Duck diving: take a deep breath

When a giant wave set overwhelms you, things can turn nightmarish pretty quick. Learning how to relax and make the most efficient use of the oxygen in your lungs can turn this nightmare into yet another challenge, which you'll be able to meet with confidence.

So, what are the best ways to physically increase your lung capacity? The total lung capacity of the average man is of six liters, but only a small percentage is used during normal breathing.

Being very small in body size, or being overweight/obese are some of the most difficult physical conditions to overcome when working on enhancing breathing power. Those who live at low altitudes and women also tend toward lesser lung capacity in general.

The oxygen capacity of our lungs will also naturally decline with age - at the rate of about 1% per year after the age of 25 - but with proper training, you can elevate your oxygen capacity by between 10-20%.

Increasing lung capacity is, therefore, critical for building competence - and confidence - in heavy wave conditions. It can mean the difference between a traumatic, panicked experience, and a relaxed, patient one if you happen to get caught by a long, heavy, endless wave set.

Knowing how to capture oxygen before being forced to dive underwater is important and can be trained and improved. Here are the most important lung training tips for surfers:

1. Stop smoking.
2. Design a simple stretching plan or a Pilates program.
3. Practice meditation or Yoga exercises.
4. Get a full inhale/exhale daily plan; do it completely and slowly.
5. Inhale deeply and splash your face with cold water to activate bradycardia.
6. Train apnea by walking underwater in a pool or out on the ocean floor.
7. Swim hard for 30 consecutive minutes, twice a week.
8. Run and workout at high altitudes.
9. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth.
10. Dive and stay down for the length of two waves.