4 breath hold exercises to boost your underwater time

Just like hitting the gym is a cornerstone to improving your muscular capacity, the same can be applied to underwater confidence.  Training your body to endure the rigors of oxygen deprivation and Co2 tolerance is just as important as other forms of training while prepping for selection.  And just like utilizing different exercises to train the same muscle groups, there is more than one way to train for underwater exercises.  We don’t need to limit ourselves to doing endless 25m underwaters to improve our capacity– in fact I would disapprove of this method.
There are two physiological factors at play when attempting to increase your breath hold capability: O2 deprivation and Co2 tolerance.  Your urgency to pop during underwater activities is largely attributed to the buildup of Co2 in your body- not the lack of oxygen (although lack of O2 is still a factor- just not the primary one).  That’s why I suggest you apply more focus to the Co2 tolerance tables below rather than the O2.

-Static Tables are breathing exercises meant to be done while sitting still; in a rest position.  What’s great about these is you can do them almost anywhere.  (DO NOT ATTEMPT THESE TABLES WHILE DRIVING!)
-Dynamic Tables are while you are in motion.  This could be while doing underwaters, walking, sprinting or performing any other motion that depletes your breath hold capacity quicker than while at rest.

The tables below can be modified!  Adjust the times up or down to meet your performance level.  You can also mix it up by attempting 100m breath hold sprints on a track, etc.  The purpose is to have fun with these while increasing your breath hold capacity. These should be challenging, so push yourself and you will get better overnight.  Do not expect overnight results.  This, along with any other exercise program, takes time to see results.

Static Co2 Tolerance Table (3-4x per week):
Above water, not moving breath holds (ie: sitting in a chair or lying down)

Breathe           Hold
2:30                  1:00
2:15                  1:00
2:00                  1:00
1:45                  1:00
1:30                  1:00
1:15                  1:00
1:00                  1:00
1:00                  1:00
1:00                  1:00

 

Static O2 Deprivation Table (1-2x per week):
Above water, not moving breath holds (ie: sitting in a chair or lying down)

Breathe           Hold
2:00                  :40
2:00                  :50
2:00                  1:00
2:00                  1:10
2:00                  1:20
2:00                  1:30
2:00                  1:40
2:00                  1:50
2:00                  2:00


Dynamic Co2 Deprivation Table:

-Perform 25m underwater with no fins and rest on the opposite side (do not freestyle back to the starting point).  This  table can also be accomplished on land by walking 30 seconds instead of the underwater.

25m underwater      1:30 rest
25m underwater      1:20 rest
25m underwater      1:10 rest
25m underwater      1:00 rest
25m underwater        :50 rest
25m underwater        :40 rest
25m underwater        :30 rest
25m underwater


Static Single Breath Hold Repetitions:
This Co2 tolerance exercise is a substitute for the co2 table above if you are short on time.

-Take one exhalation/inhalation every :45 seconds for 6:00.
(Example: Inhale and breath hold, start the clock.  At :45 exhale your breath, take one inhale and continue to hold.  Repeat at 1:30, 2:15, 2:30, etc)

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