Put aside time for aerobic conditioning and you will reap the benefits in all aspects of your life as well as your time in the water. Adding one or more of these types of aerobic exercises will improve the quality of your diving. Plus, read on for snacks to nosh on between dives.
Everyone knows that cardiovascular or aerobic exercises are great for your heart, but these important exercises can also help with the quality of your diving. When performing these exercises, you are training yourself for tasks that require fitness -- like finning against a current. Aerobic fitness creates a higher threshold of what you can do while still controlling your heart rate. This is important because when you can control your heart rate by leveling it out at a steady pace, you'll use less oxygen, which will help you get everything out of your tank. Whatever aerobic exercise you choose to do, shoot for at least 30 minutes, even if you need to split up the time in segments -- for example, 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night.
Let's look at a few of the most effective ways to train your cardio endurance, and remember, try to push yourself to do more than the previous time!
1) Rowing Machine
Targets >> Full-body aerobic exercise, strengthens hips and back
Diver Benefits >> Helps strengthen muscles used in swimming; improves aerobic conditioning for challenging dives
Start by placing feet in straps and grabbing the rowing handle with an overhand grip. Fully extend both legs and arms. As your knees straighten, gradually bend your arms and lean your upper body back. Bend your elbows and pull the handle into your abdomen. Extend your legs and lean back slightly at the hips. Extend your arms by straightening your elbows and returning the handle toward the flywheel. Lean your upper body forward at the hips to follow the arms. Gradually bend you knees and slide forward on the seat to the start position. Extend your arms straight toward the flywheel and keep your wrists flat. Slide forward on the seat until your shins are vertical and lean forward slightly at the hips. You are ready to take the next stroke. This takes some practice -- plus, you'll need to have access to a rowing machine, but you'll love the benefits you'll reap if you stick with it.
2) Elliptical Trainer
Targets >> Full-body aerobic exercise, strengthens hips
Diver Benefit >> Improves kicking; joint friendly
It's a lot like pedaling a bike while standing: Start by standing on steps and holding the handles, and then push on the foot pedals in a forward motion. Always stand straight and avoid leaning into the handlebars. One great thing about the elliptical is that you're not limited to one direction -- you can switch to a reverse pedaling, which is a great way to spike your heart rate. Also, if your trainer has moving handlebars, you can get an even better full-body workout.
3) Walking or Jogging
Targets >> Builds endurance for long swims; strengthens legs
Diver Benefit >> Can be done anywhere
This is one of the most popular aerobic exercises because you will be able to walk or jog wherever you are, both indoors and outdoors. Want to bump up the intensity? Whether on a treadmill or walking around your neighborhood, head for the hills. This will create a challenging workout that will increase your heart rate.
Five Tips for Sticking to an Exercise Routine
• Set goals for yourself. When starting out, decide what you want to achieve — maybe it is to run a mile without stopping or to complete a 5K walk. Then, add to your goals; for example, decide to increase your distance or lower your pace.
• Find a partner to help motivate you to stick with your workout on those days you don't feel like taking the time.
• If you are able to switch between different types of exercises, try cross-training. Try walk-running if you're primarily a walker, or add swimming or biking to your weekly schedule. Even if you are only able to walk, switch up your pace to change your heart rate. Don't stay static.
• Find another reason for exercising — such as to lose weight, lower cholesterol, or lower blood pressure — because it will give you more reasons to stay with your program.
• Always start off slow — start with a reasonable distance and pace and schedule days off for recovery.
Nutrition Tip > In between dives during a multiday dive vacation, it is important to refuel and rehydrate. When choosing snacks, include ones high in carbohydrates, which helps rebuild energy, and protein, which helps with recovery. Good choices include:
• sports or breakfast bars
• peanut butter or cheese crackers
• dry cereal
• trail mix with cereal, nuts, and dried fruit
• granola or cereal bars
• graham crackers
Chadd Lin is a certified personal trainer with a B.S. in exercise science. He makes his home in Tennessee.