- One of the biggest limitations to freediving is your beath-hold, which is the amount of time you can hold your breath while underwater.
- There are ways to improve your breath-hold from breathing exercises to specific training.
- Dry apnea training, HIIT springs, air restriction devices and exhale stretches can improve your lung capacity and allow you to hold your breath for longer.
- Once you start breath-hold training, you will be able to enjoy longer and deeper freedives than ever before.
Freediving is an activity which allows you to dive under the sea and discover what lies just beneath the waves. It’s a sport that allows self-discovery and can help improve your physical and mental fitness. The only limitation on you while freediving is how long you can hold your breath. Every freediver wishes they could hold it for just a bit longer. Perhaps you want to drift around a bit more, or you’re hunting an elusive fish, or you just like pushing yourself to your physical limit. Some exercises can help you improve your breath-holding and make your lungs work more efficiently. Every person is different and can hold their breath for different amounts of time. Over time you will reach an apex for breath holding if you freedive regularly and train your body accordingly.
How To Find Out How Long You Can Hold Your Breath
To increase how long you can hold your breath, you must first understand how long you can currently hold your breath. Finding out your breath-holding time is fairly simple. First, you must either sit in a comfortable chair or lie on a bed, calmly breathe slowly for 2 minutes, no faster or slower than you usually would. After those two minutes of calm breathing:
- Take a deep inhale and then a deep exhale.
- Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as possible.
- While holding your breath, try to relax and think about other things to distract yourself.
- When you reach your breath-holding limit, exhale and see how long you have lasted.
- Take some nice deep exhales after you stop holding your breath to help yourself recover.
Once you’ve done this, see how long you have lasted, this is how long you can currently hold your breath. If you do regular breathing exercises, you can quickly improve this time. For example, if you lasted for around 1 minute 30 seconds this time, you can probably increase your breath-hold to around 4 minutes in just a month with enough regular training.
Dry Apnea Training
Dry apnea training is a breath-holding exercise that includes no movement and is done on land; this means you can do dry apnea training in the comfort of your home.
Dry apnea training should help you stay relaxed and enable your body to consume less oxygen, which will allow you to dive longer when you freedive. To see a change in your breath-holding ability, you should complete dry apnea training around 2 – 4 times weekly. You don’t need any supervision while doing dry apnea training as long as you take reasonable precautions.
Dry apnea training can help boost your CO2 tolerance, help your body deal better with low oxygen levels, handle diaphragm contradiction and build your mental fortitude. All these factors will enable you to hold your breath longer underwater.
Dry Apnea training is pretty simple to do. To do it, you should lie on the ground; you can lie anywhere, but a good yoga mat is a good place to lie down. Put on some relaxing music which isn’t too distracting; the music will help train your mind to look for distractions and not focus on discomfort. Get a timer with which to set a time that you want to hold your breath, be reasonable with this, and try to push your limit slowly. There’s no point in pushing your limit too fast, as this could hinder your progress.
Once you’ve got everything ready, you should do some standard pre-dive breath-ups; breath-ups are a diaphragmatic breathing cycle that will lower your heart rate and prepare your body. To do a breath-up, you must exhale for twice as long as you inhale for around 2 minutes. Once your breath-ups are done, exhale completely and empty your lungs, then do a big inhale and fill your lungs to around 95% full, don’t over-inhale as this will cause discomfort and break your relaxation.
Now press play on your music, start your timer and close your eyes. Picture yourself inside a relaxing underwater location; perhaps you’re in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or even some made-up underwater environment; it doesn’t matter where as long as you convince yourself. Immerse yourself inside this environment; imagine the water floating past your skin, the fish swimming past and the gentle sway of the ocean current.
When you start to feel contractions at around 1:20 – 1:50, lower your chin to your chest; this will increase comfort and enable you to deal with the contractions. Towards the end of your time, imagine yourself swimming to the surface. Once you open your eyes and finish holding your breath, inhale with 3 – 5 hook breaths.
Dry Apnea Steps
- Set up the right environment (Lay on the ground, get music, prepare timer)
- Pre-dive breath ups (Exhale twice as long as inhale for 2 minutes)
- Deep inhale, deep exhale, and final deep inhale.
- Put on music, start the timer and close your eyes.
- Imagine a relaxing underwater environment
- When you feel contractions lower your chin down to your chest
- As your timer ends, imagine yourself swimming back to the surface
- Inhale with 3 – 5 hook breaths to recover
Benefits of Dry Apnea Training
Dry Apnea is a very safe way to improve your breath hold. It is possible to blackout, but as you are lying down while you do it, you won’t hit your head as you do so. You can’t drown while doing it as it’s done on land. You can also do it on your own without a partner, which means you can do it at any time; this makes it a very accessible exercise for any freediver.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Another way to build endurance and train your lungs is to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is when you combine high-intensity cardio exercise with equal or longer periods of rest; for example, if you make a 30-second sprint, you can follow this up with a minute of walking. Repeat this ten times for a full HIIT workout. HIIT can improve your respiratory muscle strength, cardiometabolic healthy and cardiorespiratory fitness. HIIT can increase how long you can hold your breath and make you fitter.
Air Restriction Devices For Freediving
Another way to reliably increase how long you can hold your breath is to use air restriction devices. There are many on the market which can help train your muscles to give better, deeper breath-ups, boost vital capacity in the lungs and can let you have longer, deeper dives. Using an air restriction device is fairly simple. First, you must sit on a comfortable chair upright with your back straight and gently breathing to prepare your lungs. Then take a big inhale and put the air restriction device mouthpiece in your mouth. Exhale using the diaphragm and breathing muscles only; exhale as much as possible, but if you feel light-headed or in pain, stop. Now inhale to fill your lungs, and hold your breath at the top of the inhale for around 10 – 20 seconds. Then do it all again. Overall you should complete this cycle around 30 times as a whole, twice per day. Eventually, you will notice a significant difference in how long you’ll be able to hold your breath, don’t be surprised if you’ll notice changes in just a month.
Exhale Stretch Exercises
Exhale stretches are breathing exercises that can help you stretch your lung and improve your lung capacity, allowing you to hold your breath for longer. Exhale stretches can prepare your body for freedives and reduce injury risk.
The exhale sitting stretch is a popular stretch that can help stretch your diaphragm and increase your breath hold. First, you must sit in a comfortable position and inhale deeply, then exhale as much as possible while hunched over. Hold this position for a bit before straightening your back; this will stretch the diaphragm. Now return to the original hunched position and inhale. The idea is to hold the breath for as long as possible; the exact time ranges between people. Don’t push yourself too hard with this. Remember to return to the hunched position before inhaling, as doing otherwise could cause injury.
You can also do an exhale stretch while standing up, although you should be careful in case you black out. Standing stretches are very similar to sitting exhale stretches, the only major difference being your standing. To do a standing exhale stretch, you must stand with your legs apart and your hands on your knees. Relax your abdominal religion and do the same breathing exercise as the sitting stretch. Exhale at a slumped position and then move up before inhaling when you return to a slumped position. This exercise is all about stretching your diaphragm. Make sure to warm up before doing standing stretches.
Tips To Increase Your Freediving Breath-Hold
1 – Hold Your Beath At Home
Freedivers can do many breath-holding exercises while in the sea, many of which can prepare you mentally for holding your breath underwater. As a freediver, you might think that these exercises will help you more, but this isn’t strictly true. Many exercises at home are just as efficient at improving your breath holding, not to mention it is much more convenient. Training in a safe, comfortable location will enable you to train without distraction and eventually improve your capacity. It’s also often safer as there is no risk of blacking out and passing out underwater. Make sure to exercise while sitting down or with precautions to ensure you’re safe while exercising at home.
2 – Instructors & Coaches
Although you can do many breathing exercises independently, there are things that only coaches can teach you. Freediving instructors can help coach you and identify areas of improvement in your freediving and ways to improve your breath-holding limit. Their experience and wisdom can give you practical tips and tricks to increase your ability and make you a better diver. Their experience and wisdom can give you practical tips and tricks to increase your ability and make you a better diver. Regular sessions with instructors and coaches will give you access to many new breathing exercises and confirm you’re training optimally. With enough help, you’ll certainly be able to hold your breath for longer.
3 – Cardiovascular Fitness
HIIT is a cardiovascular exercise which can help increase the air volume your lungs can handle. All cardio exercises can help increase how long you can hold your breath by improving your lung efficiency. There are many cardio exercises, such as running, sprinting, cycling, and more. Cardio exercise has many health benefits and will help keep you fit and enable you to dive for longer.
4 – Yoga
When you’re underwater, relaxation is very important. The more relaxed you are, the less oxygen you need and the calmer you’ll breathe; thus, if you can be more relaxed, you’ll be able to dive longer. Yoga is one of the best ways to relax, and it promotes proper breathing techniques, which increase the flexibility of your muscles and lungs and can help train your mind to be more serene when underwater. Many professional freedivers use yoga to prepare themselves for dives. If you decide to incorporate yoga into your routine, be sure to regularly do it, as its benefits will increase fourfold over time.
Find Out Everything About Freediving
Regular training will eventually lead to you improving your breath-holding time. Some people can hold their breath for longer than others, so you might not be breaking records anytime soon, but you’ll still be able to hold your breath for long enough to explore the ocean for longer. If you’re interested in diving and want to take your freediving to the next level, you should be aware of Agulhas. Agulhas is our company that designs stylish, high-performance freediving gear to help you sustainably explore the ocean. Our gear is designed by freedivers for freedivers and will help improve your freediving experience. Our wetsuits are perfect for freedivers who want to explore the ocean without damaging it. Our homemade wetsuits are made of limestone neoprene which is environmentally friendly and offers great insulation, elongation and buoyancy. In the past, limestone wetsuits were considered expensive premium options out of the budget of most freedivers. Thanks to our business model, we can offer quality homemade limestone wetsuits at an affordable price compared to the average wetsuit. If you’re interested in learning more about freediving, look around our website, and if you’re interested in levelling up your freediving gear, check out our sustainable and stylish freediving equipment.
There are many ways that you can increase how long you can hold your breath. Try regular breathing exercises, cardio exercises and stretches to improve your breath-holding limit. Over time you’ll find you’ll be able to hold your breath for much longer than when you started.
Some freedivers can hold their breath for more than 10 minutes without snorkels, scuba gear or any breathing apparatus. Ten minutes is much longer than the average person, who can go around 30 seconds without exhaling. The record limit for a freediver holding their breath is 11:35 minutes by French freediver Stephane Mifsud.
Yes, the average person can train their body to hold their breath. You can improve your breath-holding time through regular breath training and other techniques.