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Part 3: Can I Hold My Breath for Three Minutes?

This is part three of my ongoing series where I try to increase my breath holding times.

First off: I am so sorry for this late update but I’ve been on holidays for the past few days and Medium wouldn’t let me finish my post on mobile. This is a summary of the past twelve days.

The first two days of the last week were actually not that interesting. Happy that I beat my PB the week before I raised the hold times of my CO2 table to 1:04.

My goal for the week was to add a bit of a challenge to CO2 tables, so I added a new breathing exercise right before starting the table:

Breathe 4 seconds in, exhale for 8 seconds (x8)

Breathe 4 seconds in, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds (x5)

Breathe 4 seconds in, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds, hold for 4 seconds (x3)

I feel like these exercises made the CO2 table a little bit harder as I seem to feel contractions more often, which is a good sign since it means that I’m making progress. I’m also working on increasing my hold times to more than 1:05.

On Wednesday last week, I increased my CO2 hold times again to 1:15. It’s a strange feeling, but my contractions are like… gone, until 1:30 most of the time, even when I’m doing a full table with eight rounds of holds. I remember when I started with 40 seconds holds and my contractions were already hard at 0:30. Yay, progress!

The weather last week wasn’t that nice, but I still got myself to go into the water nearly every day. I want to get used to being underwater so I can relax even more. I haven’t done any max breath holds or anything else special underwater though.

On Thursday I did another 1:15 hold CO2 table, relaxed for a bit and went out to try Apnea Walks. There’s a simple explanation for those: Sit down, do a breathe-up and hold for about 30 seconds, then stand up and start walking. Personally, I used a straight line in my garden to see my progress. On my first try, I got like three rounds in, which is not that much. Holding your breath while moving muscles consumes a lot of O2, which makes getting longer times even harder. I haven’t felt diaphragm contractions that hard for a few days now, which impressed me quite a bit.

The good thing about Apnea Walks is, that those also increase my CO2 tolerance and they’re a good variation to my static breath holds. I will try to fit a few walks into my schedule every second day from now on.

Doing my daily breathing exercises already turned into a habit. Next to those exercises, I continue to do a daily body weight workout with a length of at least seven minutes. Most of the time it’s double or triple that length. Even though there are forum threads of people getting headaches or other problems when doing breathing exercises daily I don’t feel any of that – to be honest: I feel great after doing them.

On Friday last week, I boarded a plane from Vienna to Stockholm with my girlfriend to spend a few days together. I already knew it wouldn’t be easy to do as much training as I’ve done the previous week, but I still tried to do at least one table a day.

Since I’m not as relaxed as I am at home and I’m quite busy with sightseeing and other stuff, I didn’t attempt a max breath hold on Sunday, which means I was still at 2:09.

Since I couldn’t really publish the article on Sunday, I decided to just continue my training and post a longer update as soon as I get home.

On Monday, my first two weeks of training were over and I decided to switch to O2 tables. These help to get used to lower O2 levels in the blood and they look like this:

Breathe for 2 minutes

Hold for 1 minute

Breathe for 2 minutes

Hold for 1 minute and 10 seconds

The difference compared with CO2 tables is, that the time I breathe always stays at two minutes. The hold time increases in intervals of 10 seconds for eight rounds and the last round is always 10 seconds above my PB.

I did these tables two times and managed to hit a new PB of 2:40 easily.

Since I was traveling a lot and I didn’t always find time to relax for 30 minutes I had quite a few rest days the past week.

When I got home yesterday, I decided that I will go back to CO2 tables for at least one or two more weeks, since I want to push my CO2 tolerance a bit further. I will gradually increase my hold times from now on and go back to O2 tables later to really push my boundaries.

My goals for the rest of this week:

  • Go back to CO2 tables and increase the hold time to 1:30
  • Go for a real three minute PB (should be easy now, I guess)
  • Extend this challenge with a new training schedule until the end of September