Q&A #3 - FRC and Apnea walking. Good or not for DYN and Depth?

Question by Daniel, Brazil

''FRC and apnea walking training approach is good for dynamic apnea and depth diving?''


The workout with passive exhalation (FRC) is a very good training method to quickly improve your tolerance to low O2. Periodically, within my annual preparation cycle, I choose to train by performing various apnea sets with passive exhalation or even full exhalation.

I usually prefer these sets to take place in a pool since the workout gains a specialized relevance. I have noticed that the training in the water is irreplaceable and certainly more effective than dry or any other form of training that takes place outside of water. If you want to become good with dynamic apnea, you should practice dynamic apnea at least during most of your weekly training, if not throughout all of it.

''Every activity creates a stimulus of adjustment which past a point is completely targeted''

For example, if you want to become good at apnea walking, continue to practice apnea walking!

Some personal observations:

The adjustments you will experience through apnea with passive or full exhalation are numerous. Besides your body’s direct exposure to a hypoxic environment which will create a stimulus for a more rapid erythropoiesis response in blood (more red blood cells in a short time), you will also experience some indirect adjustments such as:

  • Increase of the rib cage elasticity during the first four weeks (personal observation)

Greater mental focus during strong hypoxic stress (during the last meters of a big attempt)

Minimization of trachea injuries (due to elastic rib cage and general elasticity)

  • Better management of the equations and control of mouthfill.

All the above are personal observations of the adjustments that my students and I experience through trainings with passive and full exhalation (FRC or empty Lungs - training).

Besides your body’s direct exposure to a hypoxic environment which will create a stimulus for a more rapid erythropoiesis response in blood.

Below I will present some of my favourite apnea workouts with exhalation, which I am sure will provide you with quick and spectacular results both in the overall performance of your apnea and in depth training.

#1. Dry training - Spinning Bike

After a standard warm-up(ex. 5-6 minutes easy spinning)you perform:

  • 8 - 10 X 15-2O’’ FRC with active recovery of 90’'


Perform one minute cycles for eight to ten sets during each workout Your aim initially is to increase the apnea time in each set and not the number of repetitions. An increase of 3-5 seconds per repetition (apnea) is considered ideal. The pedalling rate remains constant throughout the duration of the set.

In the next stage, i.e. after a few weeks that you have adjusted and you can easily achieve the times, you can switch the sets by performing,

one cycle with passive exhalation and one with full exhalation.

More specifically:

Perform 8-10 repetitions as follows:

  • 1 x 15'' / passive exhalation / active recovery of 45''

  • 1 x 10-15'' / full exhalation / active recovery of 45-50''

The pedalling speed in this phase may be increased during the active recovery in order to make the set even more difficult. Thereby you force your quadriceps to work under severe hypoxic conditions.

#2. Dry Training - Apnea Walking

This workout can be performed anywhere you can walk comfortably without being bothered. At the beach, an athletic field, even on the treadmill in your own house.

Initially I would recommend you to start with the following program:

  • 3-5’ speed 4-5’ as warm up

Basic set:

8 to 12 repetitions of 15’’ with passive exhalation and active recovery of 60 ''

  • 8-12 x (15'' FRC - 60''recovery)


To make the set a little harder, after a few days of adaptation to this program, start gradually performing efforts with full exhalation. Such a set could be:

8-12 set;

• 1x15'' FRC - 60'' recovery• 1x15'' empty - 60'' recovery.

However, if you are familiar with the two preceding routines (times and repetitions), I would suggest you include the following workout on a treadmill which is my favourite in terms of apnea.

After completing each apnea (FRC or Empty) increase the speed of the treadmill to 9-12 and perform jogging for 45-60''. Later, reduce the speed for 90'' of recovery.Perform this program for 8-12 repetitions and at the end add about 3-5 minutes of recovery time (slow walk).

#3. Pool Training - Dynamic apnea

After a standard warm-up which may include 5-10' of muscle stretching and swimming at a slow pace, start performing:

  1. 12 to 14 repetitions of 25 meters with passive exhalation at a moderate speed (50-60% of the sprint). The break in-between the sets should be about 45-60 seconds.

  2. After 1-2 weeks, I would recommend to make the set a little more difficult by keeping the sets and repetitions fixed and this time performing one attempt with passive and one with full exhalation.

As weeks pass by you will be able to do some additional difficult changes. Gradually increase both repetitions of reps, for example from 14 to 16, etc., as well as the number of attempts with full exhalation.

''As a result, at the end of your training you will have managed to provide a stimulus that is more hypoxic compared to your previous workout.''


1#. In my opinion, workout with passive exhalation is a very powerful tool in the hands of every free diver who has demands and wants better performance. However, we should perform it with caution and prudence, as it can prove to be dangerous and harm us since it is not undertaken in a controlled environment (fall of a bike, hypoxia etc.).

2#. Apart from the risk factor, I would draw your attention to the signs of fatigue that may occur from prolonged exposure of your body to FRC workouts. Personally, I take a break of 7-10 days after a 3 week training cycle with difficulty and intensity fluctuations (3:1).

I would recommend that you begin performing a two week cycle with one week of active recovery (2:1) which may include some other form of exercise (swimming, running, climbing) or a different type of stimulus such as hypercapnic training of low intensity, swimming workout without apnea, depth training in form of snorkelling etc.

I hope I was clear with my answer to your query and helped you to understand how the exhalation workout (FRC,empty) affects our body directly and indirectly. Implement one of the above training systems and I would like to hear your feedback after some time!

Always open to your questions and annotations!

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