Static Apnea for N00bs

Mar 7, 2017

Static Apnea for n00bs

Not many people think about it but you take between 17,000 and 30,000 breaths per day. I recently began to focus not only on how many breaths that I take but also the quality of those when learning about the Wim Hof Method. I begin to wonder what metrics should I even be looking at?

  • How long can I hold my breath?

  • How many breaths do I need when at rest?

  • How many breaths do I need when active?

In answering the question of how long can I hold my breath, I started with a basic stopwatch and attempting to go for it. The results were not impressive at 1 minute, 34 seconds. I did some research and found that many divers work to improve this process thru a training called static apnea training.

What is static apnea? According to Wikipedia, static apnea is a discipline in which a person holds their breath (apnea) underwater for as long as possible, and need not swim any distance. This training is based upon a generated set of tables that represent the hold times that an individual should hold their breath to build sustained oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) tolerance within your body. The training to build the ability to work at these 2 sustained levels is typically broken down into separate tables called O2 and CO2 tables respectively.

Table design

A table is broken into 2 phases. Those are:

  • Ventilation - Breathing in and out

  • Apnea - Holding your breath

CO2 Table

This table provides a series of breath holds that is intended to give the trainees body less oxygen at each interval thereby increasing the sustained level of CO2 in the bloodstream during training. Over the course of several trainings, the trainees body should be able to adapt to an increased level of CO2 in the body.

O2 Table

From my understanding, an O2 table trainings goal is to increase the maximum breath hold time of the trainee. The difference here between the CO2 and O2 tables is that the breathing phase of this table is constant whereas in the CO2 table, the hold phas is constant.

Hybrid Tables

I have seen 2 alternate table kinds across the space which I will briefly mention.

  • Pranayama - a controlled form of breathing that is typically part of a Yoga practice. This is another form of an O2 table.

  • Wonka - A CO2 style table that was named after Richard Wonka of WeDive. It serves to increase the efficiency of a table to produce an increased level of CO2 in the bloodstream.

Example Tables

CO2 Table

Repetition Ventilate (seconds) Apnea (seconds)
1 120 120
2 105 120
3 90 120
4 75 120
5 60 120
6 45 120
7 30 120
8 15 120

O2 Table

Repetition Ventilate (seconds) Apnea (seconds)
1 120 90
2 120 105
3 120 120
4 120 135
5 120 150
6 120 165
7 120 180
8 120 195

Pranayama Table

Repetition Ventilate (seconds) Apnea (seconds)
1 5 5
2 5 5
3 5 5
4 5 5
5 5 5
6 5 5
7 5 5
8 5 5

Table shorthand

The tables are commonly referred as (duration x repetitions) with many people that I spoke with. In the case of CO2 tables, it is (duration of apnea) x repetitions whereas in CO2 it is (duration of ventilation) x duration.

Mobile Apps

I thought it would be useful to see if there were any phone apps out there for usage as I am constantly with my phone for better or worse. Breathing tables are easy to generate but for a small price, there are some great apps to do the work for you and guide the process. If you are an iOS user as well, I have done the work of reviewing several iOS applications and found these 2 applications to be useful.

Apnea Diver


  • Supports 3 default tables (CO2, O2, Pranayama)

  • Voice count down

  • Custom table generation

  • Initial app walkthru was great

  • Has a skip button between breathing rounds should you not live up to expectations


  • Voice count down stops working sporadically

  • Not sure why it wants to integrate with Facebook

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STAmina Apnea Trainer


  • Voice countdown works like a champ

  • Voice can be configured to male or female should you care

  • The user interface is simpler than Apnea Diver


  • The settings are less robust than Apnea Diver

  • The learning curve was higher as the application didn’t have a walk thru

Image Gallery