Week 3: The Science of Breath In Free Diving

Apr 16, 2021

I recently finished the James Nestor book I was reading, Deep. It was a quick, easy read that also allowed me to learn a lot about the lives of free divers and how they train, so I would recommend it to those who are looking for something along those lines. Although I did enjoy reading it, the main reason I read this was to learn more about how these divers can manipulate their brains and train their lungs to be underwater at great depths for multiple minutes. The science behind this makes zero sense, and it makes even less sense why these people would willingly risk their lives, but it is mostly explained by their love of the sport. At the beginning of the book, James Nestor starts by explaining how the presence of water almost always decreases heart rate. Scientists put this theory to the test by having volunteers complete quick workouts at the bottom of a tank, and in all cases, the participants’ heart rates still plummeted. This may be explained by the fact that slower heart rates mean using less oxygen, which therefore allows humans to stay underwater longer. Perhaps a study should be done to see if taking a test near the water improves scores. Another interesting finding in the book was the three stages that occur during extreme breath-holding. Convulsions are the first-stage response, but what I found particularly interesting is that if the body is able to withstand these reactions, then it allows for two more stages that don’t need much explanation. These subsequent stages can give the body an extra couple minutes without oxygen. When interviewing a few professional free divers, Nestor found that most experts chant a predive breathing pattern aloud: “Inhale one, hold two, exhale two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten, hold two.” These are just some of the new things that I’ve been exploring this week, along with the Kundalini and the Wim Hof course. 


I will let you know if I learn anything new or notable. Thanks for reading!

One Reply to “Week 3: The Science of Breath In Free Diving”

  1. Matthew S. says:

    The science of breathing and the different ways people use it to assist in their field is something I’m enjoying to learn about! I’ve never thought of breathing to be anything similar to muscles but from your writing I’ve learned its something that can be trained and is probably significantly different between people like us and professional free divers. Looking forward to learning more about what seemed so simple!

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