Caution: learning how to hold your breath can be fun but be careful and always have a buddy on hand to watch out for you. A great pre-read to this article is Breathing 101.This takes you through the fundamentals of learning to breath properly.
In this article we are going to take a look at training technique to hold your breath for longer periods. Hopefully you will never have to suffer a two-to three-wave hold down however as a waverider it is very possible and preparing for the inevitable will help you cope with the overwhelming sense of panic that can set in as you run out of oxygen when 20 feet under the surface.
This is why it is important to learn how to hold your breath longer
Caution: I cant stress this enough. Be very careful when learning and practicing to hold your breath because you could black out. When you are doing your exercises do them on land and clear of objects you could crack your head on if you fall, better yet sit down! Also get a friend to spot you while you doing it. Pro surfer Jay Moriarty tragically died while practicing to hold his breath underwater in the Maldives. Mark Healy has said the closest he has come to Drowning has been in a pool 4 feet deep.
Half the work of learning to hold your breath for extended periods of time is mental. Everyone has their favorite calming preparations. If you practice meditation or yoga you have a good start. ”A good trick to use when training is to go from A-Z on the alphabet and think of a friend for every letter use famous or historic people for letters you can't think of a friend.
When training, smile relax and have fun. Learn to be in control when you find yourself running out of air. This is really important because the more you learn to remain calm in a stressful situation the less likely you are to panic under the water. Panicking is the result of the adrenaline pouring into your system raising your heart rate and the net result is you burn more oxygen when you should be conserving it. Your decision making also becomes impaired as you enter the fight or flight mode in reaction to the stressful situation. Remaining calm is above all the most important technique to learn.
“You need to go to your happy spot to calm yourself when you’re getting worked. That helps.”
You need to know your starting point so get out the stopwatch and time yourself as you hold your breath. Time your breathing three times then calculate the average of the three. This is your starting point and you base time you need to better.
Each morning take a few minutes to work with your breathing. While laying flat on your back, place one hand flat on your stomach and the other just above so that it rests on your chest. Inhale slowly as much as you can, hold for a count of three, then exhale all of the breath. You should feel your chest expand on the inhale and contract when you exhale. Concentrate and practice so that your lungs take in a lot of air and expand with the breath.
Inhale then relax. Concentrate on loosening and relaxing your muscles while inhaling and holding your breath. When you tense, your body wants to inhale. It is the carbon dioxide in your lungs that wants to exhale which causes you to tense up and feel panic when holding your breath. By relaxing you give your body more time to hold the breath.
Practice controlled exhaling. Holding your breath doesn't mean you cannot exhale. If you allow the carbon dioxide to slowly leave your body through slow and controlled exhalation. During your practice sessions, as you are holding your breath, be prepared to exhale a little at a time.
Mark Healy says "My favorite breath holding exercise is to find a good stationary bike that shows resistance level, RPMs, and time.
First, I'll find a medium/high resistance level and get it going up to an RPM rate that is high but at the same time is a level that I know I can keep up for 45 minutes. I'll do a five-minute warm-up, and then start my breath-hold. I can do 30 seconds holding my breath, then a minute breathing, 30 sec hold, one minute breathe. The whole point is to keep the resistance and RPM's the same the whole time. So if there was a print out of your workout on the bike it would not show ups and downs, just a constant even pace.
I'll do this for half an hour breathing only through my mouth. This exercise teaches my body to deal with oxygen and carbon dioxide more efficiently and to 'recover on my feet'. When I'm done with the exercise I will have held my breath for 10 minutes out of 30.
Bodysurfing is an excellent form of cross-training for larger surf it's essentially hypoxic training at its purest form, and has the advantage of being fun to do in surf you'd never paddle out to ride.