In the world of freediving (and be sure, freedivers are the most professional breath holders) there are well-known methods to develop breath-holding skills. Some of these methods are built around a series of breath holds and rests — so-called apnea tables. STAmina makes it super easy to do apnea tables by automating countdowns and using voice notifications to guide you.
So what is an apnea table? It is a made up of a serie of breath-holds and recoveries of certain lengths. The lengths of breath-holds and recovery breathings define the purpose of a table. Here is an example of an O₂ table:
(here you can read about the O₂ table as well as about other table types supported by the app.)
A typical training routine starts with a proper body position. It is important to stay as much relaxed as possible during the workout. Any muscle tension consumes oxygen and makes it more difficult to reach long breath-holds. The best body position for a dry static apnea (apnea without movements) is a dead man’s pose, also known as Shavasana in yoga. If, for some reason, you cannot lie on your back and still want to do a training routine (e.g. you’re in an office or in a bus) - sit back in the chair, find a comfortable position where you don’t need to support yourself. Open the app, choose and start an apnea table, put the smartphone nearby so you can clearly hear it.
Any apnea table in the app starts with a breath-up interval. During breath-up intervals do not breathe too quickly (no hyperventilation), inhale with your stomach first then with your chest (deep, diaphragmatic breathing), exhale slowly (double the time of the inhale). Listen for the countdown. About 10-5 seconds before a breath-hold inhale deeply through your mouth and hold your breath. Do not exhale during the entire apnea interval.
The more relaxed you are, the better results you will get. It is good practice to scan your body during apnea intervals looking for muscle tension and trying to eliminate it. Follow the voice guidance throughout the workout.
It is a challenging task for a newcomer to create an apnea table that meets his/her level. Instead of doing that, measure for how long you can hold your breath (Personal Best Attempt function LINK) and then use the Generate function to get suggested tables.
The most popular question that I receive is how often to do apnea workouts. A simple answer is 3-4 times per week is enough to progress quite fast. A more boring answer - it depends on how motivated you are and what is your goal. If you want to hold your breath for 4 minutes - do a couple of weeks sprint with 5-6 workouts per week and you’re there. If you want to push your limits as far as possible, then consistency is your best friend. It is much more beneficial to do 3 times per week for several years in a row, than 7 times per week a couple of months.
A typical training plan for a beginner: Measure for how long you can hold your breath, generate tables and do exercises 3-4 times per week. Retest your PB every 2-3 weeks and generate new tables.