This is the #1 most common question I am asked, so I decided to write out my answer in hopes that it will help. The answer to the above questions is both yes, and no. First I will address the reasons why, yes, it’s perfectly fine to use whatever equipment you already have to go blue water spearfishing. After I answer the reasons it’s ok, I will than address the reasons it’s not ok. Here we go…

Many people are unsure of what lurks in the deep unknown, how big and powerful the pelagic fish really are, how aggressive and how plentiful the sharks really are, so on and so on… So, my take on it is this, for a “little while” it’s ok to use whatever equipment you already have just so you know what you are getting yourself into. That way you don’t spend a bunch of money and than realize you don’t ever want to do it again.

What you may also realize after using your regular equipment to try and shoot blue water fish is how different and difficult it may be compared to what you are use to and what your equipment was intended for at the time you originally purchased it and for what geographic area of the world it was intended for. For example: a diver comes from California and he likes to Abalone dive and spearfish on scuba and occasionally freedive spearfish. The water in Cali is roughly 50 degrees with 5-20 foot visibility. In Hawaii the water temperature is 70-83 degrees with 100-200 foot visibility. That right there is enough reason you should understand that a different wet suit will be necessary for the different waters. Typically a 7mm suit for California and a 3mm suit for Hawaii. Again, you can use the 7mm in Hawaii if you want to. Because of the visibility, a speargun used for California is typically going to be “small,” 50cm-75cm, while a typical speargun to be used for blue water spearfishing in Hawaii is 120cm-160cm.

The typical set-up for blue water is a minimum of a speargun 110cm (55 inches) or longer with two (2) 5/8 diameter bands, a good quality float line and a very good quality float. A life guard float is NOT a good float for blue water nor is a $20 float from Walmart. Long blade fins are strongly recommended but not “required.” A wetsuit is also strongly recommended but not required. A dive knife is recommended as it works better than harsh language against a shark, but a knife is also helpful for numerous other uses. Gloves are another important item to have.

So, here’s the reality of using what you already have; you save money. The reality of saving money, you will not get the full experience. A 7mm suit is going to be extremely hot, like wearing a wool sweater in a warm climate. A 50cm-75cm gun is for rock fish that don’t move, not large open water fish with a necessary shooting distance of 15-25 feet. Again, you can do it, but you will likely not be able to shoot anything. Really.

Come for the experience with the gear that you have. Or upgrade your equipment and that way you are ready for anything. Fishing is fishing so nothing is guaranteed, like any kind of hunting, but sooner than later it WILL pay off.

Also, don’t forget that our charters include all necessary equipment for spearfishing in Hawaii! So if you’re thinking about lugging your equipment on the plane with you, save yourself the hassle. We’ve got you covered.

Dive safe,
Rob White

The Real Question:

You want to make a billion bucks? Invent a pill that increases your lung capacity and puts you in perfect condition and shape without any negative side affects. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to stick to the old fashioned method and bust our butts for months to gain even the slightest amount, and lose it in the one week we take off to go visit grandma. You gotta love the human body for that reason…

At the risk of sounding like I’m babbling I need to tell you a few other things before we get started.

  1. If you read, or better yet, try these techniques and hurt yourself doing them then you need to go back to your desk job and quit all physical activity. This is simply a proven “GUIDE” to help you improve what you can already do. If you desire a world record then you need to seek professional training.
  2. The idea behind this training segment is NOT to encourage you to pursue a world record. Again, it’s simply a guide to help you reach your own, individual, personal goals otherwise known as your PB (Personal Best).
  3. These breathing exercises are to be used on land. NOT in the water or even while performing ANY form of “work out.” Don’t attempt to even walk around while performing these techniques because you’ll pass out, bang your head on something and blame me for it. NOT!

The ARD (Air Restricting Device)

An air restricting device like the Expand-a-Lung is a useful tool for conditioning your lungs for better freediving.

First of all, the mouthpiece on these devices make you drool all over yourself so you will need to trim it to work best. We will also be removing and replacing the device from our mouths twice with each “cycle” so it is more convenient to have it trimmed.

Next, you will need to adjust the dial or “restriction level” to the appropriate amount. What is “appropriate” for you will have to be determined by trial and error. Anyone new to these exercises or have not done them for a while should start off at the easiest setting. By the end of this training session you will probably have a good idea of where your level should be, but feel free to change the “restriction level” that suits you best, even during the training session. To start, set the dial with the least amount of restriction. Remember, you can add more restriction as we go along.

Ok, are you ready? Here we gooooooooo…

Sit comfortably on the edge of a chair or couch etc. Your back should be straight and NOT resting on the backrest of the chair. Plant your feet firmly and comfortable on the ground in front of you. Your sitting position should feel like you could stand up and sprint at a moments notice.

At this time, if it helps to close your eyes or to stare off into space for a moment, take a minute to relax but stay ultra alert.

Warm Up

Now that you are relaxed and ultra alert:

  1. begin to breathe in deep, but easily, and hold your breath at the top (inhale over about a five second period, no straining). Wait until the lightheadedness goes away then…
  2. slowly exhale (exhale over about a five to ten second period, no straining). Inhale again as soon as your body tells you the slightest feeling of “wanting” air then repeat step a) and step b).
  3. Repeat these steps about five or six cycles; this is considered your warm-up.

Work Out

USE YOUR DIAPHRAGM! Do NOT flex every muscle in your body trying to get as much air as possible; you are doing nothing to help yourself. THIS ENTIRE EXCERSISE IS FOR DIAPHRAGM STRENGTHENING ONLY, NOT A FULL “BODY PUMP!” However, you may need to use some back and neck muscles as well as your shoulders and stomach muscles. It is BEST to move as little as possible for this exercise so that way you are focusing your breathing on your diaphragm muscle. Repeat step a) (above). At the top of your breath, and you are ready to breath out, hold the ARD (Air Restricting Device) up to your mouth and breath out into the ARD. The key factors are this:

Breath out (exhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit… don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can

You may notice an abundance of blood rushing to your head to a point where it becomes uncomfortable. If you feel this uncomfortable rush then follow these steps:

Stop exhaling for a moment but keep holding your breath. Wait a few seconds for the rush to reside then continue your exercise (exhaling).

Note: You can reduce the blood rush by lessening the effort (reduce the resistance on the ARD or don’t push so hard to exhale) you put into exhaling. But the more effort you reduce the less benefit you will get from the exercise so you will need to find a balance. Like any sport you will need to push yourself over the course of days, weeks and months but do so in small increments and carefully.

At the bottom of your exhale, remove the ARD and forcefully, but carefully, blow out any remaining air. This will feel a bit strange and uncomfortable the first few times you do it but the more you do these exercises the easier it gets. As soon as you reach the absolute bottom of your exhale place the ARD back to your mouth and:

Breath in (inhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit… don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can

At the top of your breath, when you can’t take in any more through the ARD, remove the ARD from your mouth and inhale as much as you can to top-off your lung capacity. Hold the breath for a five to fifteen seconds, depending on how long it takes the light-headedness to dissipate. As soon as you feel the need to breathe, or you have reached the fifteen-second maximum time to hold your breath, place the ARD back up to your mouth.

Note: This breathing exercise is not designed for holding your breath so do not try to hold your breath longer than what is absolutely necessary. As stated before:

Breath out (exhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit… don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can

Congratulations! You have completed one (1) cycle (actually one-and-a-half cycles but this is how you want to start this workout)! Now only twenty-nine (29) more (total 30).

* One Cycle = One breath in with ARD to capacity, remove ARD and inhale to full capacity and hold. Blow out through the ARD to minimum lung capacity, remove ARD and exhale to full empty.

– Place ARD in your mouth:

Breath in (inhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit –  don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can
  4. Remove ARD
  5. Inhale to full capacity and hold temporarily.

– Place ARD back in your mouth:

Breath out (exhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit –  don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can
  4. Remove ARD
  5. Exhale to full empty.
  6. Start again…

* One Workout = Thirty (30) Breath Cycles

Possible Workouts Per Day = Two (2). One in the morning before breakfast. One in the evening before dinner.

Possible Workouts Per Week = Fourteen (14). Twice a day, seven days a week. Keep in mind, you are doing a workout and you are working a very specific muscle so allow yourself enough time for “muscle recovery.” You may even notice, like any sport, eating healthy food and limit or eliminate alcohol will help in “muscle recovery” and therefore you will gain faster and your results will be more drastic.

Other general exercises like running, swimming, biking… can aid in shaping, toning and conditioning the body. This exercise and breathing techniques are specifically designed to strengthen your diaphragm muscle. Like any muscle, if you stop working it out, the diaphragm muscle will go back to its “original condition.” The ultimate results vary for each person as well as the time it takes before noticeable results occur. Feel free to “try different” techniques to suit your individual needs, but do so slowly and cautiously. Remember, common sense is expected and appreciated.

Personally, I have allergy-induced asthma so this is not only an exercise, it’s a necessity. When I stop using these breathing exercises I can actually hear myself breath due to a constricted airway. I can feel the results after the very first “workout (thirty breath cycle).” I dive just about every weekend, which is not a lot or a little, yet my bottom time can vary from three to four minutes all the way down to thirty seconds on a bad allergy day. I wish I were dramatizing…

I derived these exercises by learning from and training with World Record holder Brett LaMaster and National Freediving Champion Deron Verbeck, years of practice, trial and error and the introduction and availability of ARD’s. These are not “recognized” training methods from any major organization. This is just logical information derived from proven techniques, personal experience and lots of guinea pigs.

A few months from now I will introduce you to some, possibly new, terminology and techniques to further your progress using these on-land breathing diaphragm exercises (i.e. Purging, Packing…etc.) Please start slow and learn the proper technique FIRST and then learn the more advanced stuff, otherwise this is all for nothing. If your ego will not allow you to start from the beginning then please don’t start at all. Be humble in your training and your progress because you WILL notice a significant difference IF you follow these directions exactly.

Please realize that I am taking a bit of a risk giving any form of instruction for any kind of training because humans can be strange. I can’t be with you to supervise your training so I must rely on my fellow human’s common sense, which makes me a bit nervous.

Good luck and train well.

Rob White


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