Static apnea is the first step in freediving when you are holding your breath and not moving. Let’s talk about how to learn to hold your breath safely and for an extended period.
The best place to learn how to do a breath hold correctly is, without a doubt, a freediving course. In most cases, the agency or the location is insignificant. Just check that static apnea is a part of the beginner-level freediving course.
But what if you can’t do a course at the moment? Or you did it a while ago and forgot most of it (yes, it happens).
Then, this article is for you!
Trying to breathe hold without understanding what is happening in your body at this moment is not the best way.
Start (or refresh) your freediving journey by understanding the basic freediving theory. Again, the best place for it is the freediving course.
The second best place is to watch our online tutorials 🙂
The breath holds itself has three steps – relaxation breathing, the breath hold, and recovery breathing after it. The breath hold can be further divided into an easy and struggling phase (after contractions kick in).
After you understand the basic freediving theory, don’t be rash and immediately start holding your breath. Let’s first learn how to do breathing before a breath holds. Yes, it’s important.
Before a breath-hold, freedivers practice so-called breath up (relaxation breathing). The goal is to relax the body and stop worrying.
Here is more information on how to do relaxation breathing.
The next step is a big breath in. How deep should you inhale? In theory – as deep as possible. But for a beginner freediver, a huge breath-in usually makes it uncomfortable. What is the solution? In the short run – do less than the maximum inhale (let’s say 90%). In the long run – learn how to engage all the respiratory muscles for the maximum inhale and regularly do diaphragm and thoracic cavity stretching. The more air you inhale, the more O2 your lungs will have.
Ok, now you ready to hold your breath. But how long should you hold?
For beginners, we recommend holding only until the first contractions kick in. In freediving, we call it the “no contraction” table.
After practicing the “no contraction table” for a while, you can measure how long you can hold. But remember, no pushing! Let’s say you can hold until the urge to breathe kick in and a little more (10-30 seconds). The more you postpone the desire to go all in, the better chances to understand the basic principles of the breath hold.
After you have done your max (it’s not the actual max since you were not pushing, right?), try the easy version of CO2 table – classical. There is some criticism of this table (mainly because it is too easy), but it’s worth it for you as a beginner.
Here is our tutorial on how to do a classical CO2 table.
And for the first month, do nothing else. 2-3 days of no contraction table, then easy CO2 table. Every two weeks, you can do your new “PB.” Try to avoid pushing too hard.
After 1-2 months of training, you can intensify your training. For example, include a “one breath” table in your training regime. Also, on your dry days can exhale STA, just for versatility.
Avoid trying PB too often if you can do more than three minutes now.
Pay attention to the idea of overtraining. Though it’s quite hard to harm your body, training too much can lead to losing interest in continuing training. Choose the frequency wisely. Ideally, you don’t want to train more than three-four times per week for a few months.
Of course, we are all different, and one approach can be perfect for one freediver but not another. So, come back to the beginning of this post – you want to train with a coach. But what if you don’t have a coach?
Then check out our online coaching program!