Is there any type of training you can do to help maintain your breath underwater?

When diving in a lake, using only diving goggles, I can hold my breath for about 10 seconds before needing to surface. Can I do anything to improve that time?

  • Googling for how to train breath holding brings up several entries. What have you tried? Jul 31 '20 at 19:27
  • I've held my breath in rounds before: hold 1 minute, rest, repeat. Ive not done this regularly. Sitting now, I can hold my breath for 1:30 but that doesn't correlate to underwater time.
    – C. Lange
    Jul 31 '20 at 20:04
  • Anecdotally, I was obsessed with this for some time after seeing one of those famous illusionists do it for a ridiculous amount of time. He was lowered into a tank of water and his feet were placed in shackles that held him under. But because the shackles were loose, he had to point his toes upward to stay submerged, and simply having to spend oxygen flexing anything will dramatically reduce your capacity to hold your breath. Point being, results and measurements will vary a lot, and as you accurately point out, whatever you do sitting won't translate well to underwater time.
    – Alec
    Jul 31 '20 at 23:54
  • 1
    Anyway, just to curve it on topic, improving your swimming technique will also dramatically increase the length you can swim while submerged, since you'll be spending less oxygen per unit distance.
    – Alec
    Jul 31 '20 at 23:57
  • I had not thought of that, @Alec. I'm definitely not a great swimmer so that could be important.
    – C. Lange
    Aug 1 '20 at 0:07

First of all, I need to tell you this: Don't hyperventilate. When one does that the percentage of CO2 reduces and CO2 is responsible to help you understand that you need to resurface. A friend of mine, really good diver, died last year probably due to that.

The training plans depend on your goals, but there are exercises for big wave surfers, for spearfishers,... There are dry and wet trainings one can do:

  • Dry trains include things like CO2/O2 tables. The first one helps one handle high levels of CO2 in the luns and the last one helps one store more O2.

  • For wet exercises, I always recommend doing them with supervision. And one has activities like finding objects underwater, swimming distances underwater (with various intensities) ,...

When holding one's breath, one should keep in mind that every move, or even thought, consumes energy. So, keep calm. By being calm, one might also reduce the heartbeat rate, which is one of the tricks I use to hold the breath longer.

We, humans, have an advantage: Mammalian Diving Reflex.

The diving reflex is triggered specifically by chilling and wetting the nostrils and face while breath-holding,

Finally, and sharing my personal experience, spearfishing with frequency, cardios (such as swimming, running) and some complementary gym training (weight lifting) is enough to help me hold the breath, statically, for more than 4min.

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