Freediving Training Exercises: Morning Routine (also pre-dive routine)

Many students have asked us to write down the morning routine that we do here at Freedive Gili as a warm up for freediving and also as a daily stretch. Just as a reminder there are several good reasons for having a morning routine. Firstly it is for thoracic stretching, the more flexible your thoracic area is the more you should be able to inhale with a maximum breath.

The routine also includes empty lung stretches which are equally important in maintaining our flexibility to compress at depth and hopefully reduce our residual volume. Secondly it wakes your body and mind up in the morning and tunes you in to how you are feeling prior to your freediving session. Finally it helps to steady the mind and prepare us mentally before a performance. If we are used to doing a warm up routine and associate it with diving well and strong performances then it helps to trigger the right thoughts and prepare us mentally before deep dives or long breath-holds.

It doesn’t have to take long, 15-20 minutes can be enough but sometimes you want to add more, other times do less.

Daily morning routine

(Sitting Cross Legged on the floor)

Spinal rotations (Sufi Grinding)

Movement – Place your hands on your knees and rotate your chest, arching forwards as you breathe in and then continue the rotation breathing out as you start to round your back. Continue with these circles trying to keep the top of your head over the base of the spine as you rotate, drawing big circles with your chest, letting the chest push forwards and open up with the shoulders back on the forward rotation, and letting the shoulders come forward with the back rounded on the backward movement.

Breathing – Inhale as you come forwards, exhale as you go back

Static stretch with arms above head

Breathe in fully (2 section breath) and hold your breath as you reach the arms above the head, hands together, trying to keep the arms straight, and the elbows next to the ears. Continue with the hold and stretch until you feel the urge to breathe.
– Contract Jalandra Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Mul Bandha whilst performing the stretch.
– Have one hand over the other in the monofinning hand position during the stretch.

Spinal flexes

Movement – Place your hands on your knees and arch your chest forwards letting the shoulders drop back, opening the chest as you breath in, then let the shoulders come forwards and arch your back the opposite direction, rounding the back as you exhale. Be gentle to start with to allow the spine to warm up.
Breathing – Inhale as you come forwards, exhale as you go back

Static stretch with arms above head (as above)

Spinal twists

Movement – Place your hands on your shoulders, thumbs facing backwards. Twist to the left as you breath in and to the right as you exhale. Repeat the movement, gently at first as you warm up and letting the range of movement gradually increase. Let the head follow the shoulders around also.

Breathing – Inhale to the Left and exhale to the Right

Static stretch with arms above head (as above)

Neck Rolls

Gently let you head drop forwards allowing the weight of your head to stretch out the back of the neck. Roll your head around to the left and let your ear drop towards your shoulder, then continue the roll until you are reaching your chin high (not compressing the back of your neck) and around to the other side again allowing the ear to drop towards the shoulder, and finally back to the front. Continue this slowly for three times and then change direction for another three times.

Side bends

Breathe in full breath (2 section) and hold. Lean your body to the left side using your left hand to steady or support yourself on the ground. Your right hand should be straight and reaching over your head to the left side. Keep your seat planted on the ground, do not let your bum cheeks raise. Exhale as you release the stretch. Repeat this to the right side. Two times each side.

Breathing exercises

Diaphragmatic breathing only – 2 to 3 mins to tune in to your breath and relax.

Diaphragmatic and chest (2 section breathing) – 5 mins.
Full breaths, using the breaths to stretch out the chest from the inside.
(For Level 2 Freedivers can be 3 section breaths)

4 Section breaths – 3 repetitions
Maximum inhalation and hold for a few seconds.

Pack Stretching (SSI Level 3 Freedivers)
Maximum inhalation plus packs. Three repetitions increasing the number of packs a little bit each time, holding the packed air for a few seconds only.

Empty Lung Stretches
Fully exhale leaning forwards to push all the air out of the lungs, down to residual volume. Sit back upright and pull your stomach in, lifting the diaphragm as high as you can in to you ribcage and hold this position, stretching the diaphragm upwards.
Do this five times.

Sun Salutation stretches. Three repetitions.