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Weight Lifting For Freediving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Dairyland diver
Apr 7, 2001
While not getting on the topic of supplements, I was wondering what type of weight lifiting programs people were incorperating into their freediving workout routines.

The two main methods that I know of consist of either high repitition super sets of 80-100 reps while breathing, or lifting weights in a state of apnea.

Are there any other methods that I am missing that would be highly benifical? How many days a week are you lifting? What exercises are you doing and how are you dividing your muscle groups up into different days?

I am intersted in this only as it pertains to freediving. I have no intention of bodybuilding, especially if it would impede my freediving skills.


Proper breathing

I'm no freediving champion, but I understand exercise physiology. Here's my two cents - take it or leave it.

I appreciate the desire to get the most apnea training one can, but I'd seriously recommend against doing it while weight lifting, even if you are using light weights.

Doing super sets of 20 -30 reps in very good form - full range of motion, slowly - will develop flexibility, tone, and a modicum of strength that will serve you well in any sport (other than body building, power lifting or playing lineman at Auburn). You can't concentrate on good form when you aren't breathing correctly. Use the weight lifting session to practice breathing very deeply between each rep - this will exercise your diaphram and stretch the rib cage - both will benefit your freediving - rather than using it to build CO2 tolerance.

To build CO2 tolerance, you can hold your breath for a specified period - for instance, 75% of your dry static max - then do squats (no weight) to failure (not to black-out though!). Do this 3X per week trying to extend the number of squats you can do or extend the period of apnea before the squats. Do these on a carpeted area away from things that could spit your head open if you fall. I do them next to a thickly padded couch so that I can hold the padded arm to steady myself.

Come to think of it, I've been working too much and getting pretty lax about my training and need to get back into it. Thanks for reminding me.
Yep, that's it

I agree with cjb. The routine he advises is the same as mine, though I'm not the greatest fan of apnea training fo no specific reasons other than personal opinion. The regimine works as does the diet.
Remember to breathe cjb. The work'l be there when you're done.

Re: Yep, that's it

Remember to breathe cjb. The work'l be there when you're done.

Thanks sven - got to maintain perspective. Consulting is competitive, and although the work will be there, I'm always afraid it will be someone else's project if I don't come through quickly.
Thanks for someone finally replying!!

I was almost thinking of posting a poll to see how people fall on this issue. These are two sperate schools of thought and I don't know that anyone has made a decsion aobut which is better. I guess that this is one more reason why I can see sperate Freediving Dojo's in the future- many differnet individual styles!

Cjborget, you doing super sets of 20-30? I am doing sets of 100. I am at muscle failure by time I am done. What adavantages could be gained by fewer reps, besides more weight lifted?

The times that I have tried the apnea weight lifiting have left me feeling good about my performance, but it takes soooo long to get a work out in. When I do my supersets of 100 I keep my heart rate up the whole time. It is almost like getting a weight and aerobic workout at the same time.

What kind of weight programs, and don't be afraid to be very specific, are others doing???

i started following this program a week ago with these modification on week 1,2, and 4 i do M-1.5 W-2 F-2.5 (Week 1-2) M-2.5 W-3 F-3.5 (week 4) all distances are in miles so convert if you need to (1 mile=1.6 km)
im doing this and the upper body strenght work out, im not following the swimming work out since i mountainbike instead, ontop of this i do a normal weight workout on tuesday thursday and saturday. i am also doing some mountain bike training on sunday and underwaterhockey on wednesday night,
for freedive specific training i go to the pool on saturday or sunday, depending on how hard i do weights,

my weight sessions consist of about 30 minutes of back work (from my physiotherapist, not really part of my work out), then do hamstrings, quads, pull ups, calves, bench press/chest press, biceps, lat pull downs, triceps, abs (machine), situps, leg lifts(on incline) and i finish with lunges, then i go cool down.

the first program i listed is to build my intensity back into my legs (the running part), i follow the upper body part to get enderance back into my muscles
at the gym i do 3 sets of 15-20 reps for everything but my back stuff and abs stuff.

if you need more details just email me thin_air2@hotmail.com
Different strokes

Cjborget, you doing super sets of 20-30? I am doing sets of 100. . . . It is almost like getting a weight and aerobic workout at the same time.

I think that is exactly what you are doing at sets of 100 . . . and if you go to 200, you'll get even more of an aerobic workout. There's nothing wrong with that; it is just a different purpose than the one for which I use weight lifting. For upper body aerobic work, I would rather swim; for legs, kick laps with resistance fins, or bike or run or play UWH. I do weights more to build strength than endurance . . . no, actually, at my age, let's not kid anyone - I ain't building nothin' - I'm just trying to slow the deterioration of muscle and tendon!

I also ride, use a starimaster, swim and play UWH once or twice a week. Weights are just a recent addition to what I like to do for a workout.
If I am doing such high reps at a low weight, but am burning by the end, am I wasting my time by not working to build more strength by doing less reps at a higher weight? I don't mean that I want to go to the extreme of body building or anything like that. I am only interested in improving my freediving performance.
I am just trying to maxamize my training time as much as possible.
One side benefit that I have noticed since I have added weights into my routine is that my pants fit looser compared to when I just did aerobic exercise all of the time.

I've got to think that the light weight/high rep routine is responsible for for my recent weight loss and increase in fitness.

I chucked 60 pounds, no kidding, and when lugging the gear and catch back to the truck from the beach, I was fairly running the trail that the year prior I was having to take in 50 yd trudges. My bottom times increased more as a matter of just being in the water, but it couldn't have hurt. When I went to heavier weights, my wind decreased and while I felt bulked, the end result was that my actual diving fitness was better'd by the low weight/high rep routine. With your other activities, the only thing maybe lagging might be diet. Keep it up!

Makes sense to me Sven.

I was out yesterday with a freind doing some shake-down scuba dives. He is way into powerlifiting- he could easily bench press me.:D Yet, I was the one who could make it back to the car faster carring my doubles, scooter and a stage , while he had to drop his tanks off first and go back for his stage- I helped him out with his scooter on my second trip back to the beach. ;)
I think that I'll just keep doing what I have been.

You also get to apperciate freediving a lot more after you drag around an bunch of tech diving crap for a day!:duh

If I am doing such high reps at a low weight, but am burning by the end, am I wasting my time by not working to build more strength by doing less reps at a higher weight?

I really don't know whether weight training will help freediving performance regardless of how it is done. But no, I don't think you are wasting your time; I just didn't think it was a good idea to try to do weight lifting apneic.

The reason is that I think concentration is so important in working the muscle and I would find that very difficult to do while holding my breath. It has much more to do with getting your mind inside the muscle than how many repetitions you do or what weight you use.

The weight is only a tool - it is just a way to help you focus on contracting the muscle. So I don't use weight lifting to build bulk - (although I did in a former life as a competitive BB) - but neither do I use it to build aerobic endurance per se. I use lifting to train muscles; i.e., to improve strength, flexibiligy and resilience.

You can use weight lifiing for many different purposes, e.g., aerobically or to build CO2 tolerance if you want, but I think there are other forms of training that are better for that. However, few forms of exercise train the muscle as well as weight training if it is done with great concentration and deliberate form.

But if what you are doing is working for you, I certainly am not going to argue with it. And please let me know if you think it makes a positive difference in your bottom times.

I would just caution to make sure you pay enough attention to good form that you don't damage joints and connective tissue - it is bad form more than the weight per se that does the damage, so don't assume that because you use light weights that you can't hurt yourself. The damage is insidious and does not necessarily show up immediately. But years later, you develop pain and stiffness in joints from having worn away cartilage, frayed tendons, and just generally having ground your poor joints to the nub.
Try This-

Everyone seems to be recommending high reps,but try this-Squats with a weight which enables you to get 20 reps (should be very hard work-gradually build up to this intensity over a few weeks though).Make sure you are breathing fairly heavily (from exercise bike for example) before you start the 20 rep work set.Take 2-5 very deep breaths between each rep,really expanding ribcage.After each set (remember there is only one hard set,the others are just warm ups) lay across a bench with a 15-20 pound dumbell and do deep breathing pullovers for 15-20 reps.
The combination of extremely deep breathing with a relatively heavy weight on the squats does strange things to the body-it forces the respiratory system to adapt in a very short period of time,the inclusion of pullovers adds greatly to this,enlarging the thoracic cavity.One other thing-this makes the body produce large amounts of hormones meaning it makes you bigger.
I would do this an absoloute maximum of twice a week (once is probably better) trying to increase the weight by 1 - 2.5 pounds whenever you get the full 20 reps.
..I was wondering, which kind of excercise would increase power in muscles with minimum increase in muscle mass?

For example, circus guys, aerobics, swimmers, etc. They need to have, and have, strong and flexible muscles but not such 'mass' like bodybuilders.

So,you want to get stronger without the mass? I can help you,this is my area- I'm into strength first and foremost.The first point is-you can't easily put much mass on without increasing your calories,but you can get stronger.However,the best way to the strength you want isto train with low reps/heavy weights.You see,the secret is tendon strength.Use rep ranges of 3-6 reps using good exercise form and putting the weight up when you get the desired reps.Reps in this range are best for increasing tendon strength,but work into it and be patient,tendons take a lot longer to adapt due to their density/low blood supply.Also a tendon injury takes months to heal.Do no more than 3 workouts a week,using the big compound exercises (the ones which allow you to use the most weight-squats,bench,rows etc.) the body works best using many muscles together.Only work each muscle once or twice a week,don't do too many exercises either-just concentrate on getting stronger on the few basics.Personally,I've done well on this kind of routine.At only around 155pounds bodyweight I can benchpress 269pounds, legpress 600pounds+,chin ups with 35 kilos around waist for 5 reps.I'm not showing off,just trying to show you that this kind of training does work.
Good luck mate. ;)
I like Ike

Oops, revealed my age (old campaign slogan).

Anyway, Ike is right on all points IMO. I strongly second his advice about proceeding slowly and using very good form.

The only thing I would add is to do some very light weight (3-5 lb / 1-2 kilo), specific exercises for the rotator cuff muscles a couple of times per week - you don't need to increase weight on these - they are just to maintain proper joint function as you increase strength, especially in the shoulder joint as it is quite vulnerable. If you don't, you may end up needing surgery later - take it from one who learned the hard way.

What exercises?: simple straight-arm raises done at several angles. Do them with arms together in front of you; slightly splayed forming a "V-shape" with your torso; to the side with thumbs up; to the back with thumbs up while lying on a bench facing down. Also do rotators where you hold your elbows out at shoulder height, bent at 90 degrees, and rotate the humerus against reisitance. Do these standing or lying face down on a bench.

Build up to 20-30 reps with a very light dumbell or therabands 2 or thee times each week. Do all of these slowly and with good form - they aren't difficult, but they do make your shoulders burn until you build up some endurance. If this is not perfectly clear, a physical therapist could show you the exercises in five minutes. They are used to rehab after shoulder surgery, but are excellent for anyone lifting or throwing or swimming or playing tennis - any overhand sport. I'll try to find a book that illustrates and will post back if I find one.
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