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How Experts do Their Freediving Breath Ups

Updated on July 17, 2014

Introduction to Four Section Breathing

The four section breathing is a bit more difficult than the Yogic Breathe Up, but also leads to better results for deeper and longer dives.

Warning: This explanation is plainly for information purposes. You shouldn't try them until you got a proper explanation and introduction by a professional and licensed Freedive Instructor!

Read the following article first: How To Hold Your Breath For More Than 2 Minutes

While performing this Freediving Breath Holding Technique you mainly concentrate on different sections of your upper body.

  1. Stomach
  2. Mid-section
  3. Chest
  4. Back / Shoulders

Duration of inhalation and exhalation depends on you. You should definitely aim for long and comfortable breathing. Start with filling the air into your stomach and then move to the mid-section of the body. For control purposes you can put your hands on your lower ribs. You should feel the side expansion. Don't worry if this won't happen too much at the first attempts. With practice this area will become more flexible and your coordination does the rest. After you have filled your chest you do a shoulder rolling movement to compress the air in your lungs to get even more inside.

Four Section Breathing Freediving Breath Holding Technique is used in each Phase of this freediving breathe up exercise. Between the cycles you use two or three flushes, which are normal breaths. One cycle consists of

  1. Inhale
  2. Exhale
  3. Flushes

Freediving Breath Holding Technique Phase 1: Agitation

Agitation is performed to loosen up the muscles and bones involved in respiration system and to prepare the lungs for the upcoming breath hold. The cycles are deep and strong. Be careful not to overdo it and start hyperventilation.

Perform 5 cycles of agitation. There is no standard time but consider taking as much time as you need for the cycles. Start exhalation with a quick, strong but short release to relieve internal pressure and continue exhaling until a constant flow finishes.

Do not over-exhale (exhaling after a constant flow has ended, pushing lungs below residual capacity). This can be performed by creating a kind of whistle sound while exhaling. For that just put the tongue onto your front lower teeth to create a kind of valve.

Once the sound stopped the passive exhale has finished. With an O-shaped mouth you can adjust the pressure of the air flow additionally.

Freediving Breath Holding Technique Phase 2: Exchange

The Exchange part affects the body significantly. With the phase before you decrease the CO2 level and increase the O2 level in the body.

Exchange cycles are deep and slow and again flushes are used as well and should be performed 5 times. This is the phase were you fill up the oxygen storage of your body to stay down there longer.

Freediving Breath Holding Technique Phase 3: Relaxation

This is used to rest the body and focus the mind for the upcoming dive. Additionally it lowers the heart rate, too.

Relaxation cycles are performed same as exchange cycles with the difference that the inhalation is not too deep. Ideally done at a maximum of 60% lung volume. Of course this value isn't meant to be precisely measurable. Perform two relaxation cycles before taking the last breath.

Until that point this freediving breath holding technique should take a minimum of 4 minutes. Ideally you are around 5 and 7 minutes.

Freediving Breath Holding Technique Phase 4: Last Breath

After you have successfully performed the last phases you take a very deep and rather short breath.

With practice you'll find the balance between efficiency and not wasting too much time filling your lungs. With the last breath you are filling every section in your body to the top at the outermost. Focus on relaxation especially in shoulder and neck area.

If you are performing this freediving breath up technique in the water using a snorkel the last breath should be finished with that piece in your mouth and removed just after you have finished.

Recovery Breathing, or 50/50 Breathing

After the surface, you immediately start the Recovery Breathing. Make sure that you inhale the same amount of air as you exhale.

Warning: Before doing anything else the Recovery Breath has to be performed on the surface. This prevents from Blackouts or Sambas. Also make sure that you have an appropriate surface time of at least 2 minutes before your next dive.

Four Section Freedive Breathe Up Technique Summary

  1. Agitation - 5 Cycles
  2. Exchange - 5 Cycles
  3. Relaxation - 2 Cycles
  4. Last Breath
  5. Recovery Breath - at least 5 Times

This freediving breath holding technique is suitable for deep dives and bottom time practice. You may consider just performing Exchange and Last Breath Phase to cut the total amount of time once you are experienced enough. If that information was useful to you, sharing on Social Networks is highly appreciated.

External Resources on Four Section Freediving Breath Holding Technique

Breath-Hold Survival Course « Performance Freediving International


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Freediving is breath-hold diving and it is a rapidly growing sport. Snorkeling enthusiasts who wish to breath-hold dive underwater will be trained in the proper techniques to safely engage in this activity. NSU is offering a ...

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