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Under Water Confidence Training

Discussion in 'Freediving Training & Techniques' started by dfriedman, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. dfriedman

    dfriedman New Member

    Good day to all of you.

    I've joined deeper blue to learn more from the half man- half fish. Currently, my team and I are in a very intense pre-scuba training program that prepares us for combat dive school. The only air you get the first five weeks is the one you get from the air into your lungs. Most of our water confidence training is dynamic apnea (if you will). Some of the water con task's we have to do are:
    1. An initial 50M underwater.
    2. 25M Underwaters. Swim back as soon as possible and rest for 30 seconds. We'll do 6-8.
    3. Drown proofing. It requires hands and feet tied and you have to bob, float, travel (up to 100M), conduct flips-forward and backwards, and mask recovery with teeth in a 12 ft pool (I hate it. It's so long and it's my worst event.)
    4. 25 Mask and Snorkel recovery.
    5. Buddy breathing with full harassment (this is really not fun at all).
    6. Ditch and Dons of full equipment (deep end).
    7. Knot tying (up to three in the deep end).
    These are just a few of the events (if you want to read and see some videos of the mentioned events go to www.specialtactics.com).

    I read how to prepare for a breath-hold and some tips to persevere the physical and psychological hurdles. I tried my first breath-hold. 3:31 was the result. I was so dizzy and I nearly pissed myself. The next day I started on the O2 and CO2 tables and threw in a little dynamic running apnea.

    OK...that's all I got! Now I need to hear from the pro's--what are your recommendations that will help me increase my breath hold during these events. Remember, we get very little rest and we're usually tired. Thanks.

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2007
  2. covert

    covert Aquatic Assassin

    Yikes is all I can say. That doesnt sound like fun at all. The irony is that besides training and being fit. And you doing Special Forces I have to assume you are super fit. What what I have read / learned and experianced. The trick to breath holding is totally depended on your frame of mind.

    Holding your breath is mostly a mental game and being totally relaxed. Something im sure your instructors dont let you get much off. Man you have my sympathy ... if that helps :D

    Ok im just joking with you someone will give you some real advise soon

    rofl rofl rofl
  3. efattah

    efattah Well-Known Member

    Here is one trick:
    - If you learn to pack your lungs, with time (and careful, gradual progression), you can pack enough air that your chin will remain above the surface of the water, even WITHOUT doing ANY kicking or treading water. In that position, you can relax, wait for the urge to breathe, then exhale rapidly, (and if your hands and legs are tied), do a dramatic dolphin kick as you suck another breath, lean on your back, keep packing your lungs. You should get by with about one breath every 45 seconds. Of course if you are flexible and can pull your tied hands below your ankles and get your tied hands in front of you, then you can motor through the water with a dolphin kick.

    With help from people on the forums, you should breeze through all those tasks like a joke.
  4. dfriedman

    dfriedman New Member

    1. Packing your lungs? What is that and how do you do that safely?

    2. When holding your breath-do you recommend to hyperventilate (4 times) then breath all the way out and then take a nice deep breath (I read this somewhere) before going under?

    3 Does wine or caffeine have a negative effect on breath hold?

    I figured since you answered me I'm gonna fire all sorts of thoughts/concerns.

    Covert--thanks for your sympathy. And yes we train all day long. So we've got the fitness part down--now we need the knowledge to conquer our fears and weakness of the water or should I say lack of air.

  5. rslomkow

    rslomkow Another Lost Soul

    1) Packing your lungs is over-inhaling. If you are not Scuba diving or doing it too often it is not too dangerous (*maybe* somebody will correct me)

    a) breath in full to using the diaphram (belly breathing)
    b) keep breathing in filling the chest
    c) use a fast inhale
    c) repeat (1 or 2 times is probably safe)

    you may find it easier if you roll your shoulders back or you lean bend backwards a little while doing the inhalation. If you keep doing it for too long you waste more o2 than you gain. My understanding here is the if you over-force yourself you can strain your lung and you have no nerves so you won't feel it.

    2) most modern freedivers do not advocate hyperventilating. The problem is that you can actually reduce your O2 capacity in your bloodstream. You do increase your CO2 tolerance because you empty your lungs and have less urge to breath. training breath-holds aka tables can increase your C02 tolerance in general without doing the hyperventilate. Most people do find 3-4 deep breaths do help with increased oxygenation of the blood.

    3) caffiene absolutely reduces your breath holding time. It increases you pulse rate, every time your heart beats you consume a more oxygen. If you really want to stay down longer you have to lower your heart rate.

    I have heard the same for alcohol, I assume it is because it increase blood pressure.

    As covert mentions it is a mind game. You have to teach you body both how to relax and work at the same time, you have to relax all the muscles you are not using. Also a large part is psycological of learning when you really need air and when you body is just complaining. Practice helps, it lets you know your limits and extend them.

    Good luck!
  6. efattah

    efattah Well-Known Member

    1. Packing your lungs? What is that and how do you do that safely?

    2. When holding your breath-do you recommend to hyperventilate (4 times) then breath all the way out and then take a nice deep breath (I read this somewhere) before going under?
    - Hyperventilating changes your comfort level while breath-holding. It has only a small effect on the time at which you will black out. The ultimate limit to your breath-hold is the time at which you will blackout from lack of oxygen. The most important thing you can do to delay the time until the blackout is to remain motionless (100% relaxed) for as long as possible before taking your final breath. Not a single muscle should be exerted during the breathe-up phase. If, for example, you are supporting yourself on the edge of the pool while you rest & breathe before hand, your arm muscles will burn energy and reduce the time you can hold your breath. You may not be able or allowed to breathe/rest in the ideal position, but you must understand this concept. Ideally 8 minutes of total stillness is required for optimum performance, but 2 minutes is the minimum. I would breathe normally until the last 2 minutes, where you can start to breathe more deeply, but not aggressively. If you breathe too aggressively, your diaphragm and chest muscles will burn energy and you will start the breath-hold at a disadvantage.

    3 Does wine or caffeine have a negative effect on breath hold?
    Caffeine has generally a negative effect, but this negative effect can be manipulated by an expert, sometimes to his advantage (way too complicated at your level). Alcohol can have a positive effect if taken right before (just minutes before), otherwise the dehydration has generally a negative effect. Hydration is extremely important. Alcohol should never ever be taken before a deep dive in the ocean because it worsens the narcosis.

    Diet is important. You should wait at least 3 hours after eating, or 5 hours if the meal was a heavy one. Try drinking the juice of a couple of lemons mixed with water, an hour beforehand. If you find you are getting cold, take a tablespoon of Udo's Choice oil (a mixture of flax and medium chain triglycerides). Shivering will be very detrimental. Doing a few dry practice breath-holds on the deck, 15-20 minutes before, will greatly increase your comfort level.
  7. efattah

    efattah Well-Known Member

    Try drinking 500ml-800ml of gatorade an hour and a half before, possibly spiked with extra lemon juice. This will ensure better hydration.
  8. trux

    trux ~~~~~

    Most of the terms, as well as diverse techniques are explained in this tread: http://forums.deeperblue.net/beginner-freediving/64959-how-start-freediving.html.

    Packing is not without risks, but extrem situations may require extrem approaches. Besides Eric's website, you can read more about packing and its risks for example here:
    ImpulseAdventure - Freediving - Lung Squeeze
    freediving - squeeze

    Another good solution would be getting so fat that you won't sink anymore :D Or eating a lot of beans :D

    As for hyperventilation - that was discussed recently in several threads. Generally it is not advised, because it increases the risk of blackout, and because it suppresses the diving reflex, but again, assuming you will be in an extreme situation without having sufficient time for training, it may help you. Read more for example here:
  9. dfriedman

    dfriedman New Member

    Excellent info...to make sure I understand what hyperventilating is...they are short breaths in and out vice packing (mentioned above)?

    Here are some more questions we were all wondering about...

    4. I read somewhere that when your doing dynamic apnea (with or with out fins), if you blow a little air (CO2) out every 15 sec's, 30 sec's, or min (depends on how far your going), that it helps you stay longer and travel farther? Is that true?

    5. Is there anything you can take that helps your lung capacity or increases your tolerance to CO2. Or are there any tools you can train with (i.e. expand-a-lung).

    6. I've read some article that some divers try not to swallow during static or dynamic apnea training (Due to saliva). Why is that important--or is that just their preference?

    Learning slowly...

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2007
  10. trux

    trux ~~~~~

    Besides what Eric wrote, I 'd also insist on reading the links I posted and reading also about security and health risks of these techniques.

    And there is another important effect of both techniques that is being often ignored - they both negatively influence Diving Reflex (again read the mentioned links for more info on it). So at someone who is trying to learn freediving it may prevent the body from learning quick and strong DR. Although DR is more or less present almost at everybody, the time to kick in and its strength depend on training and the experience of the body with it - they are simply more pronounced at regular freedivers. If you learn using wrong techniques, your DR may never get strong enough.

    That's quite an interesting claim and I would like to hear more about it. Do you mean, Eric, reversing the effect by properly timing the drug application, using the consequent abstinence effect? Or do you mean using the high blood pressure caused by caffeine, while suppressing other negative effects (diuretic, heart rate, vasopressin suppression) somehow (with other drugs)?

    Yes, there are some positive effects, but again alcohol, just like caffeine suppresses vasopressin secretion, hence hindering Diving Reflex and therefore increasing O2 consumption. It also has dehydration effects. I am not quite sure what the combined result of those effects would be, and it also may very much differ under various conditions and also at each individual, but I am not at all sure that the final effect would be necessarily positive.

    I understand that we speak here about extreme situations and possibly life-threatening ones (if it is in real combat), so one has to consider even dangerous techniques and possibly even drugs, but I would probably rather suggest focusing on good psychological preparation, relaxation, training for maximizing the Diving Reflex and classical freediving training methods. The effect of drugs, and especially the extent of the effect is not always well predictable, and can mess up with natural reflexes and processes, or with the psychics quite negatively even if the physiological effect were positive.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2007
  11. dfriedman

    dfriedman New Member

    Most of our training requires extreme mind power. Our bodies are constantly tested and we find new limit's that we thought were completely impossible before. The water is a new frontier. I agree with you TRUX "on good psychological preparation, relaxation, training for maximizing the Diving Reflex and classical freediving training methods". Today, we were doing knot tying at the bottom of the pool. And I felt so good! I just stayed at the deep end forever. I started feeling the contractions and I welcomed them. I must of tied a thousand thoughts.

    TRUX & EFATTAH (Covert your welcomed too)...I greatly appreciate your valuable two cents...can you answer #'s 4, 5, & 6??? Thanks.

  12. efattah

    efattah Well-Known Member

    - Never blow air during breath-holds
    - Lung expansion devices are pretty useless. Packing is the only method which really increases the amount of air, but you must do it very carefully and not to excess, otherwise you can suffer permanent injuries as well as black-out due to pressure on the arteries (generally I don't recommend it for day to day diving)
    - Swallowing is fine, in fact it helps overcome the breathing reflex
  13. nostres

    nostres because stress is no good

    Dear Eric!

    I was reading Your recent posts about being motionless and other ways to increase apnea experience. I was using Your advice recently and just did my static PB few minutes ago (after being stuck for weeks) Feels great! It was also very easy, relaxed, no sweat at all

    Thank You for sharing Your knowledge
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2007
  14. Retrion

    Retrion 4:10 STA

    Hey guys I'm fairly new to freediving (started 2 weeks ago)

    And I am up to a 4 minute dry static. I got here from just doing a simple warm up and then holding for as long as i can. I'm now trying some training tables (started yesterday) is this the right direction to be going? what else could i do take increase my static time. (i have removed caffeine from my diet.)

  15. wet

    wet Freediver82 - water borne

    Eric, about swallowing, I agree, but note #6 below, perhaps the tachycardia reflex from occasional swallowing is not significant:

    Reflex bradycardia occurring in response to diving, nasopharyngeal
    stimulation and ocular pressure, and its modification by respiration
    and swallowing.
    Gandevia SC, McCloskey DI, Potter EK.

    1. Digital pressure applied to the eyes evokes reflex bradycardia in
    human subjects and anaesthetized dogs. The bradycardia is most
    pronounced when breathing stops. 3. Oculo-cardiac reflex bradycardia
    in the dog is reduced by central neural inspiratory activity and by
    the excitation of pulmonary afferents by inflation of the lungs. In
    human subjects it is reduced when inspiratory efforts are made against
    a closed glottis. 4. Nasopharyngeal stimulation with water evokes
    reflex bradycardia in the anaesthetized dog. This bradycardia is
    reduced by central neural inspiratory activity and by the excitation
    of pulmonary afferents by inflation of the lungs. 5. Bradycardia
    occurs in normal human subjects during immersion of the face in water
    ('diving'). This bradycardia is reduced when inspiratory efforts are
    made against a closed glottis. 6. SWALLOWING evokes transient
    tachycardia in human subjects. During diving or the application of
    ocular pressure, swallowing reduces the reflex bradycardia which these

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2007
  16. Retrion

    Retrion 4:10 STA

    hey nostres. where is the post about being motionless?
  17. covert

    covert Aquatic Assassin

    dfried good to see your underwater experience is getting better.

    4. Never blow air during a breathold.
    5 like mentioned above tools are useless. Packing is an option but i would recommend normal 02 and co2 tables, on this site somewhere there is a link to a great little program that will help you with that. I can mail it to you too.

    6. I prefer not to swallow, but that too is a "unnatural behavior" and needs to be trained. Till your comfortable with it. Since allot of people actually swallow air during breathold your actually wasting oxygen. But if you feel comfortable and relaxed holding your breath and swallowing i guess like effatah said it decreases the urge to breath which will relax you and make up for any loss of oxygen.

    I think its all about the ability to be completely relaxed while submersed no matter what the circumstances. IE tying knots, being tied up etc. Stay calm, think clearly, concentrate, and always keep safety as your number one priority.

    No point in keeping your breath so long that you never need to breath again. :)

    so i pretty much just plaguered effatah but what the hell its fun :D
  18. dfriedman

    dfriedman New Member


    I talked to my instructor today and supposedly when holding your breath there is significant CO2 build-up that can be release through the mouth by blowing out a significantly small amout of air ( like a very small puff ). What are your thoughts about that?

    Secondly, what is this scientific/medical explaination that wet just produced? Bottom line--does he agree or not when it come to swallowing in the water during dynamic apnea.

    Lastly, after our water session most of us have headaches. I'm assuming that doing our water con events are causing this. Right??? How can we prevent this?

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2007
  19. trux

    trux ~~~~~

    I am afraid he is not right. The absolute volume of CO2 in your lungs plays absolutely no role. It is the concentration of CO2, better told the PaCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) that is important, and that will not change at all by releasing some air, unless your instructor teaches you how to blow out only CO2, but keeping O2 (and N2) inside :) Releasing some air helps only psychologically. The excess CO2 pushes the body to exhale, so if you do it partially, you cheat the urge for a moment. On the other hand you only aggravate the hypoxia, because you exhale oxygen too, and you may fool so yourself into a quicker blackout.

    He tells swallowing activates tachycardia (faster heart rate)

    Like Eric and Wet told, it may have both negative and positive effects, but I'd tell if you have an urge to swallow, then do not fight it and swallow. If you do not have any, do not do it. Listen to your body and don't stress you with such unimportant details - the tension may have worse impact on your apnea than the swallowing.

    Again, most of questions you ask were discussed many times here, so you should definitely take your time and search the archive to get into the picture. Check out for example this thread:
    or simply enter headache into the search box in the menu above.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2007
  20. wet

    wet Freediver82 - water borne

    I agree with Trux regarding the swallow, I'd think it is not significant in your case, where other stressors (untieing knots, harassment, etc.) are involved.

    I mentioned it because the divers reflex slows the heart rate which conserves oxygen , and apparently swallowing (momentarily) raises the heart rate, though probably only a very small amount.