Why I don't warm up for my deep dives
We all got taught in our first freediving courses that warm ups are good. They will help us to put our mind into the right place, allow us to check that equalisation is OK and awake the mammalian dive reflex. But if you think about it, none of these reasons hold up to scrutiny.
If decide to do a depth, then it's because your training has steadily lead you to this point and you know that you can do it. Doing a few warm ups wont teach you anything you don't already know. Plus if you have progressed responsibly you should be confident enough about the dive to get your head into the right place without warm ups.
Doing warm-ups to check your equalisation doesn't make sense either, if you dive without a warm-up you will find out about your equalisation just the same as if you do a warm up first. Some people say that they do there warm up to practice their equalisation, but if you can't equalise 20 minutes before your deep dive, you won't learn it during your warm ups.
Warming up to awaken the mammalian dive reflex is another common reason. But it is widely accepted now that diving with no warm-up will give you a much stronger dive reflex because you have shocked your body and it "overreacts". Meaning your Brandycardia, blood shift and peripheral vasoconstriction will be stronger. The down side is the red blood cells released by your spleen will not be oxygenated, but the spleen effect in humans is so small that it doesn't count for much in regards to our freediving.
Now we know why warming up does you little or no good, lets discuss how they may actually be harming your diving.
I have spoken before about how tiring diving is for your entire being, so by that logic we know that every dive that you do before your deep dive is only making you weaker. Which is of course not what we want for a big dive or a PB, you need to be as strong and fresh as you can be to perform your best. No warm up's ensure this.
When I was doing warm ups, I found that they were sometimes effecting my psyche in a negative way. For instance my first dive would be a hang around 12m, but if that dive felt tough or I couldn't last as long as I did on other days then the little devil in my head would be telling me that today is a bad day, I shouldn't go deep, maybe freediving isn't for me! So I was starting my deep dive with 1 or 2 bad dives already behind me and having to try and get over it during my breathe up. In all honesty since I have stopped warming up, I haven't had a dive that felt as tough as some of my old warm-up dives. I will admit that it is also due to breakthroughs in all aspects of my diving but not warming up has only effected my psyche positively.
Diving close to your limit requires you to put your mind in the right place and keep it there, and we all have our routines to do that. What I have seen is the shorter and less strenuous/strict that routine is, the less chance that diver has of getting psyched out before his/her deep dive. For instance, imagine if Joe's routine MUST be - diving in the morning without eating first, a 2 minute hang, a slow FI to 20m and a 6 minute breathe-up with a noodle lying behind his head while on his back. Now Imagine that Joe is diving in a place that has bad conditions in the morning, so he has the choice of eating in the morning or starving until the conditions clear up. Or if the water is choppy so breathing up on his back means waves are splashing on his face and going into his mouth. Or he is in competition and only has 3 minutes to get ready on the dive line. You can see that he has given himself a routine that has many weak points that can go wrong and possibly psyche him out for his main dive.
Whereas my routine is diving on an empty stomach (any time of the day), gentle Pranayama and stretching at some point within 2 hours of my dive (on shore or on the boat) and a 2 minute breathe-up in whatever position the conditions allow for. As you can see, there is very little that can go wrong in my routine. I can dive at any time of the day and in any conditions (within reason).
If you are convinced and would like to try no warm-up diving then here are a few pro tips.
Don't go straight for a PB, like any time you make a major change in your diving you should drop the depth back and build up slowly again because you have now changed the parameters of your diving.
Some people may tell you that you will feel the urge to breathe sooner with no warm-up diving. This has not been the case for me or any of the people I have converted so don't worry too much about it.
Having a stronger dive response will mean you will be less likely to suffer from a lung squeeze, but this will only work so long as you are relaxed enough not to compromise your residual volume with pressure contractions, tension in your stomach etc. and it is most definitly not a instant fix.
No warm-ups are only recommended for people who already spend a lot of time in the water training and have a strong dive response already.
Make sure you have a regular lung stretching routine and have stretched before the dive.
I hope you guys enjoyed this week's blog, I would love to hear about your experiences with no warm-up diving in the comment section below.