Book review – The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown

As part of my journey as a freediver i’m always looking for things that can make my experience easier, more fun and more fulfilling. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not wanting to cut corners in my training but I don’t want to waste my time doing things that don’t get me anywhere . My time, like yours is precious, my training regime is designed to give maximum returns and because of that I keep my eyes out for bits of information that could refine that regime, make it slicker, make it … easier!

I was contacted by the author of ‘The oxygen advantage’ around Christmas time, asking me if id have a look at his book and to see if it had any relevance for us a freedivers.

A book about oxygen? Well certainly at face value, the subject matter is right on the money.

What’s it about

In brief, the Author has compiled a vast compendium of scientific journals and personal experience to create an introduction to the concept of efficient breathing for the improvement of athletic performance.

It should be noted in advance that this is not a freediving book per se.

The main focus of the book centers around the idea of a BOLT score. A basic, self administered test which will give you a score from 1-40 that will give you an idea to how efficient your respiration is. Those scoring badly are likely to be hyperventilating and generally over breathing, leading to inefficient use of oxygen with poor transfer rates, vessel dilation and blood acidity. Those who score highly, the opposite will be true.

Using the BOLT score as a starting point the author discusses methods to improve that score through a breathing exercises, knowledge development and lifestyle choices.

Is it useful?

As a freediver with a fair amount of experience a lot of the content is of no massive shock. The techniques mirror a lot of what I/we do already. The focus on relaxed shallow breathing, avoiding hyperventilation, concentrating on diaphragmatic breathing, choosing the right foods to control blood acidity, is the kind of stuff that many of us know already (To the non-freediver and athlete its all likely to be new information, which is of course the vast portion of the market).

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some details that could really broaden your knowledge and solidify what you already know.

For example, EPO and Nitric Oxide being terms that you will become familiar with after reading and that will probably be new to you unless you follow respiratory science with a vengeance.

Who should buy it?

I think it would be of some use to all freedivers to varying degrees.

The best way I can think of letting you know whether you should give it a read is like this…

1: Beginner freedivers

If you are just starting out and haven’t done a freediving course yet, id suggest that you don’t buy this book yet. Some of the techniques are a little different to what we teach, no that they are bad (not at all) but they may confuse you in the early days.

2: Intermediate freedivers

So you have done a course and you can categorise yourself in that vast group that is the intermediate?

This is probably the group that would most benefit from the book. It will give a lot of great dry training options and breathing exercises that can only bolster your knowledge.

3: Advanced freedivers

If you are an advanced freediver then, depending on your reading on the subject the book will be of some use to you, again giving a more varied selection of breathing exercises and background scientific knowledge that could help your journey.

4: Expert freediver

As a freediver with an expert knowledge and skill level you may not find a huge amount of immediately useful/new content, however it will give some solid re-enforcement to your existing knowledge base and will probably add a few new aspects too.

To conclude

The oxygen advantage was a good read It has some great exercises and some very interesting information that is of relevance to us a freedivers. The content is easy to understand and is written in a relaxed style that makes the information very accessible, don’t think that this is a book for scientists only. Like i said previously it wont break our concepts of freediving technique and theory but it does provide some valuable information that can be of use to us not only in our freediving, but in our daily lives too.

Once again, it seems to be proven that we are all on to something pretty special with this freediving thing that we are all so enamoured with!

Please note: I have received nothing other than a free copy of this book in return for this review. This review is honest and unbiased and is written for the benefit of our readers and students rather than for the author.

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