- Freedivers use lead weights to achieve neutral buoyancy and offset the positive buoyancy of their wetsuit and body.
- Achieving neutral buoyancy makes it easier to freedive and allows you to dive much further.
- Putting on too many weights can weigh you down, limit your freediving range, and make diving harder. It can also make diving more expensive and dangerous.
- The weight needed to freedive depends on many factors, such as water type, body size and wetsuit thickness. There are calculations and tests that you can do to accurately determine how many weights you need to achieve neutral buoyancy.
- Weight belts are popular ways to carry these weights, although many other means, such as weight harnesses and neck weights, exist and might better suit your freediving style.
One of the most common questions new freedivers often have is, “How much weight do I need to have on while freediving?” This is a sensible question to ask as lead weights are fairly expensive, and you don’t want to buy more than you need. Weights make it easier for freedivers to ascend and descend, so it’s important for beginner freedivers especially to understand how much they need. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as every freediver needs different weights on them. Many factors affect the precise weight you’ll need while diving, such as the water type you’re diving in, body size and wetsuit thickness.
Why Do You Need Weights To Freedive?
Simply put, weights allow you to dive further and easier. They help freedivers achieve neutral buoyancy, which is when it is as easy to ascend and descend. Freedivers use the lead weights to offset the positive buoyancy of their bodies and wetsuits but must not put on too many weights, or they will have negative buoyancy and find it harder to ascend. Thus it is important to have the right amount of weight to achieve neutral buoyancy and optimise your freediving. The exact weight you need to freedive varies between circumstances. You’ll need to check how many weights you need for each new wetsuit you buy.
Why You Don’t Want To Have Too Much Weight
Having too many weights while freediving can be a serious issue. It can make it much harder to rest on the surface and do breath-ups properly before diving; this can significantly shorten your breath-holding time, which means you’ll have shorter, less fulfilling freedives. It is harder to breathe when you are wearing too many weights. It can also make descending dangerous. If you blackout while having too many weights on at or near the surface, you will sink; this can endanger you even when you are with another trained driver who is there to assist you, as the weights will make it harder for them to help you. Weights are also expensive, so you won’t want to spend more than you have to on weights, especially when too many weights make your freedives less optimised.
So What Is The Right Amount Of Weight?
As stated at the beginning, there is no universal amount of weight needed to freedive. Everyone needs different amounts depending on many different factors, such as:
- Your weight
- The depth you’re diving at
- Your Lung volume
- Your Height
- Water Density
- Wetsuit thickness.
All these factors affect exactly how much weight you need, although the most important factor is wetsuit thickness and your body size. Men are denser than women, so they need less weight. Men might not even need any weights, although they should check if they do before diving to be safe. Using wetsuit thickness as a starting point is the best way to figure out exactly how much weight you need. Wetsuit thickness is determined by water temperature. You need thinner wetsuits to freedive in warmer waters and thicker ones to dive in colder waters. Thus you’ll need more weight to dive in colder waters. Finding out the exact weight you’ll need is tricky, so the best way is to use freediving weight calculators and make minor adjustments to achieve neutral buoyancy.
Step 1 – Freediving Weight Calculator
There are many different freediving weight calculators online which claim to determine the exact amount of weights you need to freedive with; some even take into consideration the specific freediving equipment you use. These calculators can range from accurate to inaccurate, so you should only use them as a guideline and shouldn’t go freediving only having used the calculator. Instead, it would be best to use this as a starting point and then use the method spelt out below to discover the precise amount of weight you need. The basic calculation for how many weights you need is to multiply your wetsuit thickness mm by 1 kg (2.2lb), then add another 2kg if you’re lean or 2.5kg if larger. For example, if you use a 5mm wetsuit and have a lean build, you do the following sum: 5mm x 1kg + 2kg = 7kg Use the table below as an outline to help you figure out how many weights you’ll need based on your wetsuit thickness.
|Wetsuit Thickness||Leaner Build||Larger Build|
|1mm||3kg / 6.6lb||3.5kg / 7.7lb|
|3mm||5kg / 11lb||5.5kg / 12.1lb|
|5mm||7kg / 15.4lb||7.5kg / 16.5lb|
|7mm||9 kg / 19.8lb||9.5 kg / 20.9lb|
Step 2 – Freediving Weight Incremental Adjustments
Now that you know the rough amount of weights you need, you can start figuring out the exact amount. To do this, you must get into the water wearing your wetsuit. Flood your wetsuit and make sure there are no air bubbles trapped. Once this is done, inhale as deeply as possible, as if you were about to go diving. Without finning, sculling or treading with your hands, you should float up to around collarbone level if you are at neutral buoyancy with the current amount of weight. If the water is higher than your collarbone, you’ll need to remove lead weights, and if it is below the collarbone, you will need to add more. Add very small weight increments and see how it affects your buoyancy. Once the water is at your collarbone level, take a relaxed exhale and slowly allow the air out of your lungs. It’s important to make small incremental adjustments to determine the precise amount of weights you need. Use small measurements such as 0.5kg weights, which can help you figure out the amount you need best. Evenly distribute the weights around your body to allow for more streamlined freediving.
- In the water, while wearing your wetsuit.
- Flood your wetsuit and ensure there are no trapped air bubbles.
- Deep inhale.
- See if you can float at collarbone level without sculling, treading or finning. If you are too high, remove weights; if you are too low, add small incremental weights to adjust your weight.
- Once floating at collarbone level, slowly exhale.
How Often Should You Check Your Weight?
It can be a bit of a fuss to figure out the exact weight you need to achieve neutral buoyancy, but you’ll have to get used to it, as every freediver must do it frequently. You’ll need to perform these steps every time you get new freediving gear, freedive in a different body of water and whenever you gain or lose weight. You’ll even need to do this check now and then, even if there are no major changes, as your wetsuit will, over time, wear out. While it can seem like a needless fuss, it’s best to perform this simple check to ensure you’re safe and freediving with the optimal amount of weights.
The Perfect Amount Of Weight
Hopefully, the steps above will help you determine the weight you need to achieve neutral buoyancy. If you have successfully figured out the perfect amount of weights, you should be able to ascend and descend much easier and rest on the surface easily in between dives. You should be able to achieve neutral buoyancy at 10m/33 feet deep and be easier to save in case of blackouts near the surface.
Where To Store The Weight
Every freediver has their preferences as to where to store the weights. Different disciplines use different storage options. There are many places to store these weights; we’ve outlined three of the most common ways.
The most popular way to store your weights is with a weight belt. Weight belts are easy to use and very reliable. They don’t put an unnecessary strain on your body and are a very practical option. Make sure you buy a weight belt with a quick-release buckle that will allow you to ditch your weights quickly in an emergency. Quick-release buckles will also make it easier to remove the belt and carry it when you are experiencing issues on the ascent or while floating at the surface.
Should You Get A Rubber Or Nylon Belt
Weight belts generally come in two fabrics; rubber and nylon. Each has distinct pros and cons, and many freedivers prefer one over the enough. Neither is outright better than the other; ultimately, which is best comes down to personal preference. Still, before purchasing a belt, you should understand each option and the different benefits. The nylon belt is much stronger and more durable. Its durability means it can outlast the rubber belt and endure much harsher circumstances. It’s also cheaper to buy. However, the belt doesn’t stay in place too well, which can affect your weight distribution while freediving. Uneven weight distribution can affect your finning technique and make you much less mobile in the water. The rubber weight belt is more expensive and fragile but allows higher-performance dives. It stays in place while you descend better than the nylon belt, is stretchable, and maximises breath-ups, allowing you to inhale more air and enjoy longer, fruitful freedives. They’re also more comfortable and better for weight distribution.
Weight harnesses are another way to store your weight. These are better at protecting your back than the weight belts, especially at protecting the lumbar regions and can prevent pains in your hips and kidneys. The harness allows for better weight distribution than belts. Make sure to get a harness with a quick-release mechanism for emergencies.
Depending on your freediving discipline, you might want to have your weights around your neck. Neck weights are great weight distribution and are very efficient. Most divers use these in conjunction with freediving belts; however, some forego the belt and only use the neck weights, although this is rare. Neck weights require you to have strong neck muscles, so they can make diving harder; they are more cumbersome to use than either a harness or belt.
Everything About Freediving
Freediving with the correct weights can make your freedives longer and richer. Once you’ve used the steps outlined above to figure out how many weights are the right amount, you’ll be able to enjoy neutral buoyancy and be able to dive better. Be sure to constantly recheck how many weights you need, as this will change over time, and many factors will affect it. When going into a new ocean or buying a new wetsuit, quickly redo the tests; they don’t take too much time, and these checks help ensure you are freediving optimally and are safe. Finding the right belts or harnesses to carry weights in can be tricky. Belts come in both rubber and nylon variants, which each offer benefits. If you’re interested in finding the perfect freediving gear for your next dive, you should peruse our equipment. At Agulhas, we offer fantastic stylish freediving gear designed by professional freedivers to ensure you enjoy the best freedives possible. Our wetsuits are made using limestone neoprene, an environment-friendly alternative to wetsuits made of petrochemical substances. Limestone wetsuits have many great properties like insulation, buoyancy and waterproofing, making them ideal for exploring the ocean floor and remaining comfortable underwater. Our limestone wetsuits are a high-quality, affordable way to keep our oceans safe for future generations of freedivers to explore and enjoy. If you’re interested in learning more about freediving or are looking to find new, sustainable freediving equipment check out our website and take your freediving to the next level.
You need the same amount of weights for freediving and spearfishing. The weight you need depends on many factors, such as water density, body size and wetsuit thickness. The thicker the wetsuit, the more weight you’ll need for spearfishing.
You don’t need to be especially fit to freedive, as you can dive easily. By freediving, you will become more fit and flexible and thus be able to freedive for longer. If you want to be more fit before freediving, try yoga or cardio exercises which can help make you more flexible, which is good for freediving.
To prepare for freediving, you should practice breathing exercises, research freediving terminology and concentrate on how to stay relaxed. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before freediving to ensure you are fresh for the freedive.
Freedivers dive around 30 feet/10m deep. As a beginner, you are not expected to reach this level immediately. While it differs between freedivers, most beginner freedivers will go to a depth of around 13 feet/4m.
World-class freedivers generally have bigger lung capacities than the average person. The average person has a total lung capacity of around 6 litres, while some freediving champions, like Francisco Rodriguez, are said to have lung capacities of around 8 litres.