Q&A #5. ''How influential is the cold-bowl breathold exercise to Diving Reflex''

This Q&A session is dedicated to a fascinating topic, the Diving Reflex training.

I have received an email from Pierre from France that asked me about the alternative diving reflex approach.

More specifically, he was wondering about the Bowl-breathold exercise that I have already mentioned, as an alternative method of training, and how positive or influential is the impact on the Diving Reflex (DR) mechanism.

Do you want to learn the reason why I choose to train differently and more specifically why I suggest the Bowl-breathold method for those who don't have access to the pool or depth?

Keep reading!

My experience with alternative training methods

Back in 2010 and 2011, I was struggling to keep my apnea capacity and fitness level as high as possible even through additional exercises and methods of training during the summer season. Unfortunately, due to the closed swimming pool facilities, the only training that I was able to do was a dry-training plan!

The very first thing that did, was tο find an answer to the following question! (I suggest you ask yourself the same question please!)

- What training principles and tools I need to use in my weekly training routine, in order to have the best possible ideal adaptations?

For those of you that have been follow me for a long time, already know that I take the primary training principles very seriously, especially when devising a workout plan both, for my clients or myself.

Bellow, is one of my favourite Gold principles;

'' We need to teach our body to produce energy efficiently under low oxygen environment with the simultaneous activation of economic mechanisms.''

*What does that mean?

*How to teach my body to be more efficient and productive under these hard conditions.

Firstly, we need to deeply-understand the above principle before we start to practice it !


We can create a low oxygen environment on our muscles with some of the following cross-training exercises.

1. Circuit or isolated exercises with high intensity. 2. Spinning apnea bike. 3. Apnea walking. 4. Dry breatholds.


‘’The high-intensity training forces (obliges) the muscles to work with limited amounts of oxygen...

...while increased lactic acid consumption through the anaerobic metabolic energy system’’.

More specifically,

I will make a detailed reference in the next couple of emails in what ways we can activate the economic mechanisms, through use of the above mentioned training approaches.

Αt this moment, I shall mention one last training exercise, ‘’Dry-breatholds, just because the question from Pierre was particularly enquiring on this exercise category.



One of the major positives is that the dry breatholds are a specific exercise which activates to a certain degree the diving reflex, but for sure, we can do some crucial changes which will undoubtedly improve the quality of the stimulus.

To improve the diving reflex activation, I suggest you apply the following options to your dry-breathold routine.

Option 1: Breatholds with reduced air volume, instead of full inhale attempts. Option 2: Full inhale breatholds in a cold bowl. Option 3: Breatholds with reduced air volume in cold bowl.

*Reduce air volume examples;

(passive exhale statics, empty and in some cases reverse-empty lung statics).

The above options and variations are better than usual dry-breatholds, and will positively affect the economic mechanism differently.


1#. My experimentation with empty lung breathlods in a cold bowl water has shown me, dramatically reduced heartbeats during the first 25 seconds , similar to those of three minutes static breatholds with full inhalation.

2#. One of my clients who trains systematically with the empty cold bowl- breatholds, he reported; specifically in the first attempts, that the feeling of his discomfort was much higher than typical empty lung breatholds on the mat.

Due to the stronger activation of DR the discomfort is even worse and much more intense than before! Nevertheless, in the first workout sessions, the temperature might have a negative influence on our sensations and relaxation, but don’t worry! Later on, this is something that you get used to it.


To be honest? No!

None of the above workout examples, even if you take the decision to train the best one systematically and methodically for months, will give you the most positive impact and adaptation.

On the contrary, it is most advised that; a properly customized and periodized training plan is particularly essential, simply because, it will cover most of the aforementioned crucial parameters of training principles and, by extension the economic mechanisms.

I suggest you add this exercise to your weekly training routine for three consecutive weeks at least two training sessions per week. The best thing to do is to experiment and adjust to how your body reacts to this alternative breathold method.

That’s all!

PS 1; If you enjoyed this post, it would be very grateful if you help it spread by emailing to a friend or share it on Facebook!

PS 2; did you find some great strategies of your own training approach in this blog post? And how are implementing them?

Let me know in the comments!


In the next Q&A session, I will post about my favorite Static Apnea strategies for beginners and how to overcome a possible training plateau!

I have already started to write my first pdf e-book about my method of Cross Training approach. The contents are really amazing, and I can’t wait to publish and share it with you!

The only thing that I have not decided yet is the TITLE :-))!

Why not help me find a catchy one?




#DivingReflextraining #Bowlbreatholdtraining #drystatictraining #Crosstrainingforfreediving

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