Joshua Chaffee
Joshua Chaffee

Oct 01. 4 mins

INCREASE YOUR FREEDIVING BREATH-HOLD BY TWO MINUTES IN JUST ONE MONTH

Interest in freediving is sweeping the world. If you are intrigued by the sport and you want to start holding your breath for longer, you are going to want to keep reading. Unfortunately, we haven’t all been blessed with genetics predisposed for freediving like certain ancient cultures. For most of us, effectively increasing your breath-hold when it comes to freediving is a bit more complicated.

There is an art to increasing your breath-hold, and, while I’m not making any promises, if you follow this guide for one month, you should see about a two-minute increase in your breath-hold. Of course, some people will excel and can see a more dramatic increase, while others may do worse and see an increase of slightly less than two minutes.

Below, you will find some helpful advice that will undoubtedly help you to hold your breath for longer, maybe even on your next freedive.

Warning: Avoid Making These Mistakes at All Costs

First things first, we need to cut out any bad habits you might have that are hindering your current breath-holds.

  • Stop smoking: Do you really think that you can drastically increase your breath-hold with smoke-damaged lungs? Quit smoking completely, and give your lungs time to heal.

  • Live a balanced life: This means eating well, getting enough sleep, avoiding unnecessary stress, and exercising regularly. If your body is lacking nutrition or sleep, it will simply not give you a top-notch performance. Also, stress can make it hard to relax during a breath-hold, which is very important. Implementing a regular workout routine is important, too. We will talk about what type of workouts are more beneficial for divers later in this article. Try yoga to improve your diving, as well. This could mean a total lifestyle-change for some people and could take months to implement, but the results will be worth your effort. You will find that your energy levels are higher, your mood is improved, and you can hold your breath for much longer.
  • Never hyperventilate: Children in a breath-holding competition often hyperventilate before clicking their stopwatch. This is because hyperventilating tricks your body into thinking it doesn’t need to breathe by reducing your CO2 levels. Unfortunately, your oxygen levels don’t actually increase significantly from hyperventilation. The result for freedivers typically ends in shallow-water blackouts, and in many instances, death. Why? Because without the natural response from your body due to rising CO2 levels, divers may believe that they have more oxygen than they really do, and upon ascent, blackout due to lack of oxygen. The safest and most effective way to hold your breath for longer is to breathe normally and train yourself to get used to the struggle related to high CO2 levels.

A Better Breath-Hold is Possible if You Relax

Your brain is responsible for about 20% of your body’s total oxygen consumption, and that number can increase or decrease depending on how you are using your mind during a breath-hold.

What does this mean?

It means that you need to be mentally (and physically) relaxed during your dives and training sessions.
Simon Trippe, an experienced spearo and spearfishing academy instructor in Australia, says “Relax. It took me fifteen years to understand what that word meant. Relax. It’s the key. That’s probably my best advice: relax”

See how many times he said the word “relax”? Repetition for emphasis. Meditate, distract yourself with simple math or counting, do anything you can to keep your mind off of your need to breathe. Over time, you will become more comfortable under the water and relaxation will come more naturally.

Increase Your Surface Time After Each Dive

When you love something, it’s hard to stay away. The same goes when you come up from a dive and you take a breath of air. You want to go back down, and, if you dive without a dive watch, there is a good chance you are drastically over-estimating how much time you are spending at the surface.

A good rule of thumb is to spend three times longer on the surface than you do underwater. This is so your body has a chance to replenish its oxygen stores before your next dive. It can help you stay under for longer and even prevent blackout.

Depth and longer breath-holds will come with practice, and increasing your surface time after each dive will help you get there.

How to Train: Hold Your Breath For Longer in 3 steps

Now, let’s get down to the training course.

There is no easy way to increase your breath-hold by two minutes in just one month, but if you are dedicated, you can do it.

First:

The first step is to measure your dry breath-hold right now. How could you possibly know how much you’ve improved if you didn’t know where you started from?

  1. Sit upright in a comfortable chair
  2. Breathe normally for two minutes. No deeper than usual
  3. Take a deep breath in then exhale it completely (and I mean completely)
  4. Take another deep breath; as deep as you can. (If your shoulders rise when you take in this breath, you are probably doing it wrong. Make use of the full volume of your lungs by breathing in from the diaphragm. Try to imagine your lungs filling up from the bottom first. Your belly should go up and down, rather than your shoulders.)
  5. Hold your breath for as long as you can. Relax and focus on other things rather than your need to breathe.
  6. When you finally breathe again, deeply inhale to recover. Recovery is about inhalation, not exhalation.
  7. Finally, record your time in a log that you can look back at later.

This will be your starting point, and hopefully, after one month of practice, you can add two minutes to that time.

Second:

The second step is to learn how to perform a proper static breath hold. This begins with your mental and physical preparation. Completely relax your mind and body. All of your muscles should be fully relaxed because any muscle being used is stealing your oxygen.

Then, prepare for your breath-hold by taking in a normal breath, and exhaling it completely. After every last bit of the air is gone from your lungs, make a full-capacity inhalation and hold.

During the breath-hold, it is important to hold onto all of the air. Don’t let any of it go until you plan on breathing again. Losing that air means losing oxygen, and you need every bit of it.

Stop the air in the throat, not with the lips. You should be able to open your mouth while you are holding your breath.

Third:

The third step is the training itself.

You should be practicing your breath-holds using O2 and CO2 tables. If you don’t know what these are, you can learn more about them here.

For the first two weeks of training, practice your cO2 tables every other day. Then, for the next two weeks, practice your O2 tables every single day. Try to set aside about an hour for these tables. When you design your tables, make sure it feels challenging. Increase the difficulty as you can every day.

The next part of your training is to do physical aerobic and anaerobic exercise multiple times a week (3-4 times a week is good).

Anaerobic exercise is the most important type for freedivers. This is because it literally means “without-air.” Sound familiar? Anaerobic exercise involves short bursts of activity that is intense to the point that you feel the need to gasp for air. Your muscles burn so much oxygen that you cannot breathe enough to fuel them.

As you train, your body will become more efficient in its use of oxygen and will be able to better regulate itself when it is deprived of it.

How to Hold Your Breath Longer in Just 30 Days

If you followed the suggestions above, or you have more suggestions of your own, feel free to leave a comment below! We’d love to hear about your progress.

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