Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeFreedivingA Winter Training Program for Freedivers: Part II

A Winter Training Program for Freedivers: Part II


IMPORTANT: BEFORE ATTEMPTING any of the exercises described in this article, it is essential that you review FREEDIVERS 20 Safety Rules and Safety for Static, and instruction through an accredited school is highly recommended

Safety is a critical issue in Dynamic Apnea. People tend to stretch their limits as there is no depth involved.

Apart from being a competitive discipline in its own right, Dynamic Apnea is probably the single most important training mode for Fixed Weight other than doing Fixed Weights training itself. Dynamic is breath-hold with stress, as in Fixed Weight, providing the opportunity to do Hypoxic Training – Lactic Acid Training, to train the specific muscles you would use in Fixed Weights AND train style and rhythm.

Monofinners should be covering 50m (in a 50m pool), in about 25 undulations.

We of FREEDIVERS instruct with the maxim: a 10% improvement in style equals a 10% improvement in results whereas a 10% improvement in fitness IF it is invested in poor style may not even produce a 1% improvement in results.

This is particularly true of Dynamic, but if we remove equalization problems from the equation it also applies to Fixed Weights and Free Immersion. The recording of Dynamic training data is important and can produce a wealth of information, (i.e. distance, time, number of kick cycles or undulations, recovery time etc.). This is particularly interesting when a heart monitor is employed.

Using the Tables

As the length of pools varies it may be difficult to find an exact number of whole pool lengths equating to an ideal 75% of your maximum apnea distance, so use reasonable approximations. For example, if your maximum is 85m and you had at your disposal a 33m pool, you would set Table A with a dive distance of 2 lengths. If you had a 50m pool at your disposal you would set it for 1 length. With a 25m pool, you would probably set it at 2 lengths. Your setting could be anywhere from 60-80% of your maximum. If your setting is closer to the bottom range of distance you could, in order to make the exercise more challenging, immediately reduce the Rest Times.

Your safety diver (partner) should be ready to meet you during the last, stressed 25% of the exercise. Here we are basically talking about a 50m pool scenario. In Table A, she should be recording not only the length of time it takes to do each length but also the number of kick cycles, and must also be ready to intervene in the case of Shallow Water Blackout.

The objectives of Dynamic Apnea training are to increase apnea times in movement and to improve style and hydrodynamic efficiency.

TABLE A – with Equipment

This exercise is applicable to Dynamic Apnea with or without fins. For monofinners who are using Dynamic as a training exercise for Fixed Weights, try doing this Table with arms extended in front, using the same undulations you would use for monofinning.

Establish your maximum Dynamic Apnea distance and set Table A to about 50-60% of this. The number of lengths is constant and the interval systematically decreases, as with Static Table A for carbon dioxide tolerance.

Here, obviously, if your maximum distance is 50m and you had a 25m pool, you might set your repetitive distance for this to 1 length, i.e. 25m, and execute the following Table.

For a 50m Maximum Dynamic


Rest Dive


2:00 25m


1:50 25m


1:40 25m


1:30 25m


1:20 25m


1:10 25m


1:00 25m


0:50 25m

Objective 1: To increase the number of dives using the minimum rest time (0:50) so that you would do the Table up to Repetion 6 at 1:10 rest and then the next two with only 0:50 seconds in-between. When this becomes easy you would do the Table up to Rep 5 @ 1:20 and the last three with only 0:50 in between. Finally up to Rep 4 @ 1:30 and then ALL the rest with only 0:50 in between. Then move to Obj.2. The time scale for this is entirely at the discrepancy of the diver and might be changed over a period of a few weeks. He might also relate the rest period to a given number of breaths rather than a time.

Objective 2: To decrease the rest time by 10 seconds throughout. The first ventilation period would be 1:50 and the last would be 0:40 seconds.

NB: The above ratios (in seconds) of change are relevant only to the above example. In much more advanced stages of breath-hold dynamic using Table A, you might be able to achieve a decrease in the rest time from between 15 – 20 seconds, (one or two breaths.) Approach this with caution and a good partner observing.

TABLE B – with Equipment

Take 2 full breaths on the surface, in movement. Dive and swim, (for example) 4 – 6 kick cycles. Surface and while still moving to take 2 more breaths before diving again. Keep this up for 40 minutes without increasing the number of kick cycles per dive under water. For monofinners read undulations for kick-cycles.

TABLE C – APNEA Sprints or surface Swim sprints

Option 1 – In a 25m pool:

Fin or swim 5 sets of 25m lengths at maximum speed, with a minute and a half recovery between each length.

Option 2 – In a 33m pool:

Fin or swim 5 sets of 33m lengths at maximum speed, with a minute and a half recovery between each length.

TABLE D ‘Departs’ – Swimming

Complete a series of 8 x 50m lengths departing every 1:15 (for example). This rest interval can be reduced in stages by a few seconds when the exercise becomes comfortable.

Equivalent swim training exercises for hypoxic, lactic acid and interval training abound and can be found through local swim clubs. This all helps boost aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

TABLE E ‘Hypoxic Pyramid’ – Swimming (Example)

Swim 400m Freestyle in the following fashion.

50m breathing every 4 strokes then 50m breathing every 6 strokes, then 50m every 8, every 10, every 10 again and reducing down in the same way as you increased the number of strokes down to every 4 strokes over 50m.


The Dry exercise involves 4 repetitions.

Sitting cross-legged on the ground ventilate for 1 minute, holding the breath for 30 seconds, then getting up and walking until you can no longer hold your breath. Mark where you stopped the walk. Return to the start position and begin the exercise again as before. The second repetition should exceed the first in distance. Allow yourself a comfortable recovery time between each repetition. The exercise is NOT intended as interval training.

The third and fourth repetitions are similar and involve ventilating for 2 minutes, breath-hold for a minute and walking until you can no longer hold your breath. The fourth repetition should have the longest breath-hold time and the furthest walk of the entire series.

(Refer to the Dry Walk Log).

This is a superb exercise for Fixed Weights. It will teach you a lot about intensity and rhythm. Very often walking a little faster does not necessarily mean you will walk for a shorter time. The most important objective of this exercise is of course ‘distance walked’. When we ask for the LOG to be measured in double paces we mean walking back to your departure point using a normal stride length and counting every time the left foot comes down as one double pace. The other thing it demonstrates is the degree of your breath-hold reflex, which is directly related to fitness level, breath-hold training level, and age. and might go something like this:

(BPM = heart rate in beats per minute)

  1. At the end of the ventilation phase – 88 bpm.

  2. After 1:00 Static Breath-hold – 72 bpm.

  3. At the end of the walk – 42bpm.

  4. 30 seconds after the resumption of breathing – 95bpm.

If your pulse is higher or lower than this it is no cause for alarm. This is merely an attempt at illustrating the general pattern to be expected.


As this is an extremely stressful exercise where the last repetition demands 100% effort there is a risk of Blackout! Therefore the recommendation is to perform this exercise on soft ground, i.e. sand or grass. If it must be performed on a hard surface a partner who walks with you and is ready to support you should you fall is necessary. The partner can also help to fill in the recording form, which is of great value. Should you find yourself getting tunnel vision or losing the line in the walk, stop immediately. The recovery position here is bent forward at the waist with the hands on the knees.


In both Static and Dynamic we have omitted any mention of Advanced exercises and in particular ’empty lung’ techniques because we feel that a very good basis in the Beginner and Intermediate techniques is necessary before these are attempted. This is for several reasons, the first of course, being safe, the second is because of the need for physiological development and that your system needs time to adapt, and the third is that a freediver needs time to learn his particular body and its reactions.

Freediving is a dangerous activity if UNSUPERVISED.

We recommend training is done best within the context of a freediving club where experienced people and a qualified instructor are present at all times.

Disclaimer: ‘FREEDIVERS’ nor DeeperBlue.net accepts NO RESPONSIBILITY for injury or death due to carrying out any of the exercises published here. The purpose of the articles is to be informative and is NOT designed to replace qualified instruction.

For a long time, we have withheld publishing training information as we believe that if misunderstood it could lead to accidents over which we have no control. However as the situation today is that there is a lot of unsupervised, ill-informed and dangerous individual practice going on, we hope that these articles will be instrumental in showing people new to freediving, and others wanting to train more efficiently, the dangers, how to prevent them, and how to set up a safer practice.

The information herein is copyright FREEDIVERS and is part of our course structure and handbook. FREEDIVERS, Maria-Teresa, and Aharon Solomons are both AIDA ***Instructor ‘Trainers’, Apnea Academy Academy Instructors (Umberto Pelizzari) and IAFD Master Instructor Trainers.

For further information contact: www.freedivers.net

Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelanhttps://www.deeperblue.com
Stephan is the Founder of DeeperBlue.com. His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up DeeperBlue.com and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.