There a ton of ideas surrounding freediving and what it takes to be a competent diver.
Everything from yoga to trance like murmurs can be seen and heard from a boat deck when you around serious freedivers preparing for their dives.
Talk about the pre-dive situation could literally fill a book, and not one diver will agree on which way is absolutely right.
The truth is, our bodies are all different and we all have to find our own way. This is why free diving is so appealing, it is a deeply individual experience. But what about the work that is done before the pre-dive?
Can you be a smoker who is a free-diver, can you sit on the couch and never exercise?
Freediving Is An Attitude Not An Aptitude
I personally love to watch freediving videos. I feel like I am re-living dreams that I had when I was little of being able to breathe under water. The athletes in those videos are incredible, just really the cream of the crop free-divers.
As my imagination goes wild I always have to keep reminding myself that the abilities of others are not, and may never be, my abilities. We all share the common ground that we love to dive as deep as possible for as long as possible and that is about all that we share as humans in this sport. So now that we have clarified that safe freediving is not a race, lets talk about how you become better for yourself.
What Do I Need To Exercise?
We can break down the training idea into two categories. 1. Physical Fitness Training. and 2. Freedive Training. There are a lot of not-so-obvious reasons to the beginner as to why physical fitness and free-dive training is necessary so stay with me.
Physical Fitness Training
This Should Include:
Building Muscle: This sport does not take the brute force effort that a lot of terra-firma sports do. This doesn’t mean that your muscles do not need to be tailored for the sport, however. The proper amount of muscle will enable you to use less energy and in turn, use less oxygen.
Activities like Yoga (Or Bro-ga for you insecure guys out there), Lifting Weights, and lap swimming can all improve muscle structure in the correct areas.
Anaerobic Exercise: The idea here is to increase the body’s tolerance of lactic acid through anaerobic activities, which essentially require the body to not have enough oxygen to do what it is doing. These types of exercises include calisthenic while breath holding and high intensity cardiovascular activities such as sprinting etc.
Cardio: A really effective way to increase overall oxygen uptake. This will increase your body’s ability to capture the maximum amount of air in your lungs, as well as strengthen your heart. Jogging, biking or machines at the gym can help you achieve a heart pumping, longer duration cardio session.
Flexibility Training: Flexibility is very important to a diver because our movements need to be simple and effective. To achieve flexibility you could stretch or do yoga.
Freedive Specific Training This Should Include:
Mediation (Calm Yourself): Don’t worry, not the kind that you are probably thinking of. Simple meditation could be sitting on the floor thinking about the events of the day while deep breathing, anything you find that lowers your heart rate and calms your mind. These are important skills to know and your body needs to be in practice with them.
Breath Holding: Breath holding can be a strange and difficult thing to get your body used to. It’s a very unnatural thing for a human to do but with practice and patience you can improve exponentially.
In order to increase your CO2 tolerance you must train your mind and body to allow higher levels of CO2, and this should be done by safe breath-holding in controlled situations like on your floor or couch.
Inner-Ear Equalization: A lot of new divers have issues with this, so if you do, don’t worry just practice. There are a few ways that are recommended to equalize and they have cool Jacques Cousteau-like names.
By pinching your nostrils closed and blowing through your nose you should be able to equalize your ears. I find it is much easier to imagine the air will come out your ears. Keep practicing with different variations of your tongue and jaw position.
Pinch your nostrils closed and swallow gently. Be careful, this one can hurt while you are practicing it.
Proper Form : Proper form under the water can really only come from experience. It’s really important when you are in the water to optimize your time with proper form techniques. Think of how effective dolphins or fish swim and use as little movement as possible when you swim. It’s incredible how little effort it takes to move around underwater.
Your Personal Fitness Plan
The time has come for you to put this plan into action. Write down some structured work outs just for fun to see if there is one that makes sense to you. Be sure that it includes all of the above recommendations if you are getting serious about freediving, they are an awesome avenue for you to get to the next level.
Be careful guys (and girls) this stuff kills people. I am not saying that to scare anyone, it is just the truth about the sport and the ocean.
Honestly the best way to learn about how you personally relate to the practices above is to get in touch with a certified school and take lessons, everyone can learn something new at them no matter how experienced you are.
Be safe! Have Fun! And go spear some fish for Pete’s sake. (Or whoever’s sake)
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Thanks For Reading!
Fitness & Freediving Training: How In Shape Do I Have To Be? is a post from: The Spearfishing Academy