Exercises: Why do it? What difficulty?

You probably know, but “training” and progression are not necessarily just a series of deeper and deeper dives. It is usually interesting to see the need to add “exercises.” Dry or in water, these exercises can take many forms. But what exactly is an exercise? How do I recognize a “good” exercise? How can we be sure that he will make us progress? Will a “good” exercise necessarily work on everyone? As you understand, I will try to discuss these famous “exo ideas” and how to use them best. To be more precise, I will only talk about “specific” exercises that aim to work on a particular point and not the concept of “exercise” or “general” exercises that can be a form of “repetition” of the whole dive type “visualization exercises” for example.

What is an exercise and why do it?

Above all, an exercise should be seen as a “simulation”, i.e. it allows you to practice a particular aspect of your dives repeatedly and in isolation without the need for “complete” dives. The more you progress, the more likely you are to need exercises because the number and frequency of your “complete” dives is bound to decrease (physical fatigue and respect for surface intervals prevents us from multiplying deep dives). In addition, some aspects that we may want to improve are often very specific and can concern only a small portion of the dive and it would be particularly expensive in time and energy to be able to rely only on our dives to work these points.

In what situations is an exercise necessary?

Exercise is necessary when you experience a difficulty, blockage or even a simple discomfort (physical or psychological) that does not go away on its own as you repeat your dives. Of course, you have the right to anticipate this moment and include exercises in your training now, but if it’s about working on something you’re perfectly comfortable with, you can probably use that time better and focus on something else!

How complex is a good exercise?

A good exercise should be as simple as possible. The simplest possible in the sense that the efforts you put into its realization go only in one direction. This means that the same exercise is not necessarily suitable for everyone as it depends on what you are already able to achieve in a totally automatic way. If an exercise seems complex to you, it’s probably not done for you yet, so try to break it down to first master the blocks that make up it.

Does an exercise have to be difficult?

In apnea, for the same “base” of exercise, it is often easy to adjust the difficulty by playing most often on time, distance or depth. For example, for CO2-tolerance exercises, it is easy to increase apnea time or reduce recovery time to adjust the difficulty. I know that it can sometimes be tempting to make an exercise difficult or very difficult by thinking that that way the problem will be quickly solved and the progression faster. but this is usually not necessary and can even quickly become counterproductive. Indeed, for it to be as effective as possible, an exercise must be able to combine several characteristics:
1. achievable in full
2. can be repeated
3. Allowing the level of confidence to be ab
le to perform an entire exercise is important because you want to be able to measure your progress effectively. Also if you give up along the way because too difficult, you just won’t want to repeat it, and even if you try to repeat it, it will not be without some apprehension and activation of the “challenge mode” that will be counterproductive. If you find an exercise too difficult, make it easier. Ideally you are looking for a level of difficulty that would be “7/10” ie that before you realize it for the first time, you are pretty sure you can do it but not necessarily in an easy way, you still have a little doubt, a slight apprehension. Once the exercise is done for the first time, if you say something like “Damn I shit” or “too easy your thing”, you can readjust the difficulty level. If you say to yourself “well it was not easy but in the end it could have been much worse”, then you are ready to repeat the exercise with this time the certainty that you will succeed! And you’ll see that this time it will be easier and easier every time you repeat it! This ease and comfort gained must give you some confidence or even a form of “haste” to re-perform a complete dive type “max” with this new acquired skill or ridding of an old gene. So it’s important to let exercise become easier rather than trying to increase the difficulty with each iteration: there’s no point in getting tired mentally, learn to keep, cultivate your desire and maximize your confidence!

How do I find an exercise that’s right for my problem?

First of all, feel free to be creative, with specific problems, specific exercise! The practical and theoretical knowledge provided during the courses (AIDA type) is not just there to allow you to obtain a certification, a “badge”, it must also give you elements to allow you to carry out your own reflections while guaranteeing your safety: develop and maintain your level of education! You can also take inspiration from existing exercises and modify them to specifically target your needs. In general, use the knowledge you have at your disposal and your logic to innovate, you do not have to stay locked in the exercises that were given to you at some point.
Then, multiply the discussions with other apneists, whether in “real” or on a facebook group, do not hesitate to ask the community if you do not know which way to go! I assure you that the community is full of competent people who will be happy to help! And as long as your problem is “rare” or “unique” the discussions it will generate will be even more interesting and may help to advance the sport. If your problem is more “frequent” in the opposite way, many people who have been there will be able to bring their experience. In any case, keep your critical mind and try to understand the “logic” of what will be communicated to you in order to better appropriate the exercises that result from it. And again, don’t hesitate to twist/arrange these exercises if you feel it makes more sense for your particular situation!


Don’t let discomfort be part of your dives: vertical apnea should be easy and enjoyable! If you have a gene work on its elimination rather than your ability to support it. As part of this exercises can be interesting as they will allow you to work on a specific point in isolation and repeatedly without having to perform the whole dive. An exercise is not “good” or bad in itself, what matters is that it is adapted to your situation and targets your problem as best as possible with as little subjective complexity as possible. When the difficulty level of an exercise is adjustable make it possible to find a difficulty that constitutes a balance between challenge and accessibility. Then keep the parameters that make up this level of difficulty to better measure and feel your progress. Indeed, beyond your progress in the exercise which should result in a progression in your dive, you also want to take advantage of the increase in the level of confidence produced by the comfort gained: so much the better if by repetition your exercise has become easy. Finally, feel free to be creative or at least adjust the exercises that are offered to you: we are all different and personalized training will necessarily be more effective!