Welcome to Part Seventeen of The Beginner’s Guide to Freediving, the best place to start your freediving journey. If you’re planning to start freediving, this chapter is all  about training for recreational freediving. It looks at dry training exercises that you can do at home, including CO2 and O2 tables, fitness training with apnea walking, strength training and yoga, and wet training exercises and games that you can do in a pool. Rest and recovery are talked about as well as the overwhelming importance of the mind and how you can use this to train for freediving.

Exercises For Recreational Freediving

Before you even hit the water for your first freediving course, there are exercises that you can do to help prepare you mentally and physically for freediving. Before anyone arrives for a freediving course with me, they have already received an information pack containing optional breathing, stretching and breath hold exercises and advice on diet and mental preparation. After you have completed your course you will have a clearer idea about how to breathe correctly and can continue with dry training before you hit the water again.

Even though there is no substitute for actually getting wet, many top level freedivers have little access to the water and do a lot of their pre-competition training in the gym and at home. You may only be able to get to the water every month or on holiday, but there is plenty of training that you can do every day without any special equipment.

In this article we’ll be looking at different forms of training that you can do, both in and out of the water, to enhance your enjoyment of recreational freediving.

Training for Recreational Freediving – Dry training exercises

Dry training for freediving is simply training for recreational freediving that you do out of the water. For obvious reasons this is far safer than training in water, however any training that involves breath holding should be thought through carefully. If you are holding your breath then it should be done when you are lying down on a bed or sofa. If you are practicing breath holding when standing or walking, make sure someone is on hand to lend assistance or put appropriate safety measures in place.

It can be interesting to observe your mammalian dive reflex in action by wearing a heart rate monitor and getting your instructor or buddy to observe how your heart rate changes during the exercises.

Beginners Guide to Freediving - Training for recreational freediving - Emma Farrell Dry Training for Freediving

Emma Farrell Dry Training for Freediving

Training for recreational freediving – Carbon dioxide and oxygen training tables

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) training tables are intended to help your body exercise and adjust to high levels of carbon dioxide and low levels of oxygen. The exercise involves holding your breath eight times. With a CO2 table, the length of time you hold your breath for stays the same, whilst the recovery time between each hold diminishes. With O2 tables, the recovery time stays the same but the length of your breath hold increases.

Both training tables can be used on dry land, preferably while lying down on a bed or sofa. The CO2 table should be set to around 60% of your maximum breath hold time and the O2 table should be set to around 85% of your maximum breath hold time. On a freediving course you will be able to work safely with your instructor to establish roughly what you maximum breath hold time is. Because O2 tables take you near your max it is not recommended to do them in water.

Do not perform more than one training for recreational freediving table a day and avoid going for maximum breath hold attempts on the same day. Also make sure that during the recovery time between each hold you do not over-breathe, as that would defeat the object of the training tables.

There are many excellent smartphone apps on the market that will prompt you to breathe and hold your breath at the correct times. You can also write your own tables out (see below,) which are easy to follow as you simply start a stop watch and keep it running.

CO2 table with maximum breath hold set at 1 minute 30 seconds