Interval training for freediving

Training for freediving is a complicated affair!

Questions such as …. How often should I train? Should I be going to the gym every day? How often should I be doing breath hold exercises? Do I do weights? Do I need to go to Yoga? Should I be diving all the time? …… Will at some time or another pass thorough the mind of every freediver, and fair enough!

Despite its simplicity, Freediving is physiologically a complicated sport. In a dive the athlete will challenge his/her heart and mind in a variety of ways. Swinging from Aerobic work to Anaerobic work at unspecified times/depths. Pushing through fast lactic acid build up in the propulsive muscle groups. Thats just the tip of the iceberg!

So….. what can we do to train for this sport of ours?

This post is all about Interval training (I will cover other elements of training in other posts), a type of physical training which can be bled in to every workout which we do, both breath hold, aerobic and anaerobic.

So what is interval training? Interval training is any type of training which follows this simple pattern… A short period of MAXIMUM stress/workload….followed by a short period total rest/low activity….. and repeat….. and repeat…. and repeat…. for about 6-10 reps . Simples!


Example: Swim 100m at FULL speed, using every ounce of energy that you have. Then rest at the end for 1 minute. Then swim another 100m at full speed …. and so on….

This can be applied to any exercise routine. Personal favorites are cross trainers, lane swimming and rowing machines. As long as you stick to the pattern then you are doing the business. You can also do Apnea interval training! With a buddy….. Try doing a fast 50m dynamic followed by a rest . Or you could do Apnea interval weight training by doing short reps of weights whilst breath holding, followed by a rest (its great for training the legs).

Interval training

So what does interval training do?

‘Interval training is a favorite of coaches because of its effectiveness in cardiovascular build-up and also its ability to make more well-rounded runners / riders / swimmers / divers. However, it is also applicable to exercisers as it helps improve exercisers’ aerobic capacity to exercise longer at varying intensities (Mayo Clinic, 2009)’

‘Interval training can be an effective means of enhancing an athlete’s lactate threshold – i.e. increase the threshold at which lactate starts to accumulate in the blood. Lactate threshold has been shown to be a significant factor determining performance for long distance running events.

This method of training may be more effective at inducing fat loss than simply training at a moderate intensity level for the same duration. This is due the metabolism boosting effects of high intensity intervals.’

Interval training will ultimately do a few crucial things for the freediver.

It gives a strong heart, burns fat, conditions against lactic acid burn, assists anaerobic conditioning, strengthens important muscle groups…… and a big plus, keeps exercise times down as you dont need to spend hours on the treadmill to get the best results!

Ill go over other more specific training tips in other posts, such as apnea exercises, stretching/yoga exercises and entire training plans….

Have fun, mix it up and don’t have a heart attack! …. Disclaimer inserted here 😉

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve been doing some interval running with a heart rate strap lately. At first I was doing 8 reps sprinting for about 45 seconds. I’d get to about 90% of heart rate max at the end of each sprint, then slow down until my heart rate got back down to about 70% heart rate max.

    I’m pretty fit. but have a very strong urge to breath and usually start feeling uncomfortable around 45 seconds static.

    Then I thought, why train myself to work hard (anaerobically) for 45 seconds when I’m trying to get comfortable diving for 1:30 consistently? Lately I’ve been changing it up by running a slow warmup until I get to 80%, and picking up speed for 2-5 minutes. I push it for that time, usually hitting 90% after the first minute, and then keeping my heart rate between 90-93 % for the next 1-4 minutes. I do 4-6 of these long intervals and allow my heart rate to go down to 70-80% between them.

    What do yo think of this approach?

    1. At the level you seem to be at, fitness isnt go to be a major factor. Work on c02 tables more and you will see your times improve. Remember freediving is mostly about relaxation. Ive seen qute unfit people do impressive statics just because they are so chilled out!

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