When you google Training Zones, you'll find a whole load of info about optimal heart rate for your training zone. However, as freedivers, we know that these parameters have absolutely no relevance to us at all - for us, the lower the heart rate, the better. And the less we are observing the 'numbers' (depth, time, heart rate), the more we can focus on letting go and allowing the dive to unfold. So, how can we define and measure a meaningful training zone for ourselves as freedivers, yogis and meditators?
The training zone is a narrow margin where your body finds its optimal adaptation and growth potential. Each of us is different – some of us take longer to improve our flexibility, while others need to work longer hours in the gym to get the same cardio or strength results as someone else. It is important that we recognise that while the RULES of the training zone and adaptation are the same, each of us adapts at our own, unique, perfect rate.
There is a huge temptation in freediving to compare ourselves to others, for beginners to copy the top athletes' training programmes, and expect the same rate of progression. In most cases this only leads to exhaustion, misery, disillusionment and injury. None of which are much fun to experience.
Take the short-cut – understand where your unique training zone is, and work with it, not against it.
How to find your training zone?
- When you perform an exercise, be it a static, a hang, a meditation, or lifting weights, know what it is you want to achieve, ie are you targeting your low-O2 tolerance, increasing CO2 levels, the restlessness of your mind, or specific muscles in your body. Are your exercises really going to help you achieve your goals, or do you procrastinate with other ‘stuff’ that feels easier and more achievable, and avoid working on the stuff you need, because it feels harder?
- Commit to spending time each day working on the specific thing you want to adapt and improve.
- Set your training zone – you do this by finding the zone that is CHALLENGING yet SUSTAINABLE. It must be challenging otherwise there will be no stimulus to adapt (positive stress is the stimulus we need to trigger that process). It must be sustainable because if you go too hard, too fast, you will burn out, tear your muscles or just give up, and you won’t do enough work for the body to respond in a positive way.
It’s fun looking for this zone, and once you are aware of it and use it proactively in your training and other areas of your life, you will find that progression becomes reliable, which in turn motivates you to continue. But remember, it is always moving – the stronger your muscles become, the more responsive your mind, the more flexible your rib cage, the more you will need to increase the load (either in amount or pressure (CHALLENGE) or duration at which you maintain that stress (SUSTAINABLE).
So get out there – train in the way that YOUR body will respond! And if you want to find out more about this approach to freediving, meditation and life, check out my new Yoga for Freediving online course, Training & Performance here.