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weight training and freediving?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Apr 12, 2001
here's a quote from hamish:

It's more than likely that your body building history could give you an edge in freediving by increasing myoglobin and creatine stores. Combined with aerobic and apnoeic training, you're onto a winner I reckon.

Ok, Some background. I'm a former competitive bodybuilder, now into technical diving and wanting to branch into freediving, perhaps in static and dynamic apnea, and constant ballast.

IN scuba, weightlifting gives greater strength for handling heavy gear, plus the improved fitness aids in offgassing.

How could my weightlifting help with apnea & freediving and is there anything I need to be adding to it. I'm a "natural" bodybuilder and follow a high protein, "no white" diet.

This enquiring mind wants to know....

Dive safe
Brock - the key element to your weightlifting is going to be from sheer strength training to a training regimin that follows the axiom of "less weight, more reps" which will create supple, yet strong muscles.

I do a fair amount of weightlfting for freediving and the key is to develop a program that will utilize the specific muscles utilizied while freediving and adapting those muscles to work under load in a higher state of CO2.

I am about to get back into the gym for my weight training and recommend using the technique of "Apnea Weightlifting" to provide a base for the muscles to adapt in a controlled setting to the higher levels of CO2 in the body.

I typically will ventilate for 60 - 90 seconds with a breathing pattern of 12-14 breaths per minute. I will then hold my breath until the very first contraction - that is when I begin performing my reps until I cannot hold my breath any longer - once I lose control of my breath hold and exhale, that finishes that exercise and then I recover for 2-3 minutes - then repeat.

I have found that doing leg extensions, hamstring curls and calf raises while in this state has drastically improved my leg strength while in Apnea and also attunes my mind to what my body is feeling as I get towards the end of my dive. In addition, it still benefits me for the tank diving I am getting back into.

I just started on freediving and do weightlifting for 3 years now. I`m more the moderate kind of bodybuilder, but anyway there is the concern that more muscle will also naturally need more oxigen. Is that the case? I did not have that impression, but i don`t do apnoe long enough yet to know it. I enjoy the change of bodybuilding to apnoe and it`s never bad to be in shape in my opinion...

Ciao Joe

I have Large size muscles compared to my medium height. And my Bio teacher said my muscles would be a problem, because of the oxygen they would spend.

But it is just not a fact, I have a static of 5:35. On the other hand If the body is in full activity during a sprint, then it's a different matter. But still here you get more bang for the buck. because i'm able to dive with less effort to negative weight and then just sink.

It's a matter of reaching a point where you are comfertable i think.
Let's keep it in perspective too. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not a threat to break any world records. I certainly have goals in diving, but there are other things I want to do too. If body building is something you're really into, then do it and dive and enjoy. The biggest thing I would look at is cardio fitness and flexibility. These are things you can do with weight training. The stretches for the trunk make a big difference for freediving.

The traditional line of thinking is that those that are of lean builds should be better freedivers. But then look at Pipin. The guy's built like a linebacker and like him or not, he's done okay with the freediving thing.

If you do want to break a record or two, then it might be time to spend more time in the water and a little less time in the gym. ;)

Good point M-2...

I guess I should have clarifed my post by saying that by training, I meant to keep myself in a state of general fitness that is condusive to diving - both free and tank diving.
different approach

I am not a body builder by any stretch of the imaginiation.

I do lift to improve my fitness. The routine that I do is quite different from what Cliff does.

I do a series of negative pyramids. I start out at a light weight and proceed to do 100 reps of that exercise. I drop weight every 15- 20 reps as I go. By the end of the exercise I am using some silly looking amount of weight, because it is so small, and my muscles are SCREAMING and my heart rate is at 80-90% of max.

I split my workout into two days but only seem to have time to one set of 100 reps for each exercise- only so much time in a day.

I also warm up with 30 minutes on an eliptical machine doing 2 minutes of breathing follwed by 20-25 sec of apnea. At the end of the weight session I will jump back on the tread mill for another 20 minutes alternating between 5 minutes at 75% and 1 minute of 90%. This I do while breathing the whole while.

I did this routine all through out the fall and now I have switched to more of a pool routine. As summer draws closer I hope to be doing all of my "work-out" in the lake.:D

If I can get a spotter next fall, Ted??, I may try the apnea lifting that Cliff is doing.

Improving one-rep max with huge weights / low reps is the way to get the most creatine & ATP in your muscles. The creatine & ATP will act as free energy during your dive, thus sparing O2 and delaying lactic acid build up. If, however, you dive into the anaerobic zone, where your legs start to burn on the ascent, then you must also add some sort of low weight / high rep training to get used to the acid in the muscles.

Hyperventilating and then doing apnea reps will increase your myoglobin if you have enough iron stores, but this process is very, very slow.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
I learned the Apnea lifting from Pipin and it seemed to make a difference - at least for me it did.

My first 100 ft dive last year seemed like a piece of cake with the training I did to prep myself for it - the Apnea lifting I think was key along with the specialized pool sessions I was doing.

I know what you mean Jon about only so much time in a day to work out.

Wish I had more...

My opinion is that we can affect the performances only little ,maybe 20% but probably not that much, with specific muscle training and only that much if you begin in bad shape.

Example: If you take a newbie to make a static I belive everyone can improve from 60-150sec ,which maybe is normal, to breathhold times over 4min just by learning the right technics like breathing and relaxing.

Maybe technic can give a newbie 100% improvement compared to the maybe 20% the specific physic training can give.

Performance improvements for different aspects. My belief.. :hmm
1. Technic can give approx. 100% increase in performance.
2. Psycologic improvements maybe 35%
3. Physical training maybe 10-20%

I'm not saying that physical training is unnessesary but if a newbie want's to get most out in increased performance of the spended time for training he/she should concentrate at first on technic.

I have been training freediving since '97 and I still have so very very much to learn about technic and drills.

The physical training also improves technic so if we think that we gain for example 10% from a training method maybe 5% of the improvement was psycological or technical?? :confused:

If anyone has a physical training method that can increase the performance more than 15% no one will be happier than me to learn about it.

I hope that the human can find ways in the future to radically increase the apneic capacity by physical training but I don't belive in it.
Last edited:
Hey Peter....

I did not mean to imply that physical fitness was a replacement for technique and training. If thats what you thought, I aplogize.

I've seen really big guys who could not swim, and a couple wash out of cavern class because they thought they could bulldoze their way thru. So, for me, IN ADDITION to my fitmess training, there's lots of pool time coming up.

4 min static is my goal for spring/early summer. Any suggestions on how to get there?

Dive safe
Hello Brock!!

My brother is also a bodybuilder and he's a good freediver...

I only wanted to say what I said because many people struggle with physical training and forget that for example: a different breathing routine can give the 1min extra in static right away.

I recommend you to read the threads "Static PB'S" and "Static Challenge" on the forum, there are lots of tips for breathing ,relaxing and mental problems etc.

The search function is very good to if you want to know more about something special. Search for "dynamic" or "CW" or "constant weight" to learn more about the dive-related technics.

Good luck!
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