Apnea Training for Freediving

In freediving, apnea training is a bit different than what you may be used to if you’re coming from a background in competitive swimming or other sports. For freedivers, the goal is to learn how to hold your breath for long periods of time, so that you can stay underwater for extended periods without having to surface for air.

There are a few different methods that you can use to train for freediving, but one of the most popular is apnea training. This involves holding your breath for as long as possible, and then slowly exhaling and taking another breath. You can do this either in a pool or in open water.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re doing apnea training. First, it’s important to relax. This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you’re tense, your body will use up oxygen more quickly. Second, it’s important to breathe slowly and evenly. Taking deep breaths will use up oxygen more quickly than if you breathe shallowly and slowly. Finally, it’s important to focus on something else besides holding your breath. This could be a mantra or a certain object that you’re looking at. Focusing on something else will help take your mind off of the fact that you’re holding your breath, and it will help you to last longer underwater.

If you’re interested in giving apnea training a try, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, make sure that you are comfortable with the idea of holding your breath for long periods of time. If you’re not comfortable with this, it’s best to not try it. Second, make sure that you have someone with you who knows what they’re doing. This person can be a friend or a professional instructor. Finally, make sure that you practice in safe conditions and don’t push yourself too hard too fast – start with shorter breaths and build up from there over time.

What is Apnea?

Apnea is the suspension of breathing. Freediving is a form of breath-hold diving that relies on the strength and capacity of the human lungs to hold their breath for extended periods of time. Apnea training for freediving can help you increase your lung capacity and tolerance to CO2.

Types of Apnea

There are three types of apnea: central, obstructive, and mixed.

Central apnea is when the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles that control breathing. This type of apnea usually happens in premature babies and sometimes in adults during sleep. It can also be caused by having too much carbon dioxide in your blood or taking certain types of drugs.

Obstructive apnea is when something blocks the airway, making it hard to breathe. This is the most common type of apnea and is often caused by being overweight or by smoking. It can also be caused by sleeping on your back, which can make the tongue and soft palate fall back and block the airway.

Mixed apnea is a combination of central and obstructive apneas.

The Science of Apnea

In Greek, the word “apnea” means “without breath.” In freediving, we use it to describe the period of time beginning when we take our last breath and ending when we start breathing again.

During apnea, our body goes into a state of suspended animation. The heart rate slows, blood flow slows, and in some cases, brain activity stops entirely. This is an evolutionary defense mechanism that allows us to survive for short periods of time without oxygen.

In freediving, we train our bodies to extend the apnea period by learning to control our breath and heart rate. With practice, we can extend the duration of our apneas and safely explore the underwater world.

Training for Apnea

Apnea training can help you extend your breath hold and improve your freediving performance. As you train, your body adapts and becomes more efficient at using oxygen. This can help you stay underwater for longer periods of time and freedive to greater depths.

Breathing Techniques

There are a variety of breathing techniques that can be used to help you hold your breath for longer periods of time. Some of these techniques include:

  • Equal Breathing: This involves inhaling and exhaling at an even pace. For example, you would inhale for four counts and exhale for four counts. This helps to slow down your heart rate and control your breathing.
  • Wim Hof Breathing: This is a more advanced breathing technique that involves taking 30 deep breaths in succession, followed by exhaling fully and holding your breath for as long as possible. This helps to increase your lung capacity and tolerance to carbon dioxide.
  • Box Breathing: This is a technique that is often used by Navy SEALs. It involves breathing in for four counts, holding your breath for four counts, breathing out for four counts, and then holding your breath again for four counts. This helps to develop your ability to control your breathing and heart rate under stress. practising these techniques regularly can help you to train your body to hold its breath for longer periods of time, which can be helpful when freediving.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation is one of the most important aspects of freediving, and there are a few different techniques that can help you relax both your body and your mind. The first is to practice diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing.” This type of breathing helps to oxygenate your blood and slow your heart rate, and it’s also effective in reducing stress.

To belly breathe, start by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Slowly inhale through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand while keeping your chest relatively still. Exhale through pursed lips, focusing on pushing all the air out of your lungs. You should feel a gentle massage on your stomach as you exhale.

Another relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body. This helps to release any tension you may be holding in your muscles, and it can also be helpful in identifying areas where you tend to hold tension.

To do PMR, start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths, and then focus on tensing the muscles in your toes for 10 seconds. Relax for 20 seconds, and then move up to the muscles in your feet, calves, thighs, etc., until you’ve worked all the way up to the muscles in your face. Practice this once or twice a week for best results.

Physical Conditioning

There are a few things you can do to help your body adjust to apnea, and to improve your freediving performance.

First, it is important to be in generally good physical condition. This will help your body withstand the stresses of freediving, and will also help you recover quickly between dives. Swimming is a great way to stay in shape for freediving, as it works many of the same muscle groups. Swimming laps is especially good for building endurance and increasing lung capacity. Other exercises that can be helpful include weightlifting (to build strength), running (to build endurance), and yoga or stretching (to improve flexibility).

Second, you should try to avoid smoking, as this can constrict your blood vessels and make it more difficult for your body to get oxygen. If you do smoke, it is especially important to warm up slowly before diving, as this will help your body adjust to the lack of oxygen.

Third, it is important to eat a healthy diet and get enough rest. A healthy diet will help your body function at its best, and getting enough rest will help reduce fatigue.


Safe diving practices are the cornerstone of freediving. When you are training for freediving, you need to be aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. One of the most important things you can do is to get apnea training.

Dangers of Freediving

While Freediving may seem relatively safe – after all, you’re just holding your breath underwater – there are actually a number of dangers associated with the sport. The most serious danger is hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. When you hold your breath, your body is starved of oxygen, and if you stay underwater for too long, you can lose consciousness. This can lead to drowning.

There are other dangers as well, such as barotrauma, which is damage to the body caused by changes in pressure. This can happen when you ascend too quickly from depth, and the sudden change in pressure can rupture lungs, eardrums, or sinuses.

Another danger is hypothermia, or low body temperature. This can happen when you stay in cold water for too long, and your body temperature drops to a dangerous level. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness. If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to coma and death.

Finally, there is the danger ofPanic. Because Freediving requires you to hold your breath for long periods of time, it can be very stressful on the body and mind. If you start to feel anxious underwater, it’s important to stay calm and surface slowly and safely. If you panic and surface too quickly, you could experience a rise in blood pressure which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Freediving is a great way to explore the underwater world, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers involved so that you can stay safe while enjoying this exciting sport

Emergency Procedures

If your buddy signals a problem during a freedive, follow these emergency procedures:

  • If your buddy is diving with an inhalation device (such as a snorkel), give the signal for “out of air” and then surface with your buddy.
  • If your buddy is diving without an inhalation device, give the signal for “out of air” and then quickly swim down to them. Tap their shoulder to get their attention and then surface together.
  • If your buddy signals that they are hurt, surface immediately and provide first aid as necessary.


So there you have it, a basic overview of what types of apnea training are available to help improve your freediving performance. Remember, always consult with a qualified freediving instructor before undertaking any new type of apnea training, and never push yourself beyond your comfort level or capabilities. With proper training and safety precautions, you can greatly improve your freediving skills and enjoy this amazing sport to its fullest!

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