STAmina Apnea App Review for Breath Training

Should I Train To Hold My Breath for Running, Biking, Swimming, or Triathlons?

According to most sources the average person can hold their breath anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds. This is a pretty narrow range considering the world record for holding your breath is over 24 minutes.

The narrow range is likely because this is not a metric that most people, or athletes, train. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts train their cardio but breath holding is different. Breath holding is not just about how you process oxygen, which can be improved. We have covered here before how VO2 max measurements vary across fitness trackers, but even a good VO2 will not inherently enable good performance in holding your breath. Holding your breath is also about dealing with the feeling of CO2 build up and oxygen depravation. 

For a limited subset of athletes there is a direct reason to train how to hold you breath. Those athletes are ones who spend time in the water, where you need to hold your breath. Some other technical sports, like precision shooting or archery, also teach holding your breath. Even for others, breath training can have great tangential benefits in focus and mental health. Free diving is the one obvious area where breath training is critical. There are a number of apps that produce apnea CO2 tables. These are simple intervals sets designed to build up the ability to tolerate CO2 in the body.

If you are not a free diver, and instead are training for other cardio sports, there are some listed benefits to holding your breath including increasing life span, helping with new brain tissue generation, and increasing relaxation. The last of those, increasing relaxation, is the major reason to train this. It is something that can be trained without effecting the rest of your training plan, and has signficant benefits for race day when you wind up in splashy water, excited, and with loads of other athletes around. Staying calm can help avoid heart rate peaks, and lower the total amount of energy you expend on the swim, which then translates to more energy for a ride or run. 

Benefits of Breath Training With an App

The STAmina app is designed to help train holding your breath. Apnea training is popular mostly with free divers, as it is key to the sport. But any athletes who spends time in the water can see benefits from simple breath training. Of all the free dive training apps we tried, STAmina has a simple enough interface to easily understand and worked without any complications.

For swimmers, having more time between breaths helps to focus on stroke technique. It is also beneficial in open water swimming where you might try to breath to the side- only to have a wave cause you to swallow water of have you skip the breath. The tables that STAmina creates can be customized to simulate doing breath training in the pool. Some swim training plans call for repeats of 25m laps with 1 or no breaths, and you can replicate these times in the app easily. 

At a more fundamental level, controlling your breathing is a simple form of meditation. The charts and timing of the STAmina apnea trainer closely resemble breathing exercises of the Apple Watch, Headspace, and other meditation assistance apps. 

Breath Training with STAmina Apnea Training App

The STAmina app is dead simple in its design and training. It uses your baseline best to build a series of charts to improve your breath holding abilities. Basically each session cycles through a rest period where you can breath normally (or deeply) and a hold period where you hold your breath. Cycling through the same loop 5-10 times will take between 5-20 minutes. There are two types of tables, one for CO2 and one for O2.

For CO2 the format is a standard breath holding time (30 seconds in the example below) but the breathing time between each gets lower and lower. This is a pretty good simulation for a standard swimming set on no breaths 25 meter intervals. Practicing like this will ensure that you know how to come take a breath in a controlled fashion, as you’ll need this calm break to prepare for the next hold. It feels like swim cardio training, but without any of the added muscle strain. 

stamina app co2 tables

The other format is for O2 tables. These are designed to maximize your time holding your breath, so you breath for a set amount of time than do intervals of slightly longer holding. It is never a great idea to train these back to back, or do too many intervals of either since there are some risks with holding your breath too long. 
For us a typical session is about 15 minutes long. Compared to similar meditation of the same length, have a breath training objective makes it easier to complete the whole session without getting distracted. In the rest periods staying focused on when to take a breath again keeps the mind from wandering. Being intentional about breathing has a significant calming effect. There is no need to go for maximum efforts all the time, or even ever. Unless you are planning to free dive being able to hold your breath for >2 minutes is mostly just a party trick or conversation starter. 

Apnea breath training personal best

Breath training can be done at any time and pretty much anywhere. It may look a bit odd if you are gasping for breath, but even sitting in a waiting room or on a plane you can get in a 10 minute session that’s has some benefits. Personally the preference is to do apnea training away from the rest of training. There doesn’t seem to be a clear benefit to doing this right before or after a workout.