In freediving training programs, how do you know if you are overtraining or not? How do you reach your optimal as a Freediver?

It is often mentioned in freediving training as a limiting factor in their progression. Before addressing the topic, let’s give a clear definition of overtraining and its variations and define other related concepts such as overreaching. 

Generally speaking, athletes train to increase performance. In order to do this, athletes increase their freediving training loads. These increased loads are possible thanks to sufficient periods of rest and recovery (all of this being integrated into a broader training periodization).

Overreaching is considered an accumulation of freediving training loads that lead to performance decrements requiring days to weeks of recovery.

Overreaching followed by appropriate rest can ultimately lead to performance increases. It is then called Functional Overreaching (FOR). However, when athletes do not sufficiently respect the balance between training and recovery, Non-Functional Overreaching (NFOR) can occur, and the performance decreases instead.

If overreaching is extreme and combined with an additional stress factor, Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) occurs. The relation between NFOR and OTS is not yet completely defined. It is also important to note that their symptoms are various, non-specific, anecdotal, and numerous. The definitions are also linked to the timeframe of the performance decrement.

Here is the definition given by the European College of Sports Science : 

Now you can see that functional overreaching leads to a super compensation in freediving training like in any other sport. My personal experience also gives me the same reasoning about the body adaptation to freediving (diving reflex and pressure adaptation). So we definitely need regular periods with a lot of training volume. Being scared of overtraining and not training enough is definitely not a good strategy either if you want to increase your performance. You just need to plan your training with sufficient periods of rest and commit to those periods.

It is expected as you overreach to see performance decreasing a little bit. Our first reflex is to want to train harder, thinking it might come from a lack of training. However, it is crucial that we do the opposite and rest when needed. This is how you keep freediving as a safe sport.

Here are  a few more tips  to prevent Non-Functional Overreaching and Overtraining while keeping some periods with Functional Overreaching: 

  • Periodization of training: Have a proper training plan including sufficient rest and some periods of peak performances, including tapering for competitions. Working with a coach on this part is a great plus. He will be able to bring you the methodology on how to build a balanced training plan.


  • Adjust training volume and intensity based on performance and mood: In other words, listen to your body. If you work with a coach, let them know how you are feeling after each session. Again, the training log is essential for this part.


  • Ensure adequate calories for training load: our calorie intake should cover what your body needs for training and muscle repair. Work with a nutritionist to evaluate your food habits and ensure you get enough of what you need. Calories but also minerals and vitamins.


  • Ensure adequate hydration: Dehydration contributes to muscle fatigue. Ensure sufficient fluids with the goal of having light-colored urine. Be cautious with liquids that add to dehydration, such as caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. In freediving, it is even more important to be aware of it due to the diuresis caused by the diving reflex. It also reduces the risks of decompression sickness.


  • Ensure adequate sleep: In all sports, top athletes sleep a lot. Make sure you sleep enough but also in good conditions. Avoid spending time on screens just before going to bed.


  • Abstinence of training following infection, heat stroke/stress, periods of high pressure. Give your body and mind time to recover before stressing them again with a high load of freediving training.


  • Utilize mood state and alter training load: Include a section dedicated to your mood in your training log: I usually rate my motivation and my confidence from 1 to 5 every day. These are significant indicators of potential overreaching and overtraining. If you love what you do, it should not be a hassle to go and practice.


  • Increase the volume and intensity of freediving training progressively. You would be surprised to see the amount of training some top athletes can sustain without overtraining, and you might get there. You just need to take the time and add some load only when your body is already used to the current load and ready to take more. 


  • Put variations in your freediving training, especially if you are freediving training for some specific activities. Another kind of overtraining can come from a lack of variations in the training. Monotonous program overtraining suggests that repetition of the same movement, such as specific weight lifting and baseball batting, can cause performance plateaus due to an adaptation of the central nervous system, which results from a lack of stimulation. 


Now, what should you do if you end up in the Non-Functional Overreaching or Overtraining Syndrome zone?
It could almost be summarized in one word: REST.
It can be very frustrating, but it is essential. It can take months without any freediving training for severe OTS to recover fully.



Fortunately, what we refer to as overtraining in freediving is most of the time overreaching and is easily fixed with some rest followed by a re-periodization of your training. Many Freedivers limit themselves by fear of overtraining and could increase their performances quickly with a proper training plan.


The help of a coach is a big plus. This is why we personalize your training at Camotes Freediving, and keep it enjoyable.  You naturally progress when you enjoy what you are doing.  So, Freediving is not just a sport but becomes your lifestyle.  It changes your perspective on training and rest and in parallel, your mindset about work and relaxation.