserved for the final build up to your next PB, and base training should be done somewhere in the 65-75% range of your current maximum.

My suggestion for both of you is to learn about, and implement (mainly) periodization into your training. Its important to cycle through your numerical ability over time. After setting a 4:16 (mayfly) or 6:00 (grarena) the best way to progress long term would be to actually scale back your workouts and recover from this effort. This scaling-back gives you the rest + recovery you need to come back stronger in the future, bring your workouts back up to maximum intensity and attempt a new PB.

Depending on what you are training for, and the individual, I would normally recommend training cycles of either 3 or 6 months, where around 60-75% of that time is spend on training at lower intensity than the training around your last PB. This approach takes patience, as you spend a long time NOT attempting PBs, but it can often make your overall progression much easier.

I have actually just released a free ebook on this topic (and two other training principles: Volume over intensity, and taper-off periods) which are also very useful for any athlete who has a focus on increasing PBs and progressing. Heres a link to the download https://mailchi.mp/51402a5a704c/beabetterfreediver
 
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grarena

Member
Jan 19, 2019
42
3
13
63
New Orleans
Nathan excellent advice. You are right tho 5:00 or 5:15 is not easy. It’s too the point where I ask myself how did I get to 6:00. I’m overtraining I’m sure. It’s who I am tho but I’ll back off. Can you give advise on do other guys do statics at 7 or 8 min in dry conditions or is that too much to expect and I need water for that, diving reflex benefit which is negligible. As to spending more time doing easy stuff what specifically for me does that mean?
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
224
127
58
23
Canada
Can you give advise on do other guys do statics at 7 or 8 min in dry conditions or is that too much to expect and I need water for that, diving reflex benefit which is negligible. As to spending more time doing easy stuff what specifically for me does that mean?
I think static is the main discipline where you can expect to hit similar numbers both dry and wet as dive response in static is, like you said, pretty much negligible. The main benefit in water is reduced feeling of pressure on your back, since gravity isn't compressing your full lungs, at least this is my experience.

Easy stuff: In general easy means 6-7/10 difficulty. So lets say your 6:00 was a 9.5-10/10 (you couldn't have given any more), then your easy training would be what ever feels like a 6-7/10. If 5:00 is "how did I get to 6:00" difficult, this is probably in the 8-9/10 range.. The same applies to your tables. Lets say you're physically capable of doing a 3:00 CO2 table (50% of 6:00), but this is your absolute limit (10/10 difficult), then you shouldn't be training at this level all the time. Again reduce to 6-7/10 difficulty.

Doing this builds confidence and relaxation, and allows for greater recovery while training your base fitness level + acquiring new skills and techniques.

Only when ramping up your training (3-6 weeks from a PB attempt), would you want to start taking your tables and target statics up to 8-10/10. If you do this correctly and taper-off in your last weeks (described in my ebook), your fitness should be in a place where your previous PB is a 9/10 difficulty, leaving that last little bit you have left for a NEW number.

Now, a lot of this is trial and error to get the balance right (each individual requires something different).. But if you can, it makes progressing a lot more enjoyable and reliable. Something else to consider is timing. Up to 6:00 you might have been able to add 1:00/3 months. To get to 7:00 you might need do break your 3 month cycles into 00:30 and take 6 months to add 1:00. It could even take a year at 00:30, 00:15, 00:15. Again this is individual but something to consider.. As the numbers get bigger, the progressions get smaller.