What is Hypoxic Training &  How to Do It

Hypoxic training may seem like intense training to improve athletic performance, but it addresses one of the key factors that differentiate high altitude training and swimming from other sports.

The most important factor is, of course, your breathing.

What Is Hypoxic Training?

When you swim, you train more than just your muscles. You will also exercise your lungs! This is the basic concept of hypoxic exercise, which challenges your body to adapt to low oxygen levels. You are working on controlling your breathing. Hypoxic swimwear has been used for decades to help swimmers reduce ventilation and simulate the challenge of maintaining a breathing pattern during a challenging race.

It is important to note that hypoxic training is best for intermediate or advanced swimmers who are very comfortable in the water and understand the basic mechanics of the stroke.

Hypoxic Training is often confused with the prolonged holding of the breath, when in fact, exhalation is perfectly fine – and encouraged. Holding your breath for a long time or trying to swim underwater for a long time causes carbon dioxide to build up in your body, which can cause headaches, fainting, and drowning. Avoid holding your breath for long periods or swimming underwater for long periods.

During the hypoxic series, exhale slowly through your nose while your head is in the water before inhaling again. This allows you to continue working on breathing control without worrying about carbon dioxide poisoning. The same concept applies to swimming with a natural breathing pattern.

Why should you consider hypoxic training?

While scientists still don't agree that hypoxic training improves a swimmer's aerobic capacity, incorporating hypoxic sets into swimming has additional benefits:

  • Dealing with Stroke Problems: Hypoxic exercise can help you overcome stroke problems that occur when you breathe. When you breathe less, your body has more time to work on proper movement patterns.
  • Better control in open water: When swimming in rough water, it can be difficult to maintain a breathing pattern. Hypoxic training can give you the peace of mind that if you get a certain part of the swim right, you can do a few extra strokes before you catch your breath.
  • Boosts Heart Rate: A brief hypoxic burst can help get your heart rate up during a swim warm-up without trying too hard.

Examples of hypoxic swimming exercise

Adjust your hypoxic training to your skill level and don't do a hypoxic set without a lifeguard. We recommend not waiting more than 15 seconds between breaths.


  • Add to your breathing pattern: 4 x 50, and add one beat to your normal breathing pattern (if you are breathing every two beats, try breathing every three beats, etc.).
  • Wall Focus: 2x100, not breathing the last five meters in front of the wall.
  • Hit: 4 x 50, striking for 10 seconds and a breath (or 10 hits / a breath)


  • Inhale rhythm: exhale 4x200, breathing for 50 counts every 3/5/3/5.
  • Below: 4x50 swimming, four breaths in the first 50, three breaths in the second, two breaths in the third, and one breath in the fourth. Choose a starting number and reduce each repetition by one!
  • Underwater Kick: 25 x 8 underwater dolphin kicks (with or without fins).

Ensure adequate rest with a hypoxic swimsuit. We recommend at least 20 seconds of rest every 25 seconds, but take as many breaks as you need!

Biggest Mistakes in Hypoxic Training

Avoid these mistakes when swimming with a hypoxic kit:

  • Breathing: Holding your breath for too long without exhaling causes carbon dioxide to build up in the lungs, which can lead to loss of consciousness.
  • Long underwater dives: Try not to do more than 25 underwater dives at a time. A long time without breathing can cause fainting and drowning.
  • Rapid, deep breathing: This can lead to hyperventilation, which unbalances the body's oxygen and carbon dioxide and reduces the body's natural signals to breathe. Instead, take a deep breath before stepping away from the wall.

Listen To Your Body

If you are new to hypoxia training, take it easy. The above suggestions are just that: suggestions. Adjust breathing rate, distance, and rest time to your current skill and comfort level. If you feel dizzy, stand against a wall and breathe slowly and deeply. With consistent practice, your breathing control will improve over time. For added peace of mind, always swim with a lifeguard on board.

The medical definition of hypoxia is a pathological condition caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the entire body. Hypoxic training (also known as altitude training) is when an athlete intentionally breathes in air that is deficient in oxygen. This could mean changing their educational conditions or even where they live and sleep. This training method can conjure up visions of people preparing to adapt to low-oxygen conditions at high altitudes, such as daring climbs in the mountains of Nepal. But training at sea level also has serious advantages. High-intensity hypoxic resistance training is used by boxers, cyclists, and many other elite athletes at low altitudes.

Hypoxic swimming training is different because there is now a lack of natural oxygen in the exercise. No need to climb big mountains or invest in high-altitude rooms. It's all about changing your breathing. Hypoxic swimming training refers to a special type of training that is performed with a different breathing pattern than the normal one- or three-stroke breathing method.

In the next two parts, we'll look at how training methods differ for athletes and high-altitude swimmers. Let's reveal the difference between "false altitude" and "true altitude" in hypoxic training. And we'll see how every wrestling match can benefit from hypoxic training.

Hypoxic High-Altitude Training

The hypoxic exercise was originally intended to simulate exercise at high altitudes by adding altitude exposure to the exercise program. The idea is that the partial pressure of oxygen in the air decreases, causing the flow of oxygen in red blood cells to decrease. However, studies have shown that hypoxic exercise does not reduce arterial blood flow of oxygen to the tissues, i.e., it does not create the conditions encountered during exercise at altitude.

However, hypoxic training has its benefits. It can help to strengthen the skeletal muscles of the body and speed up metabolism. One of the most common methods of hypoxic training is hypoxic interval training, in which athletes alternately breathe oxygen-free air (hypoxic) and ambient air (normoxic air).

Another example of hypoxic training is "low-live-high training". Here, endurance athletes sleep in hypoxic conditions at high altitudes to improve their performance at sea level. So they train at low altitudes and enjoy the high altitude. High-altitude use like this combines low pressure with low oxygen and is known as hypobaric hypoxia.

Some endurance athletes try to mimic sea-level altitude conditions by reducing oxygen intake (the altitude chamber is an example) in a normal atmospheric pressure environment. This results in normobaric hypoxia, or "false altitude," but research has yet to show whether it's less than real.

Hypoxic Training For Swimmers

In the world of competitive swimming, hypoxic training is a technique swimmers use to improve their water tolerance in the face of a lack of oxygen. This is accomplished by restricting the way you breathe during exercise. Hypoxic exercise causes a condition called hypercapnia (from the Greek hyper: too much or kapos: smoke), or in other words, an increase in the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in red blood cells (and a decrease in oxygen saturation). Therefore, hypercapnia causes a respiratory reflex. If you have trouble holding your breath at certain times while swimming (during a run or a long stage underwater), your body's carbon dioxide levels increase, not your oxygen supply, which means you're getting air.

The less you practice breathing, the better you will control the breathing reflex caused by hypercapnia. So you can swim more and breathe less. It is important to remember that you should never hold your breath during hypoxic exercise, but you should exhale very slowly when your face is in the water. Holding your breath can lead to fainting and is not the answer to prolonged exercise.

Therefore, sport science has found that hypoxic training is excellent for the overall athletic performance of freestyle and butterfly swimmers. Candidates will also notice the benefits of using the propeller stroke during underwater stages, and supporters can also practice this skill during underwater stages. In other words, exposure to hypoxia can benefit any Olympic athlete. You can improve your technique very quickly in a short amount of time, and by teaching your body to breathe less when needed, reduce the effects of hypercapnia within a few weeks.

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