Those of us who live in places where things slow or completely shut down in the winter as far as fishing goes know this pattern all too well. Summer finally rolls around and you start to realize just how much your ability to dive confidently and comfortably has fallen off since the winter. By the time the fishing season starts to come to an end, you were just getting to get back where you were the year before. This process can be a real struggle, and is not uncommon for a lot of divers, especially those living in places like the East Coast of the United States or even right here in California.
Here are five things you can do to help your diving progress even in the winter.
1. Hit the Pool
Staying in the water is a big part of keeping the body mentally and physical conditioned. Pool work with a friend is great option because it seems like no matter where I am there always is a pool available. Whether you’re just swimming laps or working specific breath holding exercises, you really can’t beat time in the water. Why? Well for one thing when you are exercising in the water, you’re not breathing at the same frequency you are on land. What this does is it keeps your body C02 tolerance up, because you are not simply off-gassing the way you do on land. Here are some links for pool workouts.
2. Cardiovascular Activities
Cardio, cardio, cardio! While cardiovascular exercise itself isn’t necessarily going to help you dive deeper or longer, it will extend the amount of time you can comfortably dive. Good physical conditional also helps your body recover faster and bring your heart rate down. There is a mental benefit as well. Being in decent cardio shape helps you mentally as well by helping your mind relax through the dive knowing that you have prepared yourself for this activity.
Some good forms of cardio exercise for freediving or spearfishing include:
Cycling or Stationary Bike
One of the best workouts/activities you can do which combines cardio workouts and pool workouts is underwater hockey. It’s a ton of fun and it will kick your ass in the water!
3. Find a local freediving group
Find a freediving group near you and/or take a freediving class. Even though the fish maybe gone, that doesn’t mean that the ocean is off limits unless of course you live somewhere where the water is not suitable for safe diving. There are a number of freediving groups out there, and most of them are open and welcoming to new members. Having a group of fellow freedivers dedicated to staying active in the sport is key in order to safely train during the off-season. Here are a few references to check out.
4. O2 and CO2 Tables
Another Great way to keep your body acclimated to diving is to continuously practice CO2 and O2 tables a few times a week. There are many apps that you can download to your phone and practice both types of tables. I recommend doing the CO2 table at first, then transitioning over to the O2 table later. One program that I followed and had good success was right here. Just make sure when you are practicing your tables you are sitting down somewhere safe just in case you lose consciousness at any point.
5. Plan a Trip
This does two things:
· Keeps you motivated
· Keeps you diving
If you have a spearfishing trip planned, you are going to be more motivated to train during the down times until the trip. The best thing about booking a spearfishing trip is that you’ll continue to exercise your mammalian dive reflex. This is exactly what your body needs in order to stay in diving shape. For us living in Southern California, Baja is a great way to extend your spearfishing season. Other places include South Pacific Islands like Tonga, Tahiti, or Fiji, and Indian Ocean hot spots such as the Islands in Indonesia and Madagascar. No matter where you are located, it’s always the right time somewhere in the world.