View Full Version : Lung Capacity?

08-19-2011, 05:17 PM
Hey all! I've heard stories all over of professional merfolk who have increased their lung capacity so they can hold their breath for minutes at a time, and I was wondering how one would do that. Does anyone have any tricks that could help an aspiring professional? Any funny stories? :)

08-19-2011, 05:36 PM
I currently can hold my breath for 3 minutes and 45ish seconds. One thing that is major (and I'm sorry if I'm dealing with a touchy subject) is that you shouldn't smoke. Anything that goes into your lungs harms them. I pride myself on never having smoked (anything). Also, if you have a pool try swimming across the pool under water without coming up. Once you feel you got that down (about a month) try going down and back again without coming up. And keep doing the process until you can go down, back, down, back, etc. Also, I sometimes have my husband lightly step on my back "pinning" me to the bottom so that I can just completely relax and only focus on my breath.

Also remember that any form of exercise will help increase your lung stamina.

Best of luck to you!

08-19-2011, 05:42 PM
Oh, and one other thing..making sure you are bringing in your air properly. There are deep breathers and shallow breathers...which one are you? Do a simple test. Lie on the floor and put a hand on your stomach, breathe normal and if your stomach goes up and down..then you lean more toward a deep breath. A good way to take in the most air possible before you take the plunge is breathe in so deep that your stomach expands and then concentrate on filling "the top half." you'll feel air expand into your lungs.

I hope I'm making sense for you!

08-19-2011, 07:03 PM
thanks a lot! i have a sort-of pool(it's technically a jacuzzi but the heater is broken...:L ) so i can try to just go under there and practice. I'm only sixteen, so smoking is no way a possibility in my life, and even if i WAS old enough, NO WAY! I value swimming over "looking cool", so that'll never be an issue. thanks so much! I'm impressed... almost four minutes! :O wow

Derek Broussard
08-19-2011, 07:07 PM
* 4:38, max depth is 104' on a breath-hold.*

There is a lot to being able to hold your breath. Breathing, swimming Technique, diet, relaxation, comfortability in the water, but lung capacity is at the bottom of the list. Unless you are diving past 40M or over 5 minutes you do not need to worry about your lung volume.


When performing Apnea whether dynamic (swimming underwater horizontal) or static (floating or laying, and being still) there are a few important factors:

1. Your Co2 tolerance
As the oxygen and sugars are being used, C02 is being produced. Your brain measures the amount of Co2 to estimate how long you have been underwater. A normal person will start to feel a burning sensation in their chest around 30 sec, a free diver may be around 1 1/2 minutes. If you hold longer then that the body will produce a couple more warning signs to help you "remember" to breath. These include, diaphragm contractions, Increased burning sensation. If pushed too long then it is possible to black out. A general rule is that you can hold twice as long as the time to your first contraction safely.

To help with your tolerance practice breath holds. When you feel comfortable with what you have then move on to tables.

An example of a COČ Table:
1. ventilate 2:30 static 1:30
2. ventilate 2:15 static 1:30
3. ventilate 2:00 static 1:30
4. ventilate 1:45 static 1:30
5. ventilate 1:30 static 1:30
6. ventilate 1:15 static 1:30
7. ventilate 1:00 static 1:30
8. ventilate 1:00 static 1:30
total duration 25:15

Start a little lower then your max (maybe 25%) this is now your static.

O2 tables ( good warm ups)
1.ventilate 2:00 static 1:00
2.ventilate 2:00 static 1:15
3.ventilate 2:00 static 1:30
4.ventilate 2:00 static 1:45
5.ventilate 2:00 static 2:00
6.ventilate 2:00 static 2:15
7.ventilate 2:00 static 2:30
8.ventilate 2:00 static 2:30
total duration 30:45

You max is the final static time.

Both of these tables should not be comfortable, try to increase the time every time you practice. There are also some nifty apnea table apps for the Iphone and android.

How you breath, how long your breath, and when you breath is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of free diving.

1: Using only your diaphragm ( your chest and shoulders should not rise, only your belly) Take a normal inhale.
2: Hold it for two heart beats.
3: exhale very slowly. It should take you 8-10 seconds to complete your exhale
4: pause for 2 heart beats
5: repeat.

WHEN: Before you dive
What about after? DO NOT GASP FOR AIR WHEN YOU COME UP The rapid expansion of your lungs will create a vacuum effect and draw o2 away from your brain resulting in an LMC (loss of motor control) or a black out. Instead your perform recovery breaths

1: exhale right before the surface
2: Inhale 1/4 to 1/2 of your lungs, fast.
3: exhale somewhat forcefully and long ( think soup on your spoon)
4: repeat 6 times, each time getting a little bit slower and fuller.

We all share characteristics with diving mammals like whales, dolphins, and seals. This characteristic jump starts are diving abilities by slowing down oxygen consumption and increasing the amount of oxygen we have in our blood. To get the MDR going start your pool session with facial immersions

facial immersions:
* Get in the pool
* using only a snorkel ( NO MASK), grab the edge of the pool and let your face dip into the water
* while your face is submerged, breathe as directed aove.
* Perform for 3 minutes.

If your just starting, this bit of information should improve your abilities beyond belief! PLEASE DIVE/PRACTICE WITH A BUDDY when in the water. It is easy to push to far and DIE

There are courses across the U.S that can guarantee to get students past 60' and 4 minute breath holds. Check out PFI or FII.

A few other tips.
Remember that contractions are normal. Slow your movements down.

12-27-2011, 07:33 PM
this last post is scientific and very informative.love science. thank you!

12-27-2011, 07:39 PM
Derek makes fantastic points. My lung capacity is small and will never change! But yet I have been able to hold my breath for 2 minutes so far! As far as I understand lung capacity is how much you can actually inflate, not how long you can hold it.

09-25-2012, 03:03 PM
My lung capacity always improves over the summer, and gets worse when I'm not on the swim team. xD Personally, I just take really deep breaths through my nose, then let every little bit of air out of my lungs. I do it several times a day, and I've gotten up to a bit over a minute-thirty-seconds.

09-25-2012, 03:53 PM
I was told to get the iphone app "apnea trainer" its basically the ventilate and static breath hold to help you train for a dive. I have found that it works great! worth the .99 cents

09-25-2012, 08:38 PM
That was really really helpful, Derek! I've been practicing my free diving alone (I know its not safe ><; but I do it in the dive-pool with lifeguards watching) and I've been improving alot, but this information is great! Is it strange that I do the 'recovery breaths' instinctively, though? I've always done it, but never realized it until now *_*