14 Mar Advanced Frenzel Equalisation for Deep Dives and Equalize Below Residual Volume
Hello Freediving family! Today, we are going to be talking about Advanced Frenzel. We’re gonna be talking about a method of frenzel equalisation that you can do deeper than a 100 meter.
Feel free to read on, or watch below:
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So, let’s talk about advanced frenzel or deep frenzel. Before I start jumping into specifics, I do have to say that frenzel equalisation is the absolute foundation of all freediving equalisation. If your intention is to comfortably progress deeper, it is super important that you develop a very strong frenzel technique. And for anyone that doesn’t know, frenzel equalisation is when you equalise your ears by creating a seal with the front of your tongue, and then pumping with the back of your tongue and your throat. So you’re using the air in your mouth to equalise your ears for deeper freediving or there’s more comfortable equalisation in general for any form of diving.
This blog is going to cover deep frenzel. This is the frenzel technique that I personally use to dive deeper than a 100 meters with frenzel equalisation. The really cool thing about this technique, is that this technique can be applied to people progressing from 20 meters to 30 meters, 30 meters to 40 meters, 40 meters to 50 meters. This technique is applicable to divers of almost any level, and practising the steps of this equalisation technique will only improve your ability to equalise in general and make your deeper dives more comfortable.
I know that not everyone has a desire to dive to a hundred odd meters, but the principles that I talk about in this video will help you get from 20 to 30, 30 to 40. They’re the principles that will help you frenzel equalise to your deepest depths or your deeper depths.
We’re gonna start by changing the concept of frenzel equalisation just a little bit. I know that we often think of this as equalising the ears, but there’s actually so much more to equalisation than just making the ears pop. What we are doing is equalising all the air spaces in our head. So, what I mean by this is that we are sucking out air from the lungs, the air comes out from the lungs into our mouth, and then we are using the tongue and the throat to distribute the air to all of our air spaces. We first push the air into our nasal cavity, and at the back of our nasal cavity is our Eustachian tube which connects to our middle ear, which is the part of the ear that we are equalising. So, we equalise the nasal cavity, some of that air goes into middle ear. That is when the nose is pinched of course, because if the nose is not pinched then some of the air goes into the mouth. And all the time if the nose is pinched or not pinched, we put air into the sinuses. There you go, and so the air also goes into our sinuses.
Now the reason that we’re changing this concept is because as we are diving deeper, all these air spaces need to be equalised evenly in order for us to keep going. This is gonna make a lot more sense when I start explaining the concept of vacuums and what vacuums do for equalisation. But for now, we just wanna change the concepts, we’re not just equalising the ears, we’re equalising the nasal cavity, ears, sinuses, and mask.
I am assuming you have read my previous frenzel blog and that you have a decent understanding of what frenzel equalisation is. So let’s move through the three main frenzel equalisation locks.
There is the T-lock, now the T-lock is when the front of your tongue makes contact with the front of the roof of the mouth, and it is the same position your tongue goes into when you make the “T” sound.
The next position is the K-Lock, the K-lock is when the center of your tongue, of the middle of your tongue, makes contact with the center of the roof of the mouth. Still on the hard palate bone, now if you put your tongue up against the roof of the mouth and ran it back, you’ll notice that there is a hard area of bone which quickly turns into a soft area of muscle. Y’know all that good stuff.
Now the T and K lock are both done with the tongue making contact with the hard palate. These little lines I’ve drawn here is the distinction between the hard and the soft palate, because the next lock is the H-lock.
The H-lock is done against the soft palate and the best way to know if you are doing the H-lock is if you can frenzel equalise with your tongue stuck out. With the tongue stuck out like that, the front or the middle of your tongue won’t be available to you for T or K-lock and you’ll be forced to go to a H-lock or you’ll be forced to engage the back of the tongue as a seal in order to do a frenzel equalisation.
Now why are these locks important for depth? The reason is, because the different tongue positions require a different volume of air behind them in order to make enough pressure to push the air into the nasal cavity and then to be distributed to the rest of our air spaces. So, for example, behind a T frenzel there is about on average of 250 ml’s of air, 250 millilitres. Behind a K frenzel there is roughly 180 milliliters of air, and behind an H frenzel there is roughly 120 millilitres of air. Now what these different volumes really means is that, in order to perform a T equalization, you need to suck up about 250 ml’s of air from your lungs into your mouth.
Now this is okay when we’re relatively shallow but the deeper we go, the smaller our lungs become. At the surface at zero meters, my lungs are, from the average of adult male, 6 odd litres, when I go to 10 meters my lungs now 3 odd litres, when I go down to 20 meters my lungs are now 2 odd litres, right? So to take up 250 ml’s of air at 20 meters is number 1.) Relatively stressful for the lungs and number 2.) Challenging.
If you’ve ever been diving and you hear a strained noise as you’re trying to frenzel, as you’re trying to bring up air to equalise. That is usually the sound of you trying to bring up too much air for your reverse pack, so when you’re trying to reverse pack the air from your lungs and suck them into your mouth, you’re usually trying to reverse pack up to create a volume. And maybe because you’re trying to do a T frenzel or a K frenzel and you’re only gonna be able to suck up enough air for H frenzel. So a T frenzel is the shallowest frenzel, the K frenzel is the middle frenzel, the one that can be done a little bit deeper. And the H frenzel is the deep frenzel, so learning how to master the H frenzel is what allows you to frenzel equalise deeper and deeper and deeper. Usually it is challenging to do a T or a K frenzel deeper than 30 meters and usually a H frenzel is required.
In my previous frenzel blog I did try stress that it is important to become a master of all of these different tongue positions. That it’s important to learn how to move your tongue between the three. Because they all have different purposes, a T Frenzel have the most air behind it, and so is the usually strongest. Followed by the K and the H but like I said before, the H is the deepest followed by the K and the T is the shallowest. And with the shallowest, because it requires the most amount of air to perform, which means you have to suck a larger quantity or a larger volume of air from your lungs into mouth in order to perform it.
Now it’s time to talk about vacuums. What are vacuums? What do I mean by vacuums and how do they affect or help our equalisation? So, very simply, a vacuum is when the air pressure in one air space or one area is lower than the air spaces around it. So, let’s say I had a balloon and let’s say I surrounded the balloon on all sides and I squeezed it in, what would happen is the air inside the balloon would increase in pressure. And if I popped the balloon, if I made a hole in it, it would rush out into the atmosphere. If the opposite were true, If I could grab the balloon on all sides and stretch it out, what would happen is that the air inside would decrease in pressure. And If I popped a hole in it or if I made like a little hole, what would happen is the air from outside would rush in to fill the pressure. Because the air pressure is always trying to find an equilibrium, it’s always trying to balance itself.
So, for example if we’re diving down and we forget to equalise the mask, what happens is, the pressure in the mask decreases and the vacuum builds up. And this will cause the mask to suck onto our face and if we let go of the nose, what would happen is the air that’s in the nasal cavity would be forced to rush into the mask. And then it’ll be hard to equalise the ears because all the air that was here to the ears has been sucked into the mask.
Now that’s a very simple example of a vacuum but in short, a vacuum is when any of these air spaces has air pressure that is lower than the air spaces around it. And the issue with vacuums is that lower pressure will suck air from other air spaces to balance the equilibrium. Because the truth is, is that even though we view these as separate air spaces, like okay, this is the oral cavity, this is the nasal cavity, this is the middle ear, this is the sinus, this is the mask, and then down here in, not on the whiteboard, is the lung, right? Even if we view them as separate air spaces, they are really are all one interconnected air space with different gatekeepers which can block or limit the flow of air moving between them.
For example, it is the vocal fold that restricts airflow or that can stop airflow from moving from the lungs into the oral cavity or the oral cavity into the thoracic cavity, and then it’s the soft palate that moves up and down that can block off access to the nasal cavity who can stop air from moving from the oral cavity into the nasal cavity and vice-versa, it can stop the air from going from the nasal cavity into the oral cavity. It is the Eustachian tube that can stop air from moving from the nasal cavity to the middle ear, and it can also stop air from moving from the middle ear into the nasal cavity.
Now the issue with the sinuses is that there is no muscular control, there is nothing inside our control that can stop or inhibit the flow of air in and out of the sinuses. So, the sinuses are just their own beast and then obviously pinching or letting go of the nose, you know like releasing the nose will allow air to move in or out of the mask. But usually if you have a vacuum in one area it will stop you from being able to equalise, for example a vacuum in the mask will tug at the air in your nasal cavity. And then you won’t be able to build up enough pressure in the nasal cavity to push open the Eustachian tube and equalise the middle ear, because that’s all we’re doing to equalise the middle ear. We’re not really equalising the middle ear, we are equalising the nasal cavity, we’re putting pressure in the nasal cavity and enough pressure will push apart the Eustachian tubes and air will go into the middle ear.
But let’s say we have had a cold recently or we’ve got a bit of mucus in our sinuses, and we start to have a vacuum in our sinuses. That will tug at the air or suck the air in the nasal cavity and it will make it hard for you to equalise your ears. Have you ever wondered why, you know, you go for a dive and you’ve got… you know a congested sinuses, and you also can’t equalise your middle ear, you can’t equalise your ears? I mean it’s not like that the ears and sinuses are really connected, it’s not like having blocked sinuses will mean you have blocked ears. Most of the time it’s because of vacuums that are building up in these areas that are not allowing you to create enough pressure in the nasal cavity. So, this is just to flesh out our understanding of vacuums.
Alright, so let’s get down to the maze, let’s get down to the actual technique of this deep frenzel. It would obviously go to that saying that we’ll be using the H-lock for this form of frenzel equalisation, dang, that’s our friend. We’re all using the H-lock from now on, we’re H friends. So, we’re using the H-lock. The other thing that is key to this from of frenzeling is being able to reverse pack with skill and precision. Now, what is a reverse pack?
A reverse pack is when we use a vacuum in the mouth to suck up air from the lungs, this also gets called a grouper call or a groper call but really it is a reverse pack. And this is the absolute standard method for getting air from the lungs into the mouth for a frenzel equalisation. Now, we’re just gonna play around with or we’re gonna learn how to do it with more precision and factoring a few more extra things, so we can do it deeper. A reverse pack formed by putting our tongue to one of these frenzel positions, closing our vocal fold, and then we drop our vocal fold in our throat and the base of our tongue down, and then once our throat is dropped, we open up the vocal fold and close it. And what we’ve actually done here is the same as in the example in the balloon, in the case where we had the air in the balloon, we stretched it out and we made a vacuum in there, we have created a seal in our tongue and with our vocal fold, and then we stretched that space out, so we’ve decreased the air pressure in the back of our mouth, so we’ve purposely created a vacuum. And then we quickly open our vocal fold and air is sucked from the lungs into the back of the mouth.
Now, you can exaggerate this, this is why it is called a grouper call because of this noise *incoherent noise* so that’s an exaggerated reverse pack. So, the sound that you’re hearing is the air rattling through my vocal cords as I open up my vocal fold and the air gets sucked up. Now, if you’re not able to do a reverse pack, keep in mind when we make these noise that’s me exaggerating the movement. Ideally you don’t want to hear a noise at all, but if you’re not able to do a reverse pack I have a detailed tutorial on my patreon page on how to perform them.
So, we have our tongue in one of our frenzel position, usually the H position because we’re H frenzeling. We close the vocal fold, we drop the vocal fold, we create a vacuum by doing that, we open the vocal fold and then we relax, and let the vocal fold rise back up and as that happens air is sucked from the lungs into the mouth. And then we have air in the mouth, and then now that our vocal fold is obviously closed back up, we can push with our tongue and frenzel equalize.
Now, I know that a moment ago I was talking about the different frenzel volumes, but obviously we’re not going to completely refill our mouth every time we do a reverse pack. Usually we just topping up the air that’s inside this and we’re only needing to suck up 20 ml’s, 30 ml’s, 40 ml’s at a time. So, this is the exercise that I want you to do now, we’re going to a passive exhale, and you’re going to H frenzel all the air out of your nose. I’m trying to frenzel there at the end, right? And there was no more air in my nasal cavity or in the back of my mouth, so what I’ve done is push frenzel and just let the air escape, close it back up, so the air isn’t getting sucked up back into the nostrils, and then again equalise, just equalise all the air out of your mouth without sucking any new air up.
So, frenzel out all of the air in your oral cavity and nasal cavity, and then once everything is gone, I want you to see how small a piece of air you have to suck up in order to be able to equalise again. And we do this continuously playing with the volumes that we need to suck up, what you’re gonna find is that you actually need a minute amount of air to be able to equalise again.
You can see my throat moving, working as I either push up to frenzel or as I pull down to reverse pack. So we now know how tiny a volume of air we actually need to be able to perform a frenzel equalisation, we realize that the reverse pack that we need to be able to do is tiny. So I hope that when you’re playing around with the different volumes or like frenzeling out all the air, you realize that you could just do these tiny, tiny, minute inaudible so there’s no sound, these tiny reverse packs and still have enough air to do a frenzel equalization.
So, now I’m gonna get onto the most common mistake that people make with the frenzel, I’m gonna talk about why this technique may not be working for you, or why something, or why your frenzel in general is not working deeper than maybe 25 to 35 meters depending on what your dive level is at. The reason for this is that you might not be reverse packing often enough, you’ve got to be doing it constantly, so usually after 25 meters for every single frenzel equalization that you do, you do another reverse pack for the next one. Basically what happens because when we’re diving in the shallower range is zero to 20 meter range, you can do a reverse pack and get few frenzels out of it. But when we’re deeper, when there’s less available air in our lungs or the air in our mouth might be a bit more compressed, we usually need to be bringing out air constantly.
So, after every single frenzel equalisation that you do, you suck up air in preparation for the next one. Do you remember a moment ago I was talking about this noise, that noise, that is the noise of someone struggling to do a reverse pack, that’s the noise of someone struggling to bring up air. And the reason for that is, you cannot create a vacuum in the back of your mouth in the way that you need to to suck up air from your lungs, if you already have a vacuum manifesting or building up in your mouth. So, if you’ve already got a vacuum there without having pulled your throat down, you’re not gonna be able to physically pull your throat down. Because the vacuum is gonna be pulling all your tissues, your tongue, your throat everything around it to be pulling it towards the vacuum, so if you let a vacuum build up in your mouth before you’ve performed your reverse pack, you will not be able to perform a reverse pack.
This is absolutely key and do you remember we started this video by saying, how we’re gonna shift our thinking from equalising the ear to equalising all the air spaces and I drew the line going into the nasal cavity, the sinuses, the mask and the middle ear? Now we’re gonna include the oral cavity in what we think of having to equalised. The only air space we don’t have to equalise is the lungs, we have to keep the oral cavity equalised in order to continue to suck air from the lungs into the oral cavity and then we use the oral cavity to equalise the rest of our air spaces.
Another common mistake that people make when they try to frezel deeper, is that they are not fast enough with their equalisation. There are customs to the speed in which they have to equalise when there are 10, 20, maybe 30 odd meters and it’s slower at those depths. But when we’re deeper, the second we suck the air up into our mouth, because we’re dealing with small, small portions of air now, right? We’re only sucking up little tiny bits of air into the mouth and because we’re sucking up tiny bits of air into the mouth, it means that those tiny bits of air can be compressed quickly. So, the second you reverse pack you frenzel, and then you reverse pack again and you frenzel. But there’s only a split second between your reverse pack and your frenzel, this is the speed. I’m doing a loud one so you can hear me in a camera but obviously when I’m doing this actually it’s inaudible, there’s no noise.
Right, you can see my nostrils flaring. Fast, so equalise quickly after you reverse pack the air up and don’t wait long enough for a vacuum to develop before you perform your next reverse pack. Now this frenzel equalisation method can be done to unlimited depths, I’ve used to method to equalise beyond a hundred meters and other several divers have used this to equalise deeper than I have.
Is it better to frenzel deep or is it better to be able to perform a mouth fill? Well it’s just a matter of preference, some people are more naturally inclined to frenzeling, some people are naturally more inclined to mouth fill. And I don’t feel like at this point of time we need to box people into all learning one equalisation method, there are many ways to do this, there are many ways to freedive. This is just a method and if it works for you, fantastic! If it doesn’t, that’s great as well.
So, what are some of dangers that we encounter doing deeper frenzel that we may not encounter performing mouth fill or doing mouth fill equalisation? Well for starters, usually if we are doing deep frenzel we need to progress a little bit slower that if we were doing mouth fill equalisation. Usually the body requires a stronger mammalian dive reflex and a stronger adaptation to depth to be able to suck the air up into the mouth, and the reason for this is very simple.
When we’re doing mouth fill equalisation, your lung volume after you take your mouth fill decreases very steadily as you go down. Alright? And it shrinks and shrinks and shrinks and shrinks. When we’re doing deep frenzel, our lung volume shrinks in stages or it shrinks in steps, you’re going down every time you suck up, it goes in like instantly like that and you’re going down, alright? So you’re having more rapid and jagged lung volume decreases, and so usually we need a stronger blood shift to accommodate this or we need more flexibility or in general just a greater relaxation of the thoracic cavity.
So, those who’ll be using deep frenzel will most likely progress slower than those doing mouth fill, but if you like to frenzel it’ll be fast enough, trust me. I’ve progressed pretty quickly using deep frenzel and I don’t think you’ll have any issues as well. The other big concern is actually trachea squeezes because we’re moving the throat around so much, because we’re sucking the air up in small gulps. We leave ourselves open to bursting blood vessels in the trachea and throat. So trachea squeezes are more common in frenzel equalisers that they are in mouth fill equalisers.
For me personally, I’ve observed that lung squeezes though are a little bit more common in mouth fill equalisers than they are in frenzel equalisers and the reason for that, is because you usually require that slower progression and that greater level of flexibility and adaptation to continue going deeper and deeper with frenzel. Whereas, with mouth fill as long as you master the equalisation technique you can just go boom, boom, boom, boom down, down really quickly. And the other aspects of your body may not be ready for the depth, by which I mean your mammalian dive reflex, your flexibility, your level of physical and mental relaxation, and the ability to disengage this whole part of your body. That might not be at the same level as your mouth fill, and so I have noticed that there are more squeezes, lung squeezes sorry, with mouth fillers but there are significantly more trachea squeezes with “deep frenzelists”.
So it is just something you have to be careful of, to know that it exist, to be aware that it could happen and to mitigate the risk by controlling your depth progression, by not doing a deep reverse pack if you’re not completely relaxed, by not progressing too quickly, not trying to progress a few minutes at a time, not trying to you know, PB every single time you go diving, your body won’t be able to handle that with deep frenzel.
Though just in general just to summarise it all again, we are doing a small little reverse pack by creating a vacuum in the back of the mouth and then letting the air wash in there from the lungs. We are using H frenzel with them to quickly frenzel the air into the, into our nasal cavity which then we distribute into our ears, sinuses, therefore wearing a mask, a mask. And that is in short the basics of deep frenzel, obviously we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing it often enough, we’re doing it fast enough, we’re gonna do it with precision. We have to do it with a lot of precision, especially when it comes to the size of the reverse pack that we’re taking.
So, that exercise where you frenzel all the air out of your nose and then just work with sucking air up, equalising sucking air up, equalising is super important and the best way to get skill at this form of deep frenzel.
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