Looking for tips for deep freediving? In this episode, Renee talks about what was happening in her training preventing her from freediving deeper than 72 meters, as well as the 6 changes implemented in order to overcome her issues with hypoxia and lack of flexibility so she can dive more easily in the 70-80+ meter range.
The six changes were recommended by Renee’s remote freediving coach, Florian Dagoury, in order to improve dive response, adaptation to pressure and mental / physical relaxation for deep freedives.
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Please enjoy this transcript of this podcast episode.
So today I want to talk about six changes I recently made in my freediving training in order to dive deeper and it’s really helping to take my freediving to a whole-nother level! It also improved my flow state on my dives, and I’m enjoying my deep dives and even dry training in ways I would’ve never imagined. But first the intro!
Hello and welcome to episode six of The Freediving Podcast, your source for information about training for freediving, not only so you can freedive better, but so you can live the most healthy and EPIC life possible!
I am your host, Renee Blundon, I’m a competitive freediver and a freediver instructor trainer living in Dahab. – And this podcast represents the efforts of my own personal research and my trial and error from my freediving training, as well as the combined efforts of a public open source information network which I invite you to join on Facebook at:
So first I just want to talk about some changes I’ll be making on the podcast!
So far The Freediving Podcast has been just AMAZING! I’ve certainly been learning a lot myself just in the process of researching and preparing all of the podcast episodes
And I’m really enjoying sharing some of these awesome things I’m learning and discovering about freediving with everyone out there listening!
And I’ve been getting some really great feedback on the podcast, which is awesome! Especially because it’s so new and everything, it’s nice to know that people are listening and finding value in what I’m saying
So I’ve been putting up pretty extensive 30-45 minute podcast episodes. Which take quite a bit of time to research and prepare everything.
And what I’d really like to do is get episodes up faster and more frequently, ideally once a week would be just perfect
So my new game plan is, to record shorter episodes, anywhere from 5-20 minutes long, which I’ll do just on my break time between my freediving training and work day…And basically I’m just gonna dump some ideas about freediving training on you
And that way while you guys are in the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, you can listen to the episodes easier and more regularly, either when you’re on your way to work in the morning, or in-between things and get some quick ideas and inspirations for your freediving training
Now I’ll still be putting out the longer extensive episodes, and will continue the Inside the Mind of the World’s Top Freedivers series, but these longer more extensive episodes will go out once a month or every other month, just whenever I can find the time to sit down and work on them
So that’s the new game plan! Very exciting!
So let’s dive in to todays topic! Like I said in the very beginning, today I want to talk about six changes that I made recently in my freediving training in order to dive deeper and also resolve some issues I had with hypoxia and chest pressure
So last month I hired a remote freediving coach, which I’ll tell you all about shortly, and basically he created a training plan and recommended I change several things in my training. Now I’m not sure if these things are definitely gonna work, because it’s still bit early in the process, it’s only week 3, but I really think it’ll work in the long term because it’s already improving my freediving in all sorts of ways, from a dive response standpoint, from a flexibility standpoint, apnea standpoint, and just how I’m approaching 70 meter depths more easily and with less hypoxia.
And so how do you improve all those different things at once without accidentally overtraining, it’s kind of this mix, what’s the perfect formula for that particular freediver, for their particular goals, which the fact of having a coach, really really helps!
So anyway I’m thinking maybe some these things can help other freedivers too who are also training in depth, especially those freedivers who are battling with hypoxia LMC’s or BO’s, or freedivers who feel pressure on the chest before/during/or after the dives, or even those freedivers out there who feel like they’ve kind-of plateaued in their training, and are just feeling really stuck at a particular depth.
So I battled with all of those things as well, and so that’s why I started working with a coach and the training he’s having me do has been super interesting for me and super helpful! So hopefully it’ll be helpful for you guys too!
So the coach that I’m working with, some of you may know him, his name is Florian Dagoury, also known as Flo, he’s from France but currently living in Thailand. And the reason why I hired Flo to coach me is that I’ve been training in FIM pretty avidly since May, just really slowly and gradually building up my depth again and my flexibility again after 8 months of bodybuilding yes, I know crazy!
And long story short, in November I started to have LMC’s (or sambas) on my FIM dives, that were in the 67-72 meter range. Sometimes the LMC’s were very minor, like my buddy couldn’t see any visible shaking but I felt inside like I was shaking, it was really weird actually.
And so I continued to go deeper and then when I was freediving in the 70-72 meter range then the LMC’s were pretty obvious, with the hands shaking and head shaking and some trouble doing the recovery breathing.
So obviously I couldn’t continue going deeper, as much as I wanted to and even though equalization was good, because I just wasn’t coming up fresh on the dives and I definitely didn’t want to have a blackout or anything like that. I really wanted to do dives where I was super fresh on the surface.
So first I tried to fix the problem myself! I knew it wasn’t an issue with technique because I’ve trained free-immersion for 4-5 years so the technique is definitely fine by now, AND it’s not a problem with equalization because I can still equalize at the bottom quite easily, and it’s not bc of overtraining (because I’ve also over-trained quite a lot in the last years so I know when that’s the case!)
So basically, I came to the conclusion that it’s just my breath-hold, my breath-hold just isn’t long enough for these dives I want to do. And I’m at my limit!
So in order to increase my breath-hold time, I began doing a lot of trainings where I did slow free-immersion dives, maybe 4-5 dives to 40meters and I’d do 2-3 of those sessions per week. And I did some pool training in free-immersion, hoping that would also help improve my breath-hold time
But even though those proper trainings, that’s for sure, they still didn’t resolve the hypoxia issue on my deep dives, I was still having LMC’s on the surface when I did deep dives, when I did dives more than 70 meters or so, so yeah, it really felt like I was just banging my head against the wall!
And so I hired Flo to coach me!
I’ve known Flo for about five years now and wanted to work with him because, well for 1, he’s super experienced and very knowledgeable about freediving training and all the science behind it, just check-out his Instagram posts at mr.10minutes and you’ll see all his great posts
And 2) he’s a super generous person, always helping people and I remember when he was in Dahab and we were training together, he was always super helpful and coaching me, didn’t even charge me a cent. So I knew that he’s the kind of coach that will really do everything he can to help me!
Anyway, so we had an initial call, I think it was like two hours long, he asked me all these questions, how was I breathing before the dive, what was the experience going down on the dive, the experience at the bottom, coming up, how many warm-ups, how deep do I go on RV, on FRC, you name it he asked every question in the world!
And then based on everything that I told him, and all the data from my dives, he said that, the problem isn’t my breath-hold time, my breath-hold is good enough for the depths I want to do, the problem is very likely my dive response, which is not strong enough on my deep dive and also I needed to improve the flexibility in the chest, more specifically in the baroreceptors of the lungs which deal with pressure.
So in order for me to go deeper and solve the hypoxia issue, we had to make 6 changes in order to strengthen my dive response and improve my flexibility in the chest / lungs
So the first change was to change my warm-up dives – to decrease the number of warm-ups and the intensity of the warm-ups. At the time I was doing 2-3 hangs around 25-30 meters deep. So they were quite long dives and kind of deep for warm-ups.
And the problem with doing this many warm-ups and these types of warm-ups is that every warm-up dive you do basically dulls down the dive response more and more. This means that when you do your deep dive, on the dive you’ll have:
So if you’re doing a deep dive with a weakened blood-shift, this means higher O2 consumption because of the higher heart-rate AND less O2 available for the heart/lungs/brain due to lack of blood shift and lack of red blood cells from spleen, means hypoxia on surface. Add the stressed baroreceptors, chest pressure and some stress coming up into the equation, and it makes the hypoxia situation even worse.
So we ended up changing my warm-up dives from what I was doing, to just one hang at 10 meters, and hold until first contraction plus 60 seconds.
And then because I was still feeling a bit of chest pressure sometimes after doing a deep dives, we changed the one hang warm-up to two FRC dives to around 20 meters. No hanging just down and up. And this I really like!
Now let me just add that, those 2-3 hangs I was doing before, for warm-ups, these were working for me really well for a long time! But now because I’m looking to go beyond 70 meters, now I have to change these things, because otherwise I risk having a LMC/BO or even an injury, from doing too many warm-ups and so not getting a strong enough dive response.
So point is, you don’t have to change your warm-ups at all probably if you’re diving like 60 meters or below. It really just so depends on the person, and what you’re doing, which is why it’s great to have a coach so he can help you figure out all this stuff.
So another change that Flo had me do, is to do more RV and FRC training sessions in order to improve my flexibility in the lungs and chest. Basically the depth that I was diving to on RV and FRC wasn’t deep enough relative to the depth I was going to on full lungs.
So I was diving to around 70 meters on full lungs, but on FRC I was only going to 26-28 meters and on RV I think I was going to around 16 meters.
For a 70 meter dive or more, I should be able to do an RV dive to -20 meters on dive number one.
And for FRC -40 meters on dive number one or two.
So a 20 meter RV dive and a 40 meter FRC dive on dive one, this isn’t going to happen overnight and will probably take a few months to build it up (!!) but better we start the process now!
So Flo had me integrate 1-4 RV or FRC training sessions into my weekly program, the amount of RV / FRC sessions that I did per week just depended on which phase we were in.
So in week one it was a lot of volume so, I was doing 2 sessions of 10 RV dives, and 2 sessions of 10 FRC dives.
Then in week 2 and 3, I’ve been doing 1 FRC session with 6 deep FRCs because I’m doing other freediving trainings as well
I won’t go into all the nitty gritty details about RV and FRC training, but maybe I’ll cover those in another podcast episode – just trying to keep this episode as short as possible!
Ok so besides changing the warm-ups and adding in some more FRC/RV training, Flo also had be change my breath-up technique which was probably one of the biggest changes! And took a bit of getting used to.
So at the time I was breathing-up through the snorkel, for the relaxation breathing I was doing an inhale, then a hold at the top for a few seconds, then a passive exhale, full exhale, then a hold at the bottom for a few seconds, passive inhale full inhale, hold at the time, cont. It was super relaxing but a bit over-breathing
And then used to take 2-3 final breaths, holding the last breath and then go down on my dive.
It wasn’t always like that, sometimes less on the relaxation breathing, more purge breaths, I’d more or less go by feel
Anyway, the problem with that breath-up was A) there wasn’t much consistency, I’d do it slightly differently like everyday and B) Between the relaxation breathing and the number of purge breaths, I was over-breathing, so my CO2 was starting super low on the dive, which was also causing the lack of dive response, so higher heart rate, less blood-shift, and leading to hypoxia on the surface.
Flo basically said that the breathe-up I was doing before is fine if you’re diving 65 meters and below, but if you want to dive deeper than 70, now you need a super strong dive response which means I gotta change my breathing before the dive
And so the new breath-up would make it so that I dive with a normal/neutral amount of CO2 in the body, of course that’s going to be higher than I’m used to diving with (so it was certainly less relaxed at first but it’s something I just eventually go used to).
By going with just a neutral amount of CO2 would make it so the dive response kicks in faster and stronger! Also this new breathing style would be more precise, so that I always start the dive with more or less the same amount of CO2.
So for the new breath-up he had me do:
First 5 minutes of facial immersion, inhaling through the snorkel, exhaling bubbles out of the nose onto the eyes
Then 3 minutes of just regular ordinary tidal breathing – breathing very naturally belly or intercostal breathing, sipping in and sip out the air. This brings the heart rate lower, because you’re breathing less.
And if you’re doing this correctly no one should be able to see or hear your breathing from the outside.
And then do a purge breath, so full deep inhale and then an active gentile exhale, deeper than FRC but not RV, in order to start the dive fresh.
And then the final breath, add five packs and go.
So like I said this breath-up is good if you want to start a natural amount of CO2 in the body and have a stronger dive response. So now I do this breathe-up on every dive and I’m arriving on the surface super fresh without any hypoxia
Change number four, is changing my morning preparation so that it includes more specific chest and lung stretching.
Before I was doing about 20 minutes of just general full body stretching and some lung stretching – full lungs and uddiyana bandhas.
And we changed that to 6 uddiyana bandhas laying face-up on a bridge, and then five minutes laying on top of a foam roller with it pressing into my sternum. I also still do some full body stretching just to feel more loose and relaxed before diving.
Change number five is probably my favorite change.
Flo put VWT diving in the training plan, so that I can build up my depth in VWT and eventually do my target depth in that, before doing it in free-immersion.
So on week one, there was just VWT session per week, and then in week 2 and 3, he upped it to 2 VWT sessions per week.
And I am just LOVING the VWT diving! Just cruising down to depth on these dives, it’s just so fun and then arriving at the bottom super deep in the water, with all the relaxation in the world, feeling like you can stay down there forever, slowly making my way up in just total bliss, it is just HEAVEN!!
Another element Flo put in the training plan that’s different to what I was doing before is apnea walking in the evenings, three times per week.
The first week was an apnea walking CO2 table, so basically hold the breath and walk 100 meters or steps, then stop and breathe for 2 minutes, then walk another 100 meters, stop and breath for 1:30, 100 meters again, then breath for 1 min, etc.
Week two we changed the CO2 table to 75 meters because the 100 meters was a bit intense and hard to do without hyperventilating.
And then Week three we changed it to five apnea walks, starting with tidal breathing a few minutes, then hold on full lungs for 25 seconds, then exhale to FRC and then walk max distance. With the goal being 80 meters walk.
So those 6 things are the main changes that I made recently in my freediving training which were recommended by Flo, my amazing coach, so that I could freedive more easily in that 70-85 meter range and to fix the hypoxia LMC issue I was having on the surface.
Of course there were other things too, like there was breathing gymnastics 4x per week, reverse packing exercises, also deep hangs – doing like 20 second hangs at 50-60 meters to work on mental and pressure adaptation and relaxation, also made some additions in my food and supplements other things, but those 6 things I covered in this episode were like the main changes
And the good news is, it’s been working out AMAZINGLY so far. I’ve already adapted to the new warm-ups and breathe-up, and am feeling pretty relaxed on my deep dives, I haven’t had an LMC once since starting the program so that’s really great, and I am just loving the VWT dives, I did a 70 meter VWT dive recently and it was just so effortless and just amazing. And so yeah it’s going really well and it’s been just awesome working with Flo. He’s an excellent coach and I recommend him highly. Feel free to find him online just by searching for his school Freedive Flo&Olga
And so anyway this all got me thinking a lot about how important it is to have an open mind to changing your training as you approach to new depths.
I mean some of the things that I was doing in my freediving training, like my stretching, my warm-ups, my evening preparation, my in-water trainings, I was doing those things like for years, and of course I adapted and improved them, but they haven’t changed that much over the years, just small tweaks here and there and additions and stuff
But then I just kept hitting this wall in that 70-75 meter range, which was so incredibly frustrating, so I knew I must be doing something wrong and for sure I had to change something, but what exactly I had no idea
So that’s why it’s great to have a coach! Even if it’s a remote coach just to help plan your training properly and give you solutions and ideas that you may never realize just on your own.
Anyway I just wanted to throw that out there, not so much tell you what to do but just to get the wheels in your head spinning, is how can you approach new depths with an open mind so you can train better, save time and improve your freediving exponentially
So those are some things for you guys to think about today, I’m going to do some computer work now, so I’m going to end this recording, I hope you guys enjoyed this!
If this is your first time listening, please subscribe and feel free to check-out the podcast page on my website at https://www.reneeblundon.com/podcast.
And don’t forget to join the Facebook group as well. I just started doing Facebook LIVES where we do dry freediving training together, so definitely join the group even if you’re not able to freedive at the moment, because we can do some dry trainings at home all together 😀
You can find the group at facebook.com/groups/freedivingpodcast
Appreciate you guys, will talk to you again soon!