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Training advices for the spring

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New Member
Jul 30, 2003
Hi ! Now i have been away from the ocean for a long time (the winter is long here in Sweden =/ ).
I havent been training anything in the pool for a couple of months now , so i really need something to get me (my lungs)back in shape.
I have been doing some weightlifting the whole winter , and i have always been doing it even before i went to practise freediving.
And now i have gained some weight , and are stronger then ever , but i have experienced that bigger muscles consumes more oxygen when i freedive (maybe it is imagination?), it feels that way anyway :duh .
Does any of you guys have any advices how i should get my lungs in shape , not just my muscles.... the spring is soon here and i really really wanna go down when i get the opportunity to do so.
Usually i go to the pool a couple of times every week , but i always play around under the water and do not follow any special training-routine.
Please i would love to have some advices!

Dark&Cold: I have wondered the same thing about more muscle consuming more O2. Especially this year when I am trying to build a little more muscle. I had a bad experience last year with too much cardio hurting my performance early in the season, and want to try a different approach this year. I am under the impression that the more blood volume you have, the more O2 you can store. And am also thinking that the more muscle you have, the more blood volume. Unless you call that muscle into action, I'm hoping the O2 consumption of the extra muscle won't be activated. I wish some of the physiology experts here on the forum would chime in with input on this subject. It would have been great if the "Static Poll" was accompanied with weight & height info, to try and arrive at a relationship between blood volume and apnea performance.

Sorry I can't offer any input to your original inquiry.

Take care,

hope someone knows

Maybe i should have had another name on this subject because , the thing with muscle-volume and oxygen levels are really intresting!
I dived last winter with a lesser body-weight , and had better results in all my pool-training .
This year i have a heavier and more muscular body, and i have had poor results so far.
I can say to my defense that i havent practiced much this season, but i cant remind me of the feeling of consumig air much faster last season.
One reason is that i eat much more theese days , i have experienced that my apnea works much better on a empty stomach .
But thats not that weird , a stomach full of food will consume some oxygen to digest.
But the main problem is the feeling of my muscles consuming o2, in higher levels this year.
By the way my weight is 108 kg:s and im 1.89 meters tall, i have been doing weightlifting almost my whole life and i had plans of competing when i was younger.
Some years ago i really went into freediving, and now i have began to lift weights more seriously again , and i hope that my weightlifting routine not will disturb my apnea training that much.... hopefully im wrong about this theory , i hope someone will prove me wrong :)

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Bigger muscles = more blood volume. Under normal conditions, bigger muscles = more O2 consumption. However, it doesn't have to be that way. I believe that big muscles can be an advantage IF a very strong blood shift occurs and the muscles are extremely relaxed. However, I think most people will not get into that state, and will feel that big muscles shorten their breath-holds.

For example, Pipin (at least in his peak) had huge legs. But, on the very deep no-limits dives, all the blood in his legs would get sucked into his core, giving him a large extra supply of oxygen.

So, in theory, people with bigger muscles would benefit from lung flexibility training, so that they can begin their session with severe negative pressure dives (dangerous!) After the severe negative dives, most of the blood should shift into the core. Further, the muscles would need to be relaxed by doing isometrics such as chi-gong, along with relaxation exercises, stretching program, and perhaps a massage.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
I have a similar problem, having been involved with weightlifting for ages. My bodyweight is around 106-112kg depending on how hard I am training at any given time and I feel that the extra muscle definitely hampers my freediving.

For example, I can do a static for twice as long as my wife can but as soon as we start doing something like dynamics, she can match me easily. The more muscle mass I bring into play, the quicker I am out of breath. I have a feeling that I may be able to do a longer dynamic without fins if I used only my arms, even if I was moving a lot slower. I’ll give that a try next time I am the pool and see if I am right.

It’s an awkward situation when you think about it. If I eventually get maxed out at a certain depth or distance, could I extend it by losing 10kg of muscle?

BTW Jim – how did you find that doing a lot of cardio didn’t help your freediving? Was it an overtraining issue?

Well Ash, during the off season through fall and winter, I increased my 3 runs a week from 10km to 15km each. When April came, I believe I had developed too many mitochondia, as they will replicate when they grow too large. I think this accelerated the O2 metabolism. For the first month or more of the diving season I would samba easily and frequently. Normally, during the diving season (and mowing season, 3 acres), I'm lucky to get the time for 1 or 2 runs a week, as I would never run the day before a dive. However, this was the transition of the seasons, and I was still running close to 30 miles per week while diving. As we entered summer and the running tapered off drastically, the symptoms dissapeared entirely. I did not associate the two events immediately, and was making wild speculations as to the cause. Although I could still be wrong, at this point I'm convinced my body was greatly conditioned to uptake and metabolize O2, not to mention my bp was extremely low. I started making it a point to "hook-breath" upon first surfacing also.

Each year has been a learning experience, but what seemed to make the most drastic improvement, I noticed on the last dive of the year in October. I had been apnea walking every night for a week or so. This does not seem terribly long, although I practiced statics. But this dive I mentioned was the absolutely best day I have ever had as far as bottom time is concerned, and by a longshot. I experienced bottom times in excess of 3 minutes comfortably, on many dives that day. I will certainly be incorporating some form of apnea walking/leg training soon, in time for the new season. I'm unsure if I'll ever stumble onto the best combination of training for performance, but I am certain it will take years of attempts.

Sorry for the long post, and I hope it answered your question.

Jim U.
Normally, during the diving season (and mowing season, 3 acres), I'm lucky to get the time for 1 or 2 runs a week
Maybe it's time to look into a bigger mower... maybe a swather. :)
Originally posted by Jersey Jim
Sorry for the long post, and I hope it answered your question.
Jim U.

Thanks Jim, I see what you meant when you said you did a lot of cardio:)

I wonder if your low BP had more to do with the sambas than anything else? Yet another question for Eric Fattah I suppose....

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Jersey Jim's post is another invaluable addition to the deeperblue 'archive' of personal or anecdotal training evidence.

More and more, because of this forum, we are starting to see patterns emerge. Even though for each individual, the patterns (and conclusions) are somewhat 'weak' or unscientific, when each person seems to report similar patterns and similar conclusions, it generates strong evidence.

Some of us have been searching for the 'ideal' training methods for years. Many of us worked in the dark for ages, but now, finally, it seems that our combined knowledge may lead to real and true facts, and this is going to happen very soon (and is already happening).

The old ways are dying. The oldest and most common method of training was to do lots of hard cardio. Many champions claimed that simple hard cardio was a great key in their success. What was never revealed was that those same champions were (and are) very susceptible to hypocapnic blackouts (i.e. blacking out while packing). I myself once was a part of that group.

Certainly cardio can improve performance, but more and more it seems that there are better ways. When I was among the 'hard cardio' group, the first thing I found was that very intense short intervals produced far better results than 'steady-state' cardio. That was the tip of the iceberg.

Apnea walking, for example, has received nothing but praise since it first popped up on this forum. I haven't heard a single negative comment or effect reported from it; yet, countless members report immense benefits, sometimes inhuman benefits--like Bevan Dewar's sudden ability to do 7'30" statics after inhale apnea walks -- one of the few cases I have ever heard of dramatic improvements in static without actually practicing static.

More and more it seems that the bulk of training should be done while holding the breath, whether it be in the water or on dry land (is this really surprising?). Yet, under that principle, training becomes mainly anaerobic, and traditional sports coaches will be quick to point out the tremendous stress that anaerobic training causes to the body -- so, if a diver does hold his breath during most or all of his training, he must be careful not to overtrain.

Sebastien Murat has often commented that divers who train on an inhale would benefit the most by maxxing out each apnea. This concept would favour five or six max dynamics with long recoveries, rather than the common pattern of 16x50m dynamics with short recoveries. Using the concept of specificity, it seems that your recovery time between apnea sets in training should match your planned recovery in real life. If you spearfish and want to dive with only 60 second recoveries, then perhaps you should model your training after that. If you are a competition diver who will spend 8 minutes resting before the dive, then perhaps you should model your training after that.

Rene Potvin from the freedivelist reported inhuman results after four months of commercial spearfishing, diving for 5+ hours per day. He did no other training. His average dive time increased from 1'30" to more than 3'00", and these are active dives, not hangs, and those dives were done with relatively short intervals (around 60-90 seconds).

It seems obvious that the most specific of all exercises is to do precisely the activity you are training for -- i.e., dive to train for diving. It is important never to lose that idea -- some people may actually have the time & access to dive every day as training. For the rest of us, all we can do is try to model our training to be as specific as possible to what we are training for. So far, apnea walking, as well as certain gym exercises such as apnea stairmaster, have shown tremendous promise. At the same time, 'steady-state' cardio shows more and more problems, including greater oxygen consumption, higher metabolic rate, lower blood pressure (and thus susceptibility to all sorts of blackouts). If one insists on breathing during the training, then intervals seem to be the way to go.

Sebastien Murat himself reported that his blood hematocrit would never go over 50% as long as he kept 'breathing' cardio in his training program. When he removed 'breathing' exercises and all exercises involved apnea, then his hematocrit soared to 63%. It is no surprise that the various sports organizations (especially cycling) put a cap of 50% on the hematocrit -- any more implies blood doping -- to them. After all, such athletes BREATHE during their training, and it has been shown that athletes who BREATHE during their training rarely, if ever, get a hematocrit of over 50%, because it is simply counterproductive -- the blood becomes to thick to pump quickly. For freediving, however, there is no need to pump the blood very rapidly, so thicker blood provides advantages, as is seen in seals, whales and penguins. They also have hematocrits of 58-64%, they don't blood dope, and they don't breathe during their training.

Keep the info coming.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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Interesting observations Eric. What would be a happy medium if you wanted to do well in two separate areas?

I play underwater hockey in the winter and freedive/spearfish once the ice is gone. It would seem to me that one type of training for hockey (16x50) wouldn’t do the same thing as freediving/spearfishing training (6 dynamics to max). Is one better than the other, or should one just switch gears with the seasons?

Don and Bevan, can you give a quick run down of how you two do your apnea walks? I do mine by sitting for a minute, while holding my breath, and then getting up to walk as far as possible. I, then, walk back to my start point where I breath-up for another minute and start the process over again. Do you wait until first contraction, go by a set amount of time, or just start walking as soon as you take your last breath?

I have practiced apnea push-ups in the past, but wonder how effective they really are for Freediving. Wouldn’t apnea pull-ups make more sense- since it would be more like free-immersion? I just don’t remember the last time I need to do a push-up underwater. On the other hand, is it just the fact that your body is doing anything in a state of apnea that makes the difference in performance?

This is weird. I was thinking just a few days ago that I should start doing apnea pull-ups. I think that it would be good simulation for dynamic w/o fins, for one (according to CEnglebrecht's list, I could have placed in the top 5 last year -- almost enough to make me an AIDA fan).

My concern is that blacking out could result in some pretty nasty injuries. My proposed solution is to use a harness designed for bow-hunting in trees in order to keep me from smashing my face in the event of a black-out. Since it has had it's fair share of wear and tear over the years there's no point in hastening the process.
very interesting thread.
Jon, my very unscientific apnea walking involves 2:00 walking with 1:15 gentle recovery breathing between walks. walk to 80 contractions(1:50-2:10 depending on how brave i'm feeling). repeat x 8

they work wonders for static but i'm wondering if they help for c.w? i'm having success(i think) with a new, very gentle breathup before dives, and i've got a feeling that having high co2 tolerance allows me to dive acidic with less discomfort. but i'm guessing in the dark really. cheers

During your 1'15" apnea walk recoveries, are you walking or standing still -- same question to others (Jersey etc.) -- walk or stand still during the recovery?

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
So far mine have consisted of a 1 minute breath-up, while sitting, followed by a 1 minute static, and then I get up and start walking around the house, up and down stairs ect, for another minute+. I then end, my walk backs at the same chair I started at and do another one minute breath-up.

In the past, I would do this in a field where I would do my recovery and static while standing. Now, I am somewhat house bound, but doing laps around the house is so convenient that I can't "not" do them. I am not sure how much it will help, but it "feels" to me like I am accomplishing something.

We'll have to see in a couple of months if I get the same kind of jump that other's have in their numbers.

Mind you I haven't done the apnea walking since October, but I left off with a few minutes recovery while standing or sitting on outside steps, full inhale, then immediately walking briskly for 600'. Then repeat with several minutes deep breathing recovery.

Eric, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned single inhale statics for 1:30. (Maybe that was on another thread)That's all I did last year on the 20-25 minute ride home from work. 1 inhale, 90 seconds apnea, 1 inhale, etc. This can seem to go on indefinitely, but maybe I'm wrong. I manage to get in 15 or so cycles on the drive home. Hopefully, when I start them back up in a couple of weeks they will be 1:35-1:40.

Keep it coming,

Jim U.
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I've just started doing apnea walks again and I've been experimenting with doing the recoveries both while walking and standing still.

Doing them while walking makes me feel like I am having more of an overall cardio workout but I suppose that's not really the point of the session. So I am now doing my recoveries standing still or even sitting down because when I dive, my recoveries are generally very relaxed and trying to match the training to the diving seems to make a lot of sense.

My times are slowly improving. I try hold my breath for 1:10 – 1:15, with a recovery of 1:30 –2:00. I’ll keep extending the breath hold phase while keeping the recoveries constant.

Hi all,

Several descriptions of apnea walking include a period of breath hold before starting the walk, Why?

I try to model my walks as close to my diving as possible, walk while breathing up, stop and purge 4 times, apnea walk, breath and keep walking slowly, repeat 5 times. seems to help. Any suggestions for improvement?

A very interesting thread. Many thanks to Eric F for his sharing his analysis with us.

Here's another question about apnea walking - how much is too much?

I know only too well how badly overtraining can affect me if I do too much cardio or weights without adequate rest, so what would be a reasonable training regime for apnea walking?

I don't have any worries about my diet, which is quite sound for a vegetarian and I supplement heavily with very high quality vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants so I think I am in a position to push quite hard but I am not sure if apnea walking every day would be too much.

Thanks in advance

ya, i also wonder how much is too much. i do the walks every second day, with O2 empty lung tables the in between(stoped the empty lung walking cause i was falling over a lot and spraining fingers and wrists). also with good nutrition and rest.
Eric, the recoveries are standing still.
funny thing is the 2:00 walking times have not gotten much longer or easier than when i started with them last march, and i dont think my static times have improved since aprill/may last year(though i havent been practicing), but i'm doing dynamic without fins distances now that i was doing with fins that time last year??? dont think i'll ever fully understand this strange sport of ours.
yet another very interesting discussion.

Let me put in my observations:

Big Muscles O2 consumption:

I got 75-78 kilos on 197cm bodylength, so rather the slim type.
In my training community most of the guys do better dynamic with fins as well as constant weight than me. But in static i seem to have better conditions. Interestingly my Dyn without fins is the same level like our top-shots. My guess is: small muscles have to produce more energy per muscle weight, and so are tired faster/use more oxygen. In dyn no fins simply my 2m "wings" (arms) come very handy to push forward only 75 kgs with a good streamline.

Apnea walk:

I often do apnea walks:

Breathing 2mins inhale, walk to first contractions. put a mark on the floor. breath while walking slowly back to start. breathing 2 mins, apnea walk till 3rd contration. breath while walk back.
And so on and so on, always setting the mark several meters further.
Breathing and relaxtations always standing, because sometimes i get near samba/bo, when standing up.

When in good shape, the exercice can be made tougher with these wheights around the ankle.

Indoor version with stairs:

Apnea walk down stairs, and still breatholding up the stairs again. This exercise is interesting beacause it simulates constant weights with the "easy" down-dive, and the harder way up.

Notice: Stairs might be very dangerous in case of LMC/BO, if you fall !

As well this exercise can be done with ankleweights.


Questions to the nutrition post: you mentionend "anti-oxidants". What you mean by that ? , what do they do ? in what plants can they be found ?

cheers for replies

deepest greetings

Daniel Wieser
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