How to maximize your breath holding ability

With more and more interest in freedive spearfishing there are more accidents weekly and monthly. So with advice on how to hold your breath longer it is imperative to supply you with information on how to freedive safely. I will go through a small list of safety precautions to keep in mind. The big theme here is to have fun and be safe! Staying down longer is just an added bonus.

First thing first! Do not push the limits underwater. If you are going to push the limits, do it on your couch so you wake up in the same spot if you pass out. Practicing on your couch may sound funny but it is a perfect place to practice by yourself. Dive under the supervision of a dive buddy. This doesn’t mean somebody on the boat. They will not have enough time to react and save you! Do not hyperventilate when breathing up. Make sure your ear drums equalize properly. Make sure your weight belt has the proper weight on it so that you are neutrally buoyant at 30 feet and positive at any shallower depths. This insures that if you black out you will most likely float to the surface. And always rest on the surface for much longer than your dive times.

Now, going deeper, staying longer, and shooting more fish! First you want to get in the best shape possible. Practicing to maximize your lung capacity and losing weight will increase your body’s ability to seize the oxygen in the air you breathe in.

Breathing techniques vary from person to person but the overall strategy is to take a breath slowly for a couple seconds, hold it in for a second and slowly exhale over the course of a few seconds (8-10). When exhaling the purpose is to rid your body all the co2 so it is imperative to exhale all your remaining air. After repeating this cycle for 2+ minutes your going to want to take two full short breaths and go back to the first cycle. This will help you hold more oxygen content from the air. Now you are ready to take a semi full breath to hold. Start with your stomach and then fill your chest until you are at about 80% of max capacity. This will allow you to remain relaxed throughout the dive. Another way to help your breath hold is to jump start your mammalian reflex. You can do this by splashing your face with cool water. This should help trigger the body’s ability to self regulate the slowing of the heart rate.

Relaxation is another key point in maximizing your breath hold. The more relaxed you are the slower the heart rate and the longer you will take to run out of the body’s oxygen. Exhaling slowly and partially will help you recover from the dive you just came up from. Be Careful, stay focused on safety first and fish last. These recommendations are based on my personal experiences and If you have any interest on really maximizing your abilities please come to a class. FII courses are available at Captain Hooks Marina in Marathon and are an extensive look at safety and efficiency in underwater exploration from a freediving standpoint. To avoid inherent risks associated with diving please see professionals and Dive at your own risk! Everybody has a different limit.