How to Hold Your Breath Longer

You’re in a survival situation. For whatever reason you need to hold your breath for as long as possible, but how do you do it? Here are some tips on how to use the human body and water’s properties to stay underwater longer than normal.

The “how to hold your breath longer underwater” is a tutorial on how to hold your breath for longer periods of time. It will teach you about the different ways that you can do this and what the best methods are.

Deep sea free diver.

Thousands of years before SCUBA or even primitive mechanical diving devices, humans ploughed the ocean’s depths with little more than discipline and a single massive pre-plunge intake of air.

Ancient fisherman, pearl hunters, sponge gatherers, and shipwreck salvagers taught themselves to fight the all-powerful impulse to breathe so they could remain underwater for minutes at a time to earn a livelihood and feed their families.

Even now, there are pockets of individuals who continue to practice unsupported deep-sea diving. For example, the Bajau, also known as Malaysian and Indonesian sea nomads, are famous natural freedivers. They’ll dive to more than 65 feet and remain under for up to five minutes, fishing and collecting cash thrown into the sea by visitors.

Aside from the divers who risk the underwater depths for a livelihood, there’s a tiny group of renegade athletes who would freedive to 50 times the depths of an ordinary swimming pool…just for pleasure.

Freediving is a fun activity to participate in.

Journalist James Nestor takes readers on a close-up tour of this truly spectacular competitive realm that challenges the limits of human potential in his book Deep. Divers will dive to depths of 300 feet on a single breath, attempting to capture a flag that hangs at the bottom of a long stretch of rope. At such depths, the water pressure is so intense that the lungs shrivel to the size of softballs. However, these people have managed to train their bodies to resist the torture and return to the surface alive. It takes over four minutes to get down and back, and they do it all in one breath.

I wanted to try how long I could hold my breath after reading about these incredible feats of apnea. I sat back in my chair, took a big breath, and pressed the start button on the timer. I began to feel uneasy after 30 seconds, but I battled through it. The minutes ticked away slowly. I felt like I had been holding my breath for about three minutes. I glanced down at my timer when I finally had to gulp for breath. One minute and thirty seconds has passed. Halfway down to 300 feet, I’d be dead.

So I went out to test how long I could hold my breath. Why? I’m not planning on diving for pearls, but who knows, maybe one day I’ll be trapped on a wrecked cruise liner and have to swim my way to safety through an underwater labyrinth. You never know what may happen. To be honest, it simply looked like a fun talent to perfect. So I began practicing and worked on it.

I’ve successfully utilized recommendations from deep-sea freedivers to increase my breath holding ability to three minutes. (I’m going for Harry Houdini’s record of 3 minutes and 30 seconds next!)

Obligatory Warning: Holding your breath for an extended amount of time might be hazardous. You’re denying your body of the oxygen it needs to operate by holding your breath. It’s not uncommon to have a blackout. When you hold your breath, you’re likely harming brain cells, much as when you scent Sharpie markers. Do not do this in the water under any circumstances, particularly if you have never done protracted breath holding before. Do it in a secure environment with others around. Alternatively, don’t do anything at all.


With that in mind, let’s look at how a deep-sea freediver holds their breath.

Don’t exhale too quickly!

My friends and I used to compete in breath-holding competitions in my neighbor’s pool, as do most youngsters. Hyperventilating shortly before going underwater was a method we all utilized to lengthen our time.

Many freedivers and spear fishers were trained to lengthen the duration of their breath-hold in this manner a few decades ago. And magician David Blaine used a similar method to prepare for his attempt to break the world record for underwater breath-holding.

Most professional and competitive deep-sea divers have avoided hyperventilation in recent years for a very good reason: it may kill you.

Most people believe that hyperventilation permits you to hold your breath for longer because your blood is saturated with new oxygen. The longer you can hold your breath, the more oxygen there is in your blood. And there’s some logic to that way of thinking. According to studies, those who breathe in pure oxygen shortly before holding their breath may considerably increase the amount of time they can hold their breath.

When you hyperventilate, however, this is not the case.

Hyperventilation, on the other hand, deceives your body into believing you have more oxygen than you really have by lowering CO2 levels in your bloodstream.

The oxygen you take in is transformed to CO2 when you breathe. When you hold your breath, CO2 builds up in your system, and when it reaches a critical level, you feel compelled to take a breath and receive some fresh oxygen into your system. You lower the quantity of CO2 in your blood when you hyperventilate, but you don’t increase the amount of oxygen. The body’s “need to breathe” reaction is delayed much beyond the time when it should have been activated because of the decreased CO2 levels. In other words, the reason you can hold your breath longer when you hyperventilate is due to a drop in CO2, not an increase in oxygen.

Hyperventilating not only decreases the quantity of CO2 in your system, but it also limits the amount of oxygen accessible to your muscles and organs. Because your blood contains less CO2 as a result of hyperventilation, your alkalinity levels rise. Because of the increased alkalinity, hemoglobin binds too tightly to oxygen molecules in the blood, preventing those molecules from being released to the muscles and organs.

As a result of the reduced CO2 levels, hyperventilating causes a malfunction in your body’s fuel gauge: you believe you have a full tank of oxygen, but you’re really operating on E.

All of this often results in an unexpected loss of consciousness, which is known as “shallow water blackout” in water. If this occurs, the person must be rescued very once, otherwise their body’s natural instinct to breathe may kick in, causing them to inhale water and drown. Lifeguards are tightening down on underwater breath-holding competitions since shallow water blackout has become such a concern at many pools and water recreation places.


Bottom line: If you want to hold your breath longer, don’t hyperventilate. It has the potential to kill you.

How to Get Better at Holding Your Breath

So, if hyperventilating isn’t an option, how can you hold your breath for a longer period of time? You put forth the effort.

Deep-sea freedivers do it this way:

Learn to Take a Deep, Full Breath.

Take a deep breath and relax. Did you notice a change in your chest and shoulders? Yes? You’ve just failed to take a breath. When you breathe, your chest and shoulders lift, indicating that you’re just using the upper half of your lungs.

You must learn to employ the complete capacity of your lungs if you want to store more oxygen for your deep-sea diving breath-hold. The diaphragm is the starting point for a proper breath. If your belly button moves up and down instead of your shoulders, you’re breathing properly.

Take a full, deep inhale through your mouth, and see your lungs filling up from the bottom up. Your lungs gradually fill towards your diaphragm. By your sternum, you can feel the air filling your lungs. Finally, fill your lungs all the way to the top of your chest. You’ve successfully taken a full, deep breath – the kind you’ll take just before starting to hold it. Your deep breath should take 20 seconds, according to freediver Hanli Prinsloo.

Start putting it into practice. In fact, make these belly breaths your default breathing pattern. It will make you feel like a million dollars, and it will also increase the quality and beauty of your voice.

Know What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Take a Breath

When you hold your breath for a long time, your body goes through three phases, according to Prinsloo. Because of the CO2 buildup in your system, you’ll feel compelled to take a breath, and if you don’t, your diaphragm will begin to convulse. “No, but honestly, you’ve got some significant CO2 building up here, and you’ve got a few minutes until you really need to breathe buddy!” says your body.

However, you can prepare yourself to combat the convulsions. If you succeed in the first step, your spleen will discharge up to 15% more fresh, oxygen-rich blood into your circulation in stage two. This normally occurs only when the body is under stress in humans, but researchers think it might possibly be a mammalian diving response. Seals and whales, for example, are constantly exposed to this “spleen vent.” The spleen is sometimes referred to as a biological SCUBA tank because of this. The body settles down as this oxygen-rich blood enters the system, and a deep-sea freediver will typically experience a burst of energy.

Blackout is the third stage. Because your brain consumes roughly 20% of your body’s oxygen, it will simply shut down if there isn’t enough in your bloodstream. If this occurs when a diver is submerged, the diver will end up in a watery grave.


Deep-sea freedivers learn to listen to the signals their bodies provide in order to schedule their dives via training and conditioning. They know they can battle through the convulsions and be OK, but that they only have a few minutes before they need to breathe. They’ll start planning their ascent as soon as they sense the rush of oxygen from the spleen vent, so they don’t black out while underwater.

You’ll begin to identify these indications in your body as you learn to hold your breath for longer and longer lengths of time. Recognize that you can push through the spasms and be OK, but that you only have a few minutes before you’ll need to take a breath.

Static Apnea Tables with CO2 and O2

Deep-sea divers employ “static apnea training” to prepare their lungs and bodies to tolerate the consequences of extended breath-holding. The term “static” alludes to the fact that you won’t be swimming or moving your body throughout these workouts; instead, you’ll be standing stationary.

There are two laddering programs: one helps you raise the quantity of oxygen your lungs can store, while the other helps you train your CO2 tolerance.

Tables of CO2

CO2 tables train you to get used to CO2 building up in your system without the need to take a breath. A sequence of breath-holds and rest intervals alternate throughout the workout. Your lungs will be burning by the time you finish your exercise session.

An example of a CO2 static apnea table is as follows:

Round 1 Hold 1:00 Breathe for 1 minute.
Round 2 Hold 1:00 Breathe for 15 seconds.
Round 3 Hold 1:00 Breathe for one minute.
Round 4 Hold 1:00 0:45 Breathe
Round 5 Hold 1:00 0:30 Breathe
Round 6 Hold 1:00 0:15:15:15:15:15:15:15:15:15:

As you can see, as the session proceeds, the rest times get shorter and shorter. It’s vital to merely breathe properly throughout your rest time – don’t hyperventilate! Begin with a breath-hold time that is comfortable for you. It’s alright if it’s just 30 seconds. Simply add 5 seconds every day. Don’t do two sessions back-to-back; instead, spread them out. Make one in the morning and one in the evening.

O2 Tables

While CO2 tables prepare your body to cope with high CO2 levels, O2 tables prepare your lungs to store more oxygen and your body to function at lower levels. Your breath holds will become longer with O2 tables, but your rest periods will remain the same.

An example of an O2 table is as follows:

Round 1 Hold 1:00 2:00 Breathe
Round 2 Hold 1:15 2:00 Breathe
Round 3 Hold 1:30 2:00 Breathe
Round 4 Hold 1:45 2:00 Breathe
Round 5 Hold 2:00 2:00 Breathe
Round 6 Hold 2:15 Breathe 2:00

Simply breathe normally throughout your relaxation intervals. Begin with a 30-second or one-minute breath hold and gradually increase by 5 seconds with each session. Space out your sessions, just like you did with the CO2 tables.

On the same day, you may perform both CO2 and O2 sessions; just make sure they’re separated by a few hours.

It should go without saying, but static apnea training should always be done in a safe setting and never in water.


Finally, maintain as much stillness as possible.

Because movement consumes oxygen, staying as motionless as possible allows you to hold your breath for longer. Holding your breath while swimming to a depth of 300 feet is a whole other game with its own set of skills!

But at the very least, you’ve learned how to hold your breath like a deep-sea freediver. Take your time, don’t hurry, and most importantly, don’t make a fool of yourself!

But at the very least, you’ve learned how to hold your breath like a deep-sea freediver. Take your time, don’t hurry, and most importantly, don’t make a fool of yourself!


James Nestor’s Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves

Hyperventilation’s Risks



Watch This Video-

The “how to hold your breath longer for freediving” is a technique that is used by people who are trying to go deeper than they normally can. This technique has been used since the beginning of time, and it will help you achieve more depth in water.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a average person be able to hold their breath?

A: This is going to vary depending on the person. Some people are great at holding their breath for a long time and some have trouble staying under water for more than 30 seconds.

Is holding your breath for 3 minutes good?

A: 3 minutes is an average time. Its not recommended to hold your breath for that long, as you may experience some side effects such as dizziness and shortness of breath. If you want a more accurate answer on how long it would take for the air in your lungs to run out, please consult with a doctor.

Can you hold your breath for 2 hours?

A: I can hold my breath for 2 hours, which is the legal limit of how long its allowed to be on a deep sea dive.

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