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View Full Version : Will hypoxic sets improve my ability to swim without air?



__steve__
February 26th, 2013, 07:08 AM
From what I understand, breath control training largely provides little (if any?) physiological training effect other than from the work itself (which is hindered anyway, making it a waste of time for training any of the energy systems).

I assume there is room to mentally adapt and learn how to manage hypoxic suffering. But other than developing a strong aerobic base and increasing level of conditioning, can one actually have room to improve their hypoxic capacity specifically through hypoxic training?

Thank you!

habu987
February 26th, 2013, 09:38 AM
I can't claim to answer this with any sort of scientific accuracy, but I'd say yes.

Back in the day as an age group swimmer, before we started to do hypoxic work, I had to breathe on the first stroke coming off the wall in free. It wasn't that I was dealing with hypoxic suffering, it was that I had to get air. After a few months of hypoxic training (after I moved up groups, my new coach was reallllly into hypoxic work and anything that made you suffer), I was able to make it anywhere from 3-5 strokes off the wall before needing to breathe.

That being said, I don't think I've ever noticed a substantial drop in breathing outside of the turns as a result of hypoxic work--no matter how much hypoxic work I do, I always seem to take approximately the same number of breaths per 50/100 as I do sans hypoxic work. I might take the breaths later in the race, but the number is always about the same, maybe a shade less with hypoxic training.

sunruh
February 26th, 2013, 11:49 AM
this is a very very subjective topic.
it can be argued many ways.
yes it might be possible to aid you in turn work.

i think it helps me some and i have large lungs....measured at 7 liters. i can go 50m underwater on just a single breath from the start.
or i can go 75yds swimming free.

either last year or the year before Tom Shields did a no breather on the last 25 of the 100yd fly at ncaa championships to win it. he said he saw stars after the touch and thats why he didnt look at the scoreboard.
on the opposite hand we have little known Michael Phelps who breaths every stroke on fly.
and there is the tall man Sun from china that trains in australia that takes 2 breaths into and out of the turns of the 1500 and just destroyed the WR at the olympics. nobody has ever been close to his new time. in any type of suit.

so, using the best in the world that has ever swum as a reference....it's a complete toss up!

we are all different, do what works best for *YOU*!

sok454
February 26th, 2013, 12:04 PM
Dumb question but how do you get you lungs measured? A breathing test and then measuring the air pushed out?

sunruh
February 26th, 2013, 02:03 PM
Dumb question but how do you get you lungs measured? A breathing test and then measuring the air pushed out?

at the club team i was on (as a teen) we did underwater weighing to determine body composition (ie bodyfat). to get that you had to do a lung capacity test. how much you inhale - exhale = volume. we did that several times. if a guy was over 14% fat or gal was over 21% fat you were in the running club that was before morning workout. also i was a labrat for U of Irvine/USOC for a whole bunch of tests in '83 that included the same test. we even did a muscle biopsy in our right thighs to determine red/pink/white slow-fast twitch ratios. we also did VO2 max and efficiency on a swim bench. oh and we did this one test that really really hated....lactic acid. where you get your finger pricked every length. after a few days of that you are left with 1 finger that is not bruised and no way to pick anything up. we did that again at the usa junior team training camp in '84. back then there was a big rumor that Salnikov was burning lactic acid as fuel. i remember watching him open a coke and a snickers about 30min before his 800m at the LA '83 meet and then shave a few tenths off his WR.

knelson
February 26th, 2013, 02:32 PM
oh and we did this one test that really really hated....lactic acid. where you get your finger pricked every length. after a few days of that you are left with 1 finger that is not bruised and no way to pick anything up.

We did lactic acid testing in college. Our test was always done in just a single day, but I still remember the finger bruising. I forget the exact protocol, but I remember doing a long swim at around threshold pace, then doing a 200 at maybe 90% effort, another long swim, then an all out 200 free. Our blood was drawn before and after the timed swims, I think.

ElaineK
February 26th, 2013, 02:55 PM
All hypoxic training does for me is give me anxiety attacks and make me HATE swimming. That's saying A LOT for somebody who can't wait to get in the pool every morning :bliss:; even on my 6th day in a row each week when I am pooped.

When I was in high school, I naturally felt best breathing every fourth stroke. Now, I have to breathe every stroke cycle. My coach/training partner writes the sets for us and I always do them side-by-side with him as written, with one exception: On his hypoxic sets, I bilateral breathe; about as hypoxic as I will go. He knows better than to say anything about it anymore to me. :nono: Besides, if he does, it comes back to haunt him when I beat him on backstroke sprints and give him a big :D.

__steve__
February 26th, 2013, 03:11 PM
All hypoxic training does for me is give me anxiety attacks .
If I overventilate before or after hypoxic efforts I get this irregular heart beat that is similar to anxiety or panic symptoms. I found that if I breathe normally, or swim with sufficient air between these hypoxic efforts, it doesn't happen. It initially had me concerned until I figured out I may have been hyperventilating.


Salnikov was burning lactic acid as fuel.Just watched some Salnikov on the old U-tube. His turns were insane. With the underwater footage I quick-click paused his turns. Not sure if he was short on this particular turn but by the time he planted his feet and pushed, his entire axis was already past vertical.

ande
February 26th, 2013, 03:51 PM
Anything you practice is likely to improve.
Many coaches assign breathing patterns on swim & pull sets.
Bergen, Quick, & Reese assigned hypoxic sets, when I swam for them and Whitney does now.
I prefer breaths per length instead of breathing every 3, 4, or 5
we also sometimes do limited breath 25's 50's & up

Breath control is also important for sprints. Fast dolphin kickers go faster when they SDK further, meaning more time under
water & more SDKs which gets difficult at the end of a race & takes conditioning.
In butterfly, when you lift your head you sink your hips and you might benefit from fewer breaths, Austin Staab the American Record Holder in the 100 fly didn't breathe on his last length.

So some

knelson
February 26th, 2013, 04:13 PM
Interesting story and comments on swimswam that's relevant to this discussion:
http://swimswam.com/near-tragedy-in-illinois-reminds-coaches-of-dangers-of-hypoxic-training/

Chris Stevenson
February 26th, 2013, 07:07 PM
If I overventilate before or after hypoxic efforts

Never do this.

Chris Stevenson
February 26th, 2013, 07:17 PM
Interesting story and comments on swimswam that's relevant to this discussion:
http://swimswam.com/near-tragedy-in-illinois-reminds-coaches-of-dangers-of-hypoxic-training/

Always good to see David Berkhoff weigh in on the matter... :-)

__steve__
February 27th, 2013, 07:08 AM
Never do this.Thanks, I will never do this and have not in a long time.

At the time what I believed I was doing was loading my cells with increased levels of O2 which does not really happen. From what I now know, correct me if I'm wrong, is the blood O2 levels don't increase that much by overventillating, but what does change is the CNS becomes short circuited at bogus lean CO2 levels.

I think of it like how an O2 sensor on a car with an exhaust leak upstream effects EFI (electronic fuel inj), the sensor reads inducted O2 (from atmospheric air) upstream at the leak, and the ecu thinks it needs more fuel (carbon).

rtodd
February 27th, 2013, 07:48 AM
I'm not sure if physiologically you can reduce the need for oxygen. In fact many elite swimmers have gone to breathing every stroke becuase the better shape you are in, the more air you can process. Having said that, the hypoxic training will get you used to the discomfort of not breathing when it is most important, coming off the wall and finishing. Also hypoxic training like breathing every5,7, one breath laps, no breath laps, forces you to really concentrate on your stroke to be the most efficient so you can still swim with speed and make the interval.

robertsrobson
February 27th, 2013, 07:59 AM
I would see the primary benefit not being physiological, as I've seen evidence (can't remember the source) that you can't train yourself to not need air, but in learning to relax while under pressure for air, thus working more efficiently.

__steve__
February 27th, 2013, 08:34 AM
Last month I did two 50 fr events within one hour, the second one was a split req. from a 100. The first 50 fr event I took one breath out, and once back. The second 50 fr I forgot to breathe to the wall, breathed once back but dropped my time by 0.45s. I kept this method the following day (one breath back) in a relay and dropped the time another 0.36s. Then 10 minutes later for another relay another drop by 0.05s.

One change that happened throughout the meet was a linear decrease in anxiety, one main contributor of my stress is worrying about my breathing plan, the second was the turn. I believe I can have a better performance through stress management, moreover learning how to do the entire 50 without a breath.

fmracing
February 27th, 2013, 09:29 AM
do the entire 50 without a breath.

I just went back to doing this. It's just soooo much easier than worrying about breathing.

rtodd
February 27th, 2013, 11:56 AM
For a 50 I take one on the way back.

sunruh
February 27th, 2013, 12:25 PM
depending on your speed, some wont need a breath at all on a 50yd free at your ATP stores will last the entire race and you wont even enter the krebs cycle until after you have touched the finish pad. now a few elite (ie biondi's new wr) can do this in the 50m as well. regardless of if your muscles actually need it or not, the burning lung sensation you feel while doing this isnt very mental and very physical. :D

__steve__
February 27th, 2013, 12:29 PM
I want to do a 50 LCM with no air.

Ande, if you read this, do you take any on a LCM?

knelson
February 27th, 2013, 12:30 PM
regardless of if your muscles actually need it or not, the burning lung sensation you feel while doing this isnt very mental and very physical. :D

Yeah, that's the tough part, convincing your brain that your body doesn't really need that air! And maybe that's the where the hypoxic training pays off.

lefty
February 27th, 2013, 02:45 PM
From what I understand, breath control training largely provides little (if any?) physiological training effect other than from the work itself (which is hindered anyway, making it a waste of time for training any of the energy systems).

I assume there is room to mentally adapt and learn how to manage hypoxic suffering. But other than developing a strong aerobic base and increasing level of conditioning, can one actually have room to improve their hypoxic capacity specifically through hypoxic training?

Thank you!

The answer seems to to be only maladation is developed with hypoxic training. Try googling. If you read and interpret the same as me (not saying you will) then you will conclude that hypoxic training is, in fact, bad for you.

Chris Stevenson
February 27th, 2013, 04:48 PM
Hypoxic training is not bad for you if you do it properly.

It is helpful to me to divide hypoxic training into two types: swimming on top of the water while taking few breaths, and doing underwater kicking. Most discussion about hypoxic training really talks about the first of these. Regarding that: Maglischo, "Swimming Fastest," disputes the notion that hypoxic training will produce any benefit in improving aerobic endurance or lactate buffering.


The one adaptation to hypoxic training that surely does take place is an improvement in breath-holding ability (hypercapnia).

So this is his answer to the question that forms the title of the thread: yes, hypoxic sets will improve your ability to swim without air. He goes on to say that only a few weeks are needed to produce a meaningful adaptation in this regard.

A larger question is whether it is a good form of training beyond that goal. I find "on top of the water" hypoxic training useful in two ways. One has been mentioned earlier: to promote efficiency. Another is during taper time, to elevate HR without stressing muscles. Mostly I do this kind of thing during taper and recovery workouts.

Like Maglischo I don't think breath-holding is a very effective way to train to build endurance or lactate tolerance.

BUT: in my opinion if you are serious about developing developing your underwater kick, you have to do it in practice. A lot, which will involve some oxygen deprivation. The primary goal is not necessary hypoxic training per se -- not exactly -- but for people who are faster underwater than on top of the water you will need to develop the ability to stay under longer.

There is no good substitute for actually training for what you want to do; as Berkoff said in the comments on the article linked to earlier, Phelps didn't just decide suddenly to go 15m underwater at the end of at 200 free, when his LA levels were sky-high: he had to train to be able to do that.

__steve__
February 28th, 2013, 08:23 AM
Then this should be a given in my case (the on-top type). As a masters swimmer who does not have any structured training experience, I'll have to approach this cautiously - stuff like this needs to be done under close coached supervision. Definately not in the books when I'm the only swimmer in the pool.

I'll have to guage improvement, hopefuly I hadn't already peaked in this hypercapnic tolerance (ability to swim without air) because I have room for improvement - still take one breath for 50M at any effort. So continued training for about three more weeks, four total in addition to my current week, of 3 - 4 (each wk) painful hypoxic workouts. Any negative effects or a lack of progress will be a good sign to back off down to once a week for maintenence.

I just need to hold my breath for less than 30 seconds, once.

sunruh
February 28th, 2013, 11:13 AM
Definately not in the books when I'm the only swimmer in the pool.

shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

you dont want the usms police on you for this.

__steve__
February 28th, 2013, 02:13 PM
I actually work in the usms police dept and didn't even know about it

Chris Stevenson
February 28th, 2013, 02:57 PM
I didn't even realize the US Meteorological Service HAD a police department. What do they do, chastise weather reporters for bad hair days?

On the bright side, when looking up other organizations with the same abbreviation as ours, I found out we are listed #1 (http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/USMS). I just KNEW we could pull ahead of the Marshal's service if we kept at it! Tommy Lee Jones, eat your heart out.

(As an aside, it appears that Timothy Olyphant, who plays US Marshal Raylan Givens on the show Justified, was a pretty decent swimmer (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=KOUjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vNYFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1144,3842169&hl=en) in his day.)
:hijack:

__steve__
February 28th, 2013, 05:13 PM
Anyway, back on topic:

Some light snow Friday from central MO to much of southern IL with light rain/snow mix a bit more south than that, like OH Valley.
Lake Michigan will expect snow showers from lower WI and northen IL which makes ideal swimming conditions for chaos.

vo2
March 3rd, 2013, 07:02 AM
I have proven to myself with a lot of testing over the years that more O2 gives me the ability to do more work. I'm not a sprinter and focus on 1650 to 5K open water events. I used to think when I got to the end of longer sets like 4/500+ when my muscles were dead or dying that it was b/c they were fatigued, but in point of fact as soon as I went to mixing in some 2:3 patterns all that went away and I got faster. It also ensures I'm well oxygenated heading into my turns so I can break out and peel off 3 or 4 strokes w/o breathing. Now my lungs are what say 'no mas' not my lats. Coach couldn't argue with the results and his 'must do this breathing pattern' mantra slowly became a non issue. Don't be afraid to experiment with breathing patterns! Coaches hate to be wrong and there is nothing more painful for them than to have to back off one of their core beliefs. I understand that I do. The logical fallacy of an Appeal to Authority knows no bounds. Just b/c a coach is on deck with a whistle(position of authority) doesn't mean they can't be wrong and this breathing pattern thing is the one divergence I ever had with my coach.

I suppose if a swimmer has a poor body position to begin with or they fall on their breathing arm when taking a breath then yes more breathing could end up being detrimental and slow them down. Drag is the demon and adding a bit more air may not compensate for the slowing down with poor mechanics.

Think of this: would you hold your breath periodically on a 5K run? 20 mile bike ride?

ElaineK
March 3rd, 2013, 10:00 AM
and this breathing pattern thing is the one divergence I ever had with my coach.


Same here. And, my coach has become a good friend. But, I proved my point to him when I was unable to go past 50 yards of fly holding a breathing pattern of every other stroke, BUT, could swim 2,000 yards of continuous fly when I allowed myself to breathe EVERY stroke. (Thanks to Ande who made the suggestion of breathing every stroke on the fly leg of a 400 IM and on 200 fly, if needed.)

Now, my coach is my training partner twice/week and writes our workouts. On those occasional days when a prescribed breathing pattern shows up for a freestyle set, he understands when I just smile at him and go about my business of breathing every third stroke, at most. :D

__steve__
March 4th, 2013, 07:57 AM
http://usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1505&itemid=4381&mid=8987 (http://usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1505&itemid=4381&mid=8987)

More specifically from information I gathered earlier in this thread, on page 446 of E. Maglischo's SWIMMING FASTEST. He mentions swimmers can quickly develop ability to swim races with fewer breaths.

My birthday is approaching, if I'm lucky enough to be asked what I would like for a gift, maybe I should mention this book.

Chris Stevenson
March 4th, 2013, 09:50 AM
http://usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1505&itemid=4381&mid=8987 (http://usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1505&itemid=4381&mid=8987)

More specifically from information I gathered earlier in this thread, on page 446 of E. Maglischo's SWIMMING FASTEST. He mentions swimmers can quickly develop ability to swim races with fewer breaths.

My birthday is approaching, if I'm lucky enough to be asked what I would like for a gift, maybe I should mention this book.

It is a good book, well worth getting. But just so you are fully informed: that page is the only one that I remember dealing with hypoxic training. (I am on the road right now and don't have the book in front of me.) I recollect he also talks about underwater kicking elsewhere in the book and I seem to recall that he predicted a time when backstrokers (and maybe butterflyers as well) would make use of the full 15m underwater even in longer events. I am not completely sure I agree with that notion, but the only way I can see it happening is by deliberately training for it.