mateusz-malina-fizjologia-limitless krakow kursy freedivingu

Advanced physiology course for freedivers

Lab rats

Last weekend I was a part of advanced physiology course for freedivers. It took 2 days. In the morning we were starting off with lab part and for the rest of the day we were going through theory.

Advanced physiology – DAY 1

On day 1 we have measured strength of our bradycardia, both dry and wet. First we had to hold our breath without any hyperventilation at about 70% of inhale.  Which is not an easy task, no warmup? no hyperventilation? not a full inhale? However, Marcin comforted us and said the time is not important as long as we will hold through few contractions.

We were connected with masimo pulse oximeter to our ear pad. This kind of masimo device is pretty expensive and is very accurate. Ear pad was previously spread with heating gel to increase blood circulation.

I performed dry static and my heartbeat dropped down to 32 bpm from 48 bpm during breathup and ~53 bpm at the start of breathold.

Next we have measured exactly the same thing but with face immersed in cold (15C) water. It was few of us so there was around 1,5h waiting time before next attempt. This way there was no warmup effect. My heart beat dropped to 29 bpm.

matt malina bradycardia cold water advanced physiology

Friday after work ? 🙂

It  was interesting to see differences between participants. Some of us had starting HR of 120 dropping to 40ish. Some of us had starting HR in the 70s dropping only to ~55. Including some high profile competitors. It just shows that freediving has many, many variables and even if one is week it doesn’t mean that we can’t progress…a lot!

Second test

advanced physiology

ECG while riding on a bike and breath-holding 🙂

In next test we were measuring our bradycardia while exercising. We had to ride on cycle ergometer while being connected to ECG until our hear rate reached 100 bpm and stabilize the effort, all done while breathing. Next in random moment we had to hold our breath just on top of passive (tidal) inhale. I’ve started with 93-98 bpm and my HR dropped down to 21 bpm in the end. Pretty amazing stuff. Imagine what happens in water or at depth? It was important to me because my heart didn’t show any arrhythmia or tachycardia even in the end.

ADVANCED physiology – DAY 2

Next day we have measured our BMR (body metabolic rate) and most of us freedivers have it below 100. The device had an O2 sensor and was measuring our oxygen usage while laying down and trying to relax.

advanced physiology

Robert “Ceti” Cetler does what he knows best – sleeping 🙂 fot. Agata Bogusz

My BMR was 90%, although my metabolism is on the high end at the moment. I exercise a lot, I eat as much as I can to build muscles 🙂 I’m curious of the results of it when I will focus on static and my diet + physical workout will be much lower.

For the rest of the day we were going through more of theory.


Marcin Baranowski is a PhD physiologist strictly focused on freediving and he is a freediver himself. I can say that I kind of cooperate with him for a few years now. I’m an athlete, I very often do what gut tells me to do, I just feel it. I can feel my body, because that’s what freediving is all about. Later on I have a talk with Marcin and he very often finds some medical research explaining to me, that what I do is good or it can be fine tuned/improved.

Marcin have read more than 400 studies available regarding freediving. Have you ever tried reading freedive studies? I did and this is not an easy task, especially if you are non native english speaking person. Marcin did amazing job, he picked the most interesting ones, explained them and summarized them to us, writing conclusions beneath each of them.

The presentation was about 350 slides long. This course was not about telling us what to do. It was about what studies have researched regarding freediving so we can understand everything that happens in our body.


Now, once I’m back home I will probably go through it couple of hundred of times and make decisions what can further improve for instance my dive responses. I enjoyed it a lot. Apart from better understanding of detailed physiological reactions in my body while freediving I can now better explain why I do certain things the way I do. I always say that it’s because what my gut tells me to do + it is working. Now I can also show a science behind it 🙂

Polish power of freediving ?!

diveye polish engineers matt malina limitless michal biskup

Diveye – small device does really big things for freediving 🙂

In the end I can proudly say that Polish freediving is heading into good direction 🙂 Polish people created Diveye – that can revolutionize our sport and bring it to mass media, Roorka – first audible computer that is already revolutionizing my diving, we have Marcin, who is extraordinary physiologist  and we have 2 current World Champions in 4 disciplines and World Record holders in 3 disciplines. Magda Solich in DNF (191 m) and me in DNF (244 m) + DYN (300 m).

roorka first audible dive computer matt malina limitless

With Roorka prototype in Cyprus 2015

Matt Malina and Magda Solich won Natalia Molchanova award at pool world championships in Turku

The best Freedivers of World Championships with Natalia Molchanova award

Lung Squeeze TIP

One tip that I didn’t know about and I found out this weekend. I’ve never had problems with lung squeeze so I was not really researching this topic. It turns out recently there were studies conducted and scientists found correlation about certain genes. It turns out people who have 2 certain types are much more prone to squeeze. It probably explains why some people are very vulnerable to it while some others don’t. It just means that certain people have to put a lot of effort into their lungs flexibility when they condition them for deep diving and it is perfectly normal. Never get discouraged by fact that your friend has easy time. I’ve seen myself people who had problems with lung squeeze at 40m and later they were trouble free divers to 100m. They just had to work harder.

Perfect Freediver

It turns out with series of lab tests on population it would be possible to pick a potentially elite freediver. If people were tested for genes regarding lung squeeze, how strong bradycardia, vasoconstriction they have, speed of their metabolism (BMR), resting heart rate, lung size and many, many more. People with all of those characteristics right could be potentially a very good freedivers from the beginning.

Never forget, that scientists say that genes are responsible for 9-11% of cancer cases and the rest is a life style. The same goes to training, having good genes for freediving is probably important but hard work and patience is even much more important.

Do You want to learn from me? Organize masterclass in Your country,make it happen and contact me for details! My calendar for 2017 is limited and bookings fill up quickly!

If You have any questions, ask them in comments and if You like what You read, please subscribe.


freediving knowledge nutshell masterclass matt malina

Knowledge in a Nutshell – Freediving Masterclass with Matt Malina!

Knowledge is the key!

Lately I’ve finished my second freediving masterclass, which was the first one in Poland. Participants had an unique opportunity to get familiar with my training methods (pool, dry and physical), diet, supplementation, my approach to psychology and generally everything that I know about freediving. There was no secrets and I have answered every question to the best of my current knowledge.

freediving masterclass limitless skladowe sukcesu wiedza matt malina

Success in Freediving is much more than training

Let’s talk about dive responses

On Saturday morning we have started at 9:00 sharp and discussed my approach to freediving, what role it plays in my life and how I mix it with normal work. I talked about physiology and many dive responses we have as well as how to strengthen them.

It’s important to start strengthening them gradually, not all at once. I have discussed different strategies regarding direct preparation before maximum performance and also during the performances.

what type of training actually matters?

freediving masterclass limitless dieta suplementacja odzywianie trening psychologia matt malina

One of many questions that I was happy to answer

I have showed charts with all of my training and competition dives, what changes in my approach, training, diet, supplementation were crucial in reaching new personal bests. Generally I have discussed and flagged important factors that contributed to each of my progress across the years.

Guess what? Not everything I’ve done was right, there are some changes that were bad and I have wasted some time/years by doing them. Now If I could just go back in time and work from the beginning in every compartment, my progress would be much faster.

Learn from my experience

Luckily You have the option and You can learn from my mistakes! Get my 7 years of experience, all of my knowledge in a nutshell!

4 hours passed and we went for a dinner, well deserved break.

freediving knowledge nutshell masterclass matt malina sushi

Sushi – as we can see it’s favorite food of Nitas 🙂

Afterwards we have continued with training plans, what and how I do. I have explained all of the exercises I do and later how I combine them into training plans.
Time passed quickly and at 18:30 we finished the day. We have also started psychology topic which we later continued on Sunday.

Pool stuff

Sunday we have started in a pool at 8:00. I have divided people into a groups of 3. Each group had 1 hour with me in a pool. During that time I have video recorded everyone from all angles. Now, after the course I go through the videos in slow motion, where I analyze everyone’s technique and send emails back with my personal feedback.

After the pool session we continued with theory from about 12:00. We had finished very interesting topic of psychology.

have you ever wonder what to eat, when to it etc in order to boost your performance?

Afterwards we spoke about supplementation and how it can boost our recovery.

In the end there was my favorite topic – Diet 🙂

It was long and fruitful discussion but we have managed to finish around 16:30!

The course was a great success and brought me a lot of satisfaction. I love the feeling of teaching and passing the knowledge, especially in masterclasses where we talk about the advanced stuff.

If You want to organise such masterclass in Your country,make it happen and contact me for details! My calendar for 2017 is limited and bookings fill up quickly!

If You have any questions, ask them in comments and if You like what You read, please subscribe.


huge motivation tremendous amount work world record qualifications world championships

Huge motivation and tremendous amount of work. World Record in qualifications of World Championships!

world record – 232m dynamic without fins (DNF) Matt Malina

Behind the scenes

Hard workouts, tremendous amount of training done within last year. All of it plus huge motivation and big smile on my face was taken to Turku. Oh and 100 kg of additional luggage 🙂

big luggage for competition

100 kg of luggage


Day of dynamic without fins (DNF) qualifications has come. Luckily it was not my first start in Turku. Day before not everything went as planned and I have missed static (STA) finale by 6 seconds. I didn’t plan to compete in finale A of static, even if I would qualify. It was only one day before DNF finale and I didn’t want to make myself tired. However I would prefer to choose it myself, not being forced to it. It was a valuable lesson for my ego, that is what everybody try to protect, consciously or sub-consciously 🙂

matt malina does static apnea in world championships qualifications turku

7:33 and finale B fot. Daan Verhoeven

My work with sport psychologist and healthy motivation

For the past 2 years I co-operate with sport psychologist. Practically speaking, since then I have started to get my biggest successes (e.g breaking my first World Record). Main aspects of healthy motivation are being able to forget about expectations and rating Yourself, because it’s connected with our ego. It’s very important to focus on being present “Here and Now“. Focus on how You would like to feel here and now and just “do Your thing“. It’s healthy attitude and motivation, at least in my case. In DNF qualifications I was full of positive emotions and I was just doing my thing, something that I was preparing for the whole last year.

Motivation and visualisation before world record dnf matt malina 232

Visualisation is an important training method

Additional motivation in dynamic without fins (DNF)

Month earlier during CMAS World Championships in Freediving, Arthur Guerin Boeri have swum 221 m DNF. It’s less than my World Record of 226 m. However it was done in an Olympic sized pool (50 m long) which makes it very respectable. Additionally two days later he was the first man in history to swim 300 m in monofin in DYNamic discipline. In the past I would probably respond to it by feeling fear, maybe it would even brake me as in DNF finale in Belgrade 2013.

Matt Malina dnf 244m underwater swimming technique

I have felt power during the swim! fot. Daan Verhoeven

Luckily I’m not the same Matt as I used to be in the past. Nowadays, successes of others motivate me . They even show me that something is possible and if someone did it, why should I not do it myself? Additionally this circumstances made me realize how much I care about my goals or in other words, good dives in Turku. It’s another aspect of healthy motivation, to establish emotional bond with Your goal. Because of whole this situation I was anticipating for confrontation with other competitors, especially with Arthur in DNF. Maybe it didn’t have a decisive role, but it certainly helped me.

Two different dives

In qualifications I allowed two options. If dive will not go well, I will do 200 m, to be sure finale A is secured without any calculations. In second option I didn’t set any limit to myself. In freediving there is a lot of little variables that decide about end result. If it happens that all of them work to my favor, it would be a big waste to end perfect dive prematurely. Especially since that kind of dives doesn’t happen often and it may surely not happen in finale with all that extra stress. Anyway, for me the most important fact is to challenge my own limits. If that would happen in qualifications and in finals I would have a bad day, I would still be happy about this one dive. Important is inner journey and feelings.

Matt Malina surface set new world record dnf 232

Before surfacing, I knew I have done what I was prepared for! fot. Daan Verhoeven

Course of qualifications

Without any expectations, with one thought in my mind – I do my thing – I’ve started my DNF dive. Quickly I have realized that it’s a good day, maybe even perfect one. Each finished length of the pool confirmed me in that feeling. I was able to swim peacefully and in a relaxed shape.

At 200 m mark I was totally lucid in my head and I knew that I can go to magic 232 m, national record of New Zealand set by legendary Dave Mullins. National record (due to official requirements) set 7 years ago, that was greater than any other world record in this discipline. When I was at 225 m wall, I have made a turn, one arm stroke, removed my neck-weight and came up. I have removed my neck-weight because I wanted to be sure I will not immerse my airways, thus disqualify myself and I had enough air reserve to do it. After surfacing I have completed surface protocol very fast (4 seconds) and white card from judge was just a formality.

Chat with Polish team after Matt Malina beats dnf world record 232

Matt why You have beaten WR in qualification heats? fot. Aleksandr Pangev

Memories of the past and my motivation for the future

I was overwhelmingly happy! I couldn’t believe my dream came true. I remember back in the days in 2009, when Dave set that record. I was in Egypt back then and I was just on the beginning of my freediving journey. My current personal best in discipline was 156 m. 232 m felt far, far away, it was abstraction to me. I never thought I would come even close to that. My lifetime goal was 200 m in DNF for me. However I have reached that mark in 2012 and later I start thinking about World Record. After I’ve set World Record in 2013 I’ve start thinking very shyly about 250 m. Now I know it will happen sooner or later and I’ve start to think very, very, very shyly about 260+, or maybe even 275 m 🙂

You can see dear subscriber how important is healthy motivation. If back in 2009 I would think that my goal is to reach 232 m I would probably discourage myself and would have never done it. This goal was too far and probably any other result wouldn’t make me happy, since my goal wasn’t reached. Instead of this I was creating a personal goal that I could reach within 1, maximum 2 years. Freediving is about listening to our own body and it’s important to race only with ourselves.

Matt Malina set new world record in dnf 232m freediving

Why not ? 🙂 fot. Aleksandr Pangev

Limits are only in our heads

This way my motivation was driving me. I was passing my limits very often and I have come to ultimate conclusion that limits are in our heads. Limit is where I set it to be in my head. It’s important to have common sense and plan for realization of such goals. From observation of myself and others in any sport I think that as long as someone is focused, have motivation and plan for training, he can progress. It is not over until You say it’s over.

Short but precise sentence. Especially in Freediving, where Natalia Molchanova had proved that age is just a number. Good example from other sports is Michael Phelps and his successful come back in recent Olympic games. If he wanted I’m sure he would be able to score a medal or two in Tokyo Olympics but now when he has a kid and some chapter in his life is over, he is probably retired for good.

did I have moments of doubt?

Back to the Freediving World Championships topic, after successful DNF attempt, I’ve started to have moments of doubt. I’ve realized that probably no one have ever set a World Record in qualifications heat. No one had done it because why make myself tired in heats? I’ve heard that I would be better off by saving my strength for finals and I should have planned it better. However I had a different opinion about it. For me heats were primarily a mental warmup and as it turned out later, physical too 🙂

Opening ceremony of Freediving World Championships

Opening ceremony, how it’s going to be ? 🙂

Once I’ve read an article about Olympic champions. I’ve tried to find it but I can’t. Anyway, first there were stereotypical issues analyzed and proved to be wrong e.g  champion should train as number 2 (harder, longer etc.). Next it was described that Olympic champions shouldn’t listen to established rules because their work made them what they are, Olympic champions and they should listen to their gut when it comes to tactic or training routine. They should train like champions, not stereotypically, because that’s how they get that far. I must agree with that!

Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER and his words

I have never concealed that motivational speeches of Arnolda Schwarzenegger helped me a lot at some point of my career. One of his thought I come back to often is:

I love it when someone says that no one has ever done this before, because then when I do it that means that I’m the first one that has done it

Was this thinking good in finale A of World Championships? Read in my next post, meanwhile I encourage You to ask questions and comment below!

More photos available in my gallery, click here!

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