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Very early contractions in STA despite good (?) relaxation

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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flapjack octopus

New Member
Aug 16, 2022
TL;DR despite some extensive experience and some decent performance (CWT34, DYN 60, STA 3'44) and, I believe but maybe I am wrong, good breathing technique and relaxation, my STA holds are inconsistent and I get very early (40-45s sometimes) contractions on dry holds. How to improve?
Long version: as a teen (more or less 14-18) I spent months at the sea in the summer. Without any training (and sometimes doing unsafe things) I learnt Frenzel equalisation, dived to 32 meters with bifins, 24 with no fins. Perhaps more importantly I developed a lot of confidence in the water. Most of my freediving was with just mask and snorkel. Sometimes I was also using freediving fins but no suite and no descent line.

Now it's about 20 years later. I am in the water much less but I seem to have retained my confidence. I can equalise hands free, did an apnea academy course and some proper freediving training (mostly working on free immersion). In that occasion I also did a 3.44 STA (in water) which felt like a great achievement as my previous best was 2.30. Still dived to about 30 mt in a few occasions which does not feel close to my limit quote for Frenzel. Same with FRC dive to 8mt.

This is not strictly related to the main qeustion, but I was trying to motivate why I think I have some experience and understanding of how my body reacts. Still I have never properly trained for freediving. I have now signed up for an AIDA 4 course and decided to do some CO2 tables (dry). It's not going well, today I was gettin fairly strong contractions at about 40-45. Couple of days ago I was in the water and did a 7mt plus hang of 2' 10". Perhaps I was starting to feel contractions, but nowhere near as annoying as the ones from today at 45 seconds. I know about mammalian dive response, but I seem to perform better in the water moving than on the dry perfectly relaxed.

It i s also possible that I overestimate my experience and level. After all what I am used to is breath holding in the water and going down. I've never been particularly strong at long holds and never trained them. I occasionally do much better holds on the dry and in the water but they are inconsistent. Perhaps I do better when swimming as it is easier to focus on something. Still, contractions at 45s seems a bit much...

Anyway, come half September I should be able to do 3'30" hold in the water with some confidence. Any tips on how to improve and train to get there are more than welcome :)
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