Interview with Sam Blount from Frontline Freediving
Sam Blount from Frontline freediving in Wilmington, North Carolina joins us to share some very practical information for all spearos. Specifically we take a look at the 4 most serious types of injuries and accidents that can happen to spearos and then we scenario plan exactly how Sam would deal with each of these events. He’s a former marine and has designed a trauma kit specifically for spearfishing so this episode covers a tonne of first responder information. As well as first aid we learn a whole lot about African Pompano and Hogfish as well as practical info for getting serious about underwater photography. On a personal level, this episode made me think about how I would respond in some tough situations and also fired me up to hunt AP’s. Let us know what you think in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook here.
What are the three major injuries that can happen spearfishing?
What is the treatment/process for each spearfishing related accident?
What equipment to you need? What gear do you have in the Frontline First Aid Trauma/Response Kit?
What to do in the event of shark bites, massive trauma (boat prop damage etc), burns, broken bones, puncture and stab wounds.
How do you get an injured diver onto a boat?
In the event of an unconscious diver get them to the surface, protect their airway, on the surface get their mask of their face and blow, tap, touch and check response, listen to the episode for more information from Sam
After a blackout or samba the spearfisher should stop diving for the day and be under observation
77:00 What is one of the funniest moments you’ve had out spearfishing?
101 Dry Training for Spearfishing + Cris Dillon Spearjunkies Update
This epiode is a bit different. The first 30 minutes are all about improving your breath-hold using dry training. The second half of the show is a Cris Dillon Spearjunkies Update. These guys are travelling the world seeking 12 species that many of us can only dream about encountering. If you have trouble getting in the water at least a few times a week, then you will take some practical information out of the dry training section to improve your breath-hold. We can all do with more stoke factor and Cris from the Spearjunkies crew never fails to deliver with his stories, this time from adventures in Madagascar and Panama. Listen in!
Wayne is an absolute gun at coaching spearos to improve their spearfishing. This episode has some excellent takeaways for guys wanting to improve their breath-hold, finning technique and become more effective in the water. He achieves these results by getting people into regular pool training using targeted exercises in a 12 week program. This episode we also dig into hunting Dogtooth Tuna. Despite Wayne being self-deprecating with regards to his hunting ability, we get a tonne of actionable intel from him in order to hunt Dogtooth Tuna successfully. Do not miss this episode – subscribe to the Noob Spearo Podcast via the links below. Listen in for some Wayne Judge spearfishing training tips!
The importance of continued learning in spearfishing
In everyday life we place so much importance on continually learning, so why should spearfishing and freediving be any different?
There is always lots of encouragement about taking a freediving course when you first start out, but what happens after that?
I think the time has come where we should put more emphasis on continuing our learning and taking further freediving courses to help further our own progression, whilst learning to do it safely. This not only makes us safer divers whilst learning to push our own limits, but also teaches us how to become an even better dive buddy than we already are.
After doing lots of research, I found that AIDA are at the forefront of freediving and so it was only right that I would then book in with Lucas Handley at The Underwater Academy in Sydney to do my Aida level 2 freediving course.
Image Credit Lucas Handley
Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from the 3 day freediving course
Don’t turn up expecting to have it handed to you on a silver platter
Freediving isn’t an easy sport, and like all good things it takes lots of practice and hard work to take yourself to the next level in your diving. Make sure you come into the course with an open and willing mind. There is so much information that you will learn, and lots of self improvement that will need to be done to help you on your way to reach the bottom times and depths you dream of. Lucas was great at helping me work on things from relaxing my mind, through to keeping my chin tucked in and shoulders relaxed. After lots of dives, guidance and perseverance I was able to get my streamlining down pat and become very efficient with my movements.
Become a deeper and safer dive buddy
In the level 2 course we learnt how to rescue someone from 10 metres. We also learnt how to safely and correctly swim someone back to shore, and how to get them out of the water to give them first aid if they are still non responsive.
These are all vital to learn, and I am so glad that I now have these skills and knowledge as I know that if anything goes pear shaped, I have greater chances of saving my buddies life. Lucas also highlighted many other safety tips for when out spearfishing. My favourite was being a proper dive buddy, and the one up one down technique. As Lucas said “There are 2 fillets to a fish, one for you and one for your buddy”. I think this a great take away as I would much rather share my catch knowing my buddy has my back and I have his, instead of making a phone call to their loved ones saying we have lost them as we all decided to swim off to do our own thing.
“There are 2 fillets to a fish, one for you and one for your buddy” Lucas Handley. Check out this article on why continuous learning is important in your spearfishing https://t.co/4my2iO5uuq
This has to be my favourite thing I learnt from Lucas. Quiet simply put, carbon dioxide building up in our lungs isn’t the nicest feeling in the world, but it is one we should learn to embrace and accept. Lucas was able to pinpoint where I had built a wall of where I would become uncomfortable and decide it was time to come up for air again. He helped me so much to break down this wall, and not only to understand the effects of carbon dioxide on the body, but also how to mentally prepare myself and embrace the experience. It is still something I will continually work on, but it was a great feeling to finally reach new phases in my carbon dioxide experiences.
I learnt so much from my Aida level 2 course with Lucas, and this is coming from someone who has seen and read so many different books, article, and videos prior. I highly recommend you invest your time and efforts back into yourself and your diving as it definitely helps make a world of difference not just to your own diving, but it will also give you great understanding and piece of mind of how to be the best dive buddy you could possibly be.
I could not have reached my goal of diving to 20 meters if it wasn’t for the amazing teachings from Lucas. I highly recommend going to Sydney to do his Aida level 2 course! I am very excited to do my Aida level 3 with him in September.
How can I increase my breath-hold for spearfishing?
Dry training for spearfishing can help you to increase your breath-hold when you consistently practice. When done correctly, dry training exercises can help you to train your body to get used to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) and even reduce your oxygen (O2) consumption. While it’s not a magic bullet, it is a crucial part of improving or at least maintaining freediving fitness, especially when you cant get into the water for awhile. Getting wet everyday is not a reality for most of us that work, have families and deal with classic weather stitch-ups. So this article is an actionable guide to help you start or improve your dry training regimen.
What is in this dry training guide?
Below I will share 7+ exercises for dry training for spearfishing + tools and resources to help you maintain and even improve your freediving performance. The good news is that being landlocked doesn’t mean you can’t train. Some of these techniques are borrowed from legends who have shared their stories on the Noob Spearo Podcast, others come from friends and personal experience. But first….
“Breathing is an easily understood topic. I think I’ll skip a freediving course and just watch YouTube videos….”
– Bill ‘I might die on my next dive because of my lack of knowledge’ Smith
I’d like to tell you that breathing for freedive spearfishing is simple and training is just a matter of getting in the water and having a go, but its not. It’s really not. There are some huge simple things you can do right now to avoid some of the biggest dangers in breath-hold spearfishing but I thoroughly recommend doing a freediving course and learning about the whole breath hold and freediving process.
Holding your breath aka freediving for spearfishing basics
Don’t over breathe
Spend at least twice your breath-hold time on the surface breathing between dives
Always have a dive partner (buddy) in the water (training and spearfishing)
Over-breathing flushes CO2 from your body
Without CO2 your body’s signals to breathe disappear and without this message your body doesn’t get the information it needs to warn you to breathe. Over breathing also reduces your breath-hold time capability. So you have two HUGE reasons not to over breath.
You won’t be able to hold your breath as long and
Your body won’t send you the correct signals to breathe.
Watch this simple 15 minute explanation from Adam Stern to learn more about breathing for freediving (watch till the end!). Over-breathing is commonly called hyperventilation.
Double your surface interval (minimum)
Between dives your body needs to relax and replace the oxygen in your blood. Relaxation should be your primary focus on the surface. One of the most effective ways to do this is using a rate yourself relaxation technique developed by Luke Potts. The technique helps you to understand exactly how relaxed you are before diving. Basically the technique ensures that you don’t dive until you are completely relaxed. Learn more about this technique in the how to spearfish video series here.
Another very effective tool for monitoring your time on the surface is a dive watch. A dive watch will not only tell you the depth of your dive and the length of your dive but it will also tell you exactly how long you’ve spent on the surface which is even more important.
Not all dive partners are created equal
Some of your buddies will shoot more fish than you, others will dive far deeper than you and others you will only see back on the boat.
What type of dive buddy are you?
Here are seven reasons to be (and have) a good dive buddy;
Your mate could save your life in the event of blackout
You could save your mates life in the event of blackout
You land more fish (more fish in the cooler/esky/chilli bin). Second shots save the day.
You can relax more with the knowledge someone’s got your back
Increased visibility – boats and other ocean users can see you easier
You enjoy success together
You observe your buddies good habits and learn
“Your buddy is your only piece of safety equipment” – Simon Trippe
7 Dry Training Exercises To Improve Your Spearfishing
Now that you have some understanding of breathing and the safety basics for freedive spearfishing, I can share some dry training techniques with you. Each technique offers different benefits and some may not suit you or your needs so choose one (or a few) that suit you.
#All breath hold training involves risk. This guide relies on you to apply common sense. Be conservative. If you can’t do that then don’t read any further.
1. The Turtle Walk
Walking point to point while holding your breath – aka Apnea Walk. Have you ever seen someone staring at a point in the distance, shoulders back and walking with bum cheeks engaged? That person probably needed the toilet and this is exactly how it feels when someone catches you using this technique.
The Turtle Walk has been mentioned a few times on the Noob Spearo Podcast. Rick Trippe practices this breath-hold whenever he has to climb stairs but I’m not recommending it to you for safety reasons. However, the apnea walk technique is effective and safe on flat ground provided you remain conservative. Your body will respond to this exercise and your apnea performance will improve from consistent practice. One of the reasons for this is that a slow and steady walk mimics the energy output of finning. For this reason many spearo’s believe that this training is more effective than static breath hold training (static breath hold involves remaining completely still).
Version 1 (distance)
When walking along streets, use a visual marker like a power pole to keep track of your distance. If you use this technique regularly，you can steadily increase the distance as you improve. Running apps like Runkeeper or MapMyRun on your phone can also help you to track distance down to the meter. Use a steady breathing cadence. The means 10 seconds out, 5 seconds in, this will help you to relax. Begin with a full breath hold at your marker. When you start using this technique be conservative and slowly increase your distance over time.
Version 2 (time)
Use a stopwatch to track time. Use this variation to train your body to walk in an economical way. Instead of measuring distance, your focus is total time. As you start walking, begin your relaxation breathing and then hold. While holding, focus on developing an economical cadence. Walk at a pace that covers distance but feels very relaxed and efficient.
When you train in a swimming pool (with buddies) you should also focus on building this steady, relaxed cadence with your finning. It’s about developing a balance between relaxation and covering distance.
Both of these variations can be used in combination with CO2 or O2 training techniques and tables as mentioned below however this not something I will recommend for safety reasons.
2. Making Ads useful – the Couch Potato
Breathhold training need not interfere with the next Cowboys football game. This technique involves holding your breath whenever a TV ad break appears. What would otherwise be an exercise in channel changing can now be an exercise to train your body to respond to apnea. To begin with you might only hold your breath for 1-2 ads but as you practice you can increase this steadily. It’s pretty safe training from the comfort of your couch and you will be making better use of your time.
The main idea of this technique is to use waiting time to improve your freediving fitness. Please don’t use this technique while driving or similar. It’s a good opportunity to use your time productively while not adding unnecessary risk.
3. Watching videos
Deep Spearfishing Encyclopedia’s Hold, Dive, Shoot series. In this series by Anvar Mufazalov’ you can breathe-up, hold your breath and go along with Anvar as he descends to spearfish in the Mediterranean. This is great for practicing your breath hold and you can vicariously experience shooting big elusive fish in deep water. I seem to fail at holding my breath successfully till the end of each video but I like the concept.
4. Full Breath Practice
In a freediving course you will spend time being taught how to fill your lungs properly. This involves a 2 or 3 stage inhale process.
First you fill the the bottom of your lungs. Your stomach will expand without your chest moving during this stage.
After the bottom parts of your lungs are filled you fill your main chest area.
The third and final part involves pulling your shoulders back (a little) and filling the top part of your lungs and throat.
The exhale process is equally important. This needs to be slow, about half the speed of your inhale. Purse your lips together so that your diaphragm (the muscle that powers your lungs) works a little and make sure you breathe all the way out.
The exhale process is equally important. This needs to be slow, about half the speed of your inhale. Purse your lips together so that your diaphragm (the muscle that powers your lungs) works a little and make sure you breathe all the way out to a relaxed exhale or exhale to a comfortable level..
When you are practicing this technique do it nice and slowly to help your body slowly adapt to this technique. It becomes second nature after a while.
Just practicing these full breaths everyday is extremely useful. This practice will condition your body so that your lungs become used to being filled to capacity and this technique is extremely relaxing and scientifically proven to reduce stress.
5. Co2 Training Tables
The urge to breath comes from the buildup of carbon dioxide in your body and not from a lack of oxygen. CO2 training tables are a tool that help the diver to gradually increase their tolerance to higher levels of carbon dioxide and stay relaxed.
CO2 tables work by having a set time for your breath hold (2:00 below) each time. While your hold time stays the same your resting periods of breathing between steadily decrease. Check out this example below from freediveuk.com
In this example you breathe for 2:00 and then hold for two minutes. After that the second breathing period is only 1:45 but the hold time is still 2:00. This continues until you get all the way to a 15 second rest followed by the full 2:00 hold. Brutal!
CO2 Table Variations
Adam Stern has another good video below about training for freediving. He describes a variation of this table that he believes is more effective. Basically its a 4 minute set that continues to repeat. In each 4 minute set you hold and prepare for the next hold. For example; I hold for 2:15, that give me 1:45 to breathe before my next hold (the 4 minute mark). I hold again for 2:20, now I have 1:40 to breath up.
Adam tells us in the video that a table is a sequence of breath holds that slowly stress the body and force to either adapt to increased CO2 or decreased O2. We will explore O2 tables in the next method.
6. O2 Training Tables
Freedivers use O2 tables or oxygen tables to improve oxygen efficiency. This means that your body will learn (and adapt) to use less oxygen when you train using these tables.
You can begin to use O2 tables when you have improved your CO2 tolerance. After using CO2 tables for a while you will start to approach your oxygen limits so this is when oxygen efficiency becomes important.
These tables work similar to O2 tables however they work on a completely different physiological response. Instead of reducing recovery or breathing phases you steadily increase your breath hold times.
This example from freediveuk.com shows a basic O2 Table example
O2 tables train your body to operate with lower levels of oxygen and adapt. For more information on both types of tables listen into this interview with Pete Ryder – Freediving for Spearfishing
7. Vo2 Max training
If you search for the definition of VO2 Max this is what you’ll get.
“VO2 Max is the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise. VO2 Max is used as a way of measuring a person’s individual aerobic capacity”
The simple explanation
“VO2 is basically how efficient your muscles are at using oxygen” – Pete Ryder
VO2 max training is often vetted as the most important factor for endurance athletes but freedivers have another view. Many believe that high VO2 max is counterproductive to freediving as it can increase bloodflow and extend the aerobic phase of a dive which then increases O2 consumption and therefore CO2 build-up. However as spearo’s we engage in an aerobic style of apnea and so having a reasonable VO2 max level is a good thing for most spearo’s. As we require a level of fitness for continual finning and the fact that we do repeated dives throughout a day this type of fitness is important. So having said that, here are a number of ways to increase your VO2 max.
Underwater Hockey provides short, fast bursts of high intensity action that require athletes to hold their breath while strenuously exerting themselves. This is arguably one of the more effective ways for spearo’s to train. Lemaître et al “Physiological responses to repeated apneas in underwater hockey players and controls.” Undersea Hyperb Med. 2007 Nov-Dec;34(6):407-14.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Cycling, HIIT gym sessions, etc
Hill sprints or track work
This VO2 max subject is open to debate among freedivers but you cant argue with better overall fitness and wellbeing. There are also more ways to train for VO2 max however this article has given you some ideas.
For further VO2 max reading
Ben Greenfield one of the world’s most foremost fitness experts says you must train your heart. “Very intense intervals of 1-5 minutes in duration, with a 1:3 or 1:4 work:rest ratio will stimulate a larger heart stroke volume, as well as a host of other VO2 max enhancing adaptations, like increased mitochondrial density and better capillary delivery to muscle tissue”. (full article here)
This article on Vo2 max is short and tells you what it is and how it’s measured
DeeperBlue Forum thread with some good discussion here
Resources for Dry Training and Freediving for Spearfishing
I like the Low 2 app because its currently free, it has both CO2 and O2 tables and you can easily track your progress over time. To learn more check out the iOS store reviews or take a look on Facebook here
While I love free stuff sometimes paying for something means that the people who make it have the time and energy to make something user friendly. Many reviewers say that this app is comprehensive but its glitchey. They also report that the design is not great and its not well set out.
iOS and Android Breath Training App
STAmina Apnea Trainer iOS and Android (price $4.50-$6.00)
This one has O2 and CO2 tables and comes with a recommendation from well regarded spearfishing trainer Simon Trippe. It looks easy to use and has some interesting ‘Wonka’ Tables.
This book caught my attention on a freedivers facebook page. Very good freedivers loved it and a thread with more than 50 comments made me investigate. Dr. Jaap’s methodolgy which includes practical physical training to do on land that will reduce contractions, adapt muscles to hypoxia and even reduce leg burn. Above all that you will learn how your muscles work in conjunction with spearfishing and freediving. Buy it on Amazon here
If you want a deeper technical knowledge of the physiological mechanisms and rationale for dry training then this book is definitely for you. Buy Dry Training for Spearfishing on Amazon here and also look at Manual of Freediving.
This book will teach you all about the importance of breathing. In this book you will learn about how 90% of people walk around unaware of how badly they breathe and how conscious breathing practices can improve you health and well-being. This book motivates the reader to take action and comes highly recommended. Buy Breatheology on Amazon here.
This course is perfect for giving you enough information to get down to 10m or 30ft. It’s a starting point and gives you all the basic techniques to start your spearfishing journey. Equalizing, finning, the duck-dive and basic breathing are covered. Get started free on the taster course and if you decide to purchase use the code NOOBSPEARO to save 20%
This course is excellent for getting you in prime freediving shape (breathing anyway). If you have a big spearfishing charter trip coming up this is a great tool for preparing you! This course is a 30 day dry training system that incorporates CO2 tables, O2 table, relaxation techniques while giving you coaching and providing accountability. Most dry training takes serious discipline and so this course makes that part of it a lot easier. You have a specific goal to aim for, training to help you learn and the exercises and drills to help you get there. Turbo loves this one. Get started free on the taster course and if you decide to purchase use the code NOOBSPEARO to save 20%
Freediving Safety – You will learn the risks associated with Freediving which are real, as they are 50-75 fatalities per year in the USA. You will discover that blackouts can happen on dives even if you feel fine. Lastly, you will learn what to do if your buddy has a blackout at the surface.
Breath Hold Secrets – Here you will learn how to take a 20-30% bigger breath and specific breathing techniques that will lower your heart rate and increase your breath-hold. Then you will determine what is causing your urge to breathe and what you can do about it.
Training Tools – I will share what in my opinion is the most time-efficient and effective way to increase your tolerance to carbon dioxide. I will cover 3 exercises to improve your breath hold as well as how to delay and minimize your contractions. You will learn stretches that can increase your lung volume and the one secret weapon that every single competitive freediver uses to dive deeper and feel more relaxed at depth.
28-Day Weekly Training Plan – I will give you a weekly training plan telling you precisely what to do each week. You will get a PDF you can print and place on your refrigerator to mark your progress.
USE THE CODE noob28 for 15% off
How To Increase Your Breath-hold for Spearfishing Video Course
This course covers many of the fundamentals for developing your breath-hold for spearfishing. The video is 54 minutes long and will give you actionable techniques to improve your breath-hold for spearfishing. I like it because it’s a very practical video directed at also improving your hunting technique within the breath-hold limitations you currently have. He also gives a very good relaxation technique that will help you become better at maintaining good surface intervals. This is a huge winner for making longer dives. Read my full review of the How To Spearfishing Video Series here.
Check out this training video course here and save 10% by using the code: NOOBSPEARO
Dry Training For Spearfishing FAQ
Q. Can Dry-Training increase my spearfishing performance?
A. Good question! Short answer, yes it can dramatically increase your apnea performance. It will even make you a better hunter because you will be more relaxed and not completely focused on shooting something within your limited, neglected spearfishing breath hold. While spearfishing all the time will keep you fit, at some stage you will have at least a few weeks between dives. This is the time to use a few of these techniques to help maintain and even improve your breath-hold.
Q. Why Should I train for Spearfishing?
A. Two reasons are;
Have longer and more enjoyable dives.
Be safer – understand your body and your limits.
Q. Is dry training as effective as pool training or spearfishing?
A. Short answer, no. Training breath hold without being in the water or at depth is definitely second best, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from dry training. People who do yoga and altitude training use breathing specific training for a host of physiological benefits besides improved breath hold so there are tonnes of reasons to do dry breath hold training..
Q. Can we use O2 and CO2 tables together?
A. Pete Ryder from howtofreedive.com does not recommend using CO2 and O2 tables at the same time because they work on different mechanisms. He says focusing on one at a time is more beneficial. “Use the training in blocks, for example do the CO2 tables for two weeks then do the O2 tables for two weeks. I highly recommend not doing the training together even on different days, stick to blocks”
If you have tips for dry training or some questions, please comment below:)
Brandon Hendrickson is known throughout the spearfishing world for his expeditions and the big fish he shoots on these expeditions. What many people don’t know is his ability and passion for spearfishing deep and just how quickly he improved his ability for spearfishing deep. In fact Brandon is now a world title freediver as well as a spearfishing world record holder. In this article we look at how Brandon has become so successful at spearfishing deep.
1.Spend money on improving yourself
“Rather than spending a thousand dollars on another trip to be unsuccessful. I spent a thousand dollars on a training camp. Knowing that my next trip is going to be more probable of being a success was worth it.”
Brandon is a big believer in self-development and a big believer in educating yourself to be a better spearo. It’s hard to argue with a guy that that holds two IUSA world records and is a recent bronze medallist in Free Immersion at the world champs.
2.Breath ups are key to spearfishing deep
“My breathe up’s are no less than twice the length of any dive and very often three to four times that length.” So if I’m going to do a two and a half to three minute dive. I typically try to aim for about an eight minute breathe up between those dives to err on the side of safety but also to err on the side of I’m going to have a more effective dive”
3.Expect to make fewer dives when spearfishing deep
“You have to realise you’re going to have less dives in a day. You’re not going to punch one hundred and twenty dives to 120ft a day. If you’re an animal you might be able to punch fifty dives a day.”
4. Conservation of oxygen
“You’re trying to minimise the amount of kicking and movement you’re going to be doing. Beyond sixty feet you’re going into sink faze around sixty to seventy feet and you’re coasting and either relying on the bottom or you’re relying on your sink rate to control the length of your dive”
You will often see footage of freedivers streamlining and sinking to the bottom without kicking. Brandon uses the same technique when diving deep. It conserves precious oxygen needed for the aspetto and the return swim to the surface.
5. Focus on your return to the surface
“Go ahead and let go of your gun. At depths, nine times out of ten you’re not going to be shooting anything on your way up. Less drag, less weight for you to bring up and take your time coming up. Spend as least amount of energy and be efficient”
Brandon focuses on improving his ascent. The less energy he uses on the way up the better his recovery will be and potentially the more dives he can do in a day.
6. A safety diver is a must for spearfishing deep
“We don’t do those type of dives in poor visibility, that’s something for everybody to keep in mind”
I want my dive partner to be able to see me and I want them following my float line even if I go beyond visibility but if you can’t pick me up by the time I reach about sixty feet and be able to either meet me at depths or meet me at the surface then I’m not going to take the chance of making that dive. So it’s a conversation for every diver to have with their dive partner. I always start those conversations in the planning stages of my trips”
Listening to Brandon it is clear that self improvement through education and freediving courses or simply self reviewing ones technique is important for spearfishing deep. Both myself and Shrek have done freediving courses or some kind of routine training to improve our depth, particularly before a big trip. I personally recommend the courses athowtofreedive.com (use the code noobspearo).
I hope this helps you in some way to become a better safer spearo.