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To pack?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Dec 2, 2004
I've only been pool freediving since late november so excuse my ignorance on this subject but here goes....
- I've tried packing, but seem to use a hell of a lot of effort to get the increase, which also feels incredibly uncomfortable. Am I doing it wrong?
- When I do pool training, I like to feel comfortable, and packing seems to go against all these instincts. It seems like all the extra effort in packing is wasted in the extra time I spend trying to achieve it...(does that make any sense?) I just take one big breath and off I go............
- Also, I don't seem to have contractions. Does this mean I am not pushing myself enough? I have been doing DNF mostly, and don't know whether or not it has any effect on the strength of contactions in comparison to static. (Do you feel contractions more in static?)
I read Umberto Pelizzari's interview on DB and he seems to follow a similar line with regards to packing....Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
Thoughts please
Hi jon

This thread has been up for a while so I figured I would take a shot at it. I am just getting into this sport myself so take this with a grain of salt...

When I pack it also feels unconfortable (I think this is normal) so I only pack a little (1 or 2) when just swimming in the pool. However, it feels MUCH better when I dive down even in a small 17ft deep diving well. I suppose the volume reduction in your lungs contributes to that when you go even a little deeper.

As far as contractions, I cannot help you there since I am trying to figure them out myself at the moment :cool:
Contractions are highly individual and not all people even get them. So it is not correct to assume you're not pushing.

Packing is can take quite a while to learn effeciently. I see a lot of really good freedivers pack in a way that to me seems somehow too hard. A lot of beginners take more time packing that they actually benefit from it. And yes, packing alot makes you feel uncomfortable.

However, this can all be overcome with training. The first times I packed I took maybe 3-4 and already felt I was going to explode. Nowadays, I can pack around 30 and it makes a huge difference, especially in static. You can learn to relax even with the extra pressure, but this takes time and training. You simply must re-learn that phase of your performance. I pack to my max in about 10-15 seconds, so once you master the technique, it really is not much of an effort. I never measured my own volumes, but some divers can pack up to 4 litres and 2-3 litres is not uncommon. So the difference in air volume is considerable.

However, you must understand that learing to put in 30 packs in stead of 3 will take time and practice. Only pack 1-2 max over your "comfort limit" at a time. Gradually it will increase, but if you proceed too fast, you will just injure your self.

Lately I've become more and more concerned with the health effects of packing. To me, it seems that even if I'm able to permanenlty increase my lung volume with this excercise, that can't be really healthy. What will my lungs look like in 20 or 30 years? Just huge sacks with no flexibility? So be careful there. I believe that packing a moderate amount can only do you good, but don't get carried away with "extreme packing". There are other and better ways to improve.

I would actually like to very much hear if someone has any insight in the long term effects of packing in ones health... (talking decades, not years).
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Hi jome,

Regarding contractions. I just started training with static tables, and was able to do the last 7 cycles of 2 minutes very comfortably but I did not want to push it since I am just starting. Could you describe what contractions feel like to you? and how do you know when to call it quits? My first 2 minute hold was somewhat difficult (as opposed to the other ones) but I could not tell if I was having contractions or not? I was feeling quite uncomfortable though.

(Sorry to hijack your thread jon but it is somewhat related to your last qeustion)
jome said:
I never measured my own volumes, but some divers can pack up to 4 litres and 2-3 litres is not uncommon. So the difference in air volume is considerable.
A few of us have taken part in a scientific study on packing, initial results have indicated that with packing our total lung capacity (TLC) increased by on average about 30%.

Size of lungs is generally correlated to height, ie. a taller person will have a bigger TLC.

In practice, other things being equal that should lead to a person with 6 Litre TLC (probably 6 foot or slightly shorter) get up to about 8L, or for me, I can do about 4min static with no packing, and a little over 5min with packing. A taller person with say an 8L TLC could potentially pack up to 10-11L or even more.

But of course, other things are not always equal or, as my high school economics teacher used to say - ceteris is not always parabus :D

It's pretty hard to describe my contractions. The first few are very subtle (and I don't actually count them as contractions), kind of like you trying to breathe with your mouth closed. As time progresses, they become more and more clear. The best description I can come up it is involuntary breathing motions of the diaphragm. Towards the end they're very strong and cleary visible to anyone watching me.

When to quit is also very very individual. I'm lucky enough that my breathing reflex works pretty good in that sense. I just stop when the urge to breathe becomes so strong, I cannot resist it. For some there's no such warning, and they have other "signs", such as changes in hearing or vision, losing clearness of thought etc. It's something you'll have to find your self. Just remember that diving alone conservatively is dangerous enough. "Finding your limit" without a buddy would be suicide. Just a warning...
Thanks for the advise jome

I am not trying to find my limits in the water and I have my brother nearby.