Are STA CO2 tables a waste of time?

There are many debates whether CO2 tables are helpful or useless for Freedivers. And in reality, as always, truth is somewhere in the middle.

We are practicing CO2 tables, classical and modified on our Advanced Freediver and following courses.

First, what is a STA CO2 table?

Take 50% from your current maximum STA and repeat it 6-8 times, every time decreasing rest time. If your current max, let’s say 2 minutes, this is how a classical CO2 table would look like for you.

REST BREATH HOLD
2.00 1.00
1.45 1.00
1.30 1.00
1.15 1.00
1.00 1.00
0.45 1.00
0.30 1.00

Before you start doing this type of training or critique it, let’s ask the main question – what is your goal in this kind of training? Have a longer breath-hold?

Now let’s have a look at what happens during this table.

First, a Freediver who does this table, practicing relaxation breathing. Seven times from 2.00 to 0.30 practicing a critical skill. Calm down your mind and relax your muscles. Don’t underestimate this skill.

Next, the freediver trains how to relax while holding your breath. And this is a crucial skill for all levels and especially for beginners. Don’t try to be tough and “handle” contractions; learn how to hold your breath longer without them!

Probably the first 4-5 attempts will be pretty easy, and you won’t experience any urge to breathe symptoms – beautiful, coming out from your comfort zone is not your priority at this moment.

And it might be on the last 1-2 the Freediver going to have 1 or 2 contractions. So, in addition to previous goals, we train how to stay relaxed during these first couple of contractions for these two attempts.

If you don’t have any, increase each breath hold by 5 seconds on the next training.

My conclusion – if you are a beginner or intermediate Freediver and trying to build a foundation – this classical STA CO2 table is a legit way of training!

But then why do a lot of experienced Freedivers critique it? Because it is a waste of training time for THEM! They have already mastered how to do relaxation breathing or stay relaxed and not panic during first contractions. They passed this step. Now they have different goals.

And yes, a classical CO2 table is not the most effective way to train tolerance to a high level of CO2. But if your STA is less than 4 minutes, do you need to train it? Or your priority to learn basics, which is relaxation, not suffering?

Don’t blindly copy the way how champions are trained, when you are a beginner!