Scuba requires more strength and muscular endurance than most divers realize. You get a tremendous workout every time you go for a dive and haul heavy tanks, hoist your loaded-down body up skinny ladders, and schlep your bulky gear bags from beach to boat. Add to that the energy it takes to swim across the surface and flip your fins for 30 minutes to an hour.
This month’s Healthy Diver is designed to target key diving muscles, so you can enjoy multidive days without wearing out. Strong muscles also improve your body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently, so your tank lasts longer. Vanity bonus: Increasing your muscle tissue boosts your calorie-burning metabolism, so that wetsuit that mysteriously shrank from last year may fit just right again. Plus, we’ve got your perfect predive meal to boost your energy levels.
The main muscle groups that you use during your dive are shoulders, back and hips. Try these easy exercises (some require handheld weights).
1) Shoulder Press
Focus >> Shoulders and upper chest
With palms facing forwards, position the dumbbells to each side of shoulders with elbows below the wrists. Press slowly upwards until arms are extended overhead. Then slowly return to top of shoulders. Try to repeat 20 times, but focus on form rather than the number of reps or amount of weight.
2) Front Raise and Lateral Raise
Focus >> Shoulders
The front and lateral raise combo is a combination of a front raise and a side raise. Gripping the weights in each palm with your arms relaxed at your sides, raise your arms in front of your body to shoulder height, palms facing downwards. Pause and slowly return your arms to your sides. Now, do a lateral raise by lifting your arms to the sides to shoulder height. Keep alternating between the front and side raise, focusing on your form.
1) Standing Back Extensions
Focus >> Lower back
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Slowly bend at the hips only and push your glutes back, putting all the pressure on your back and hamstrings. Keep looking forwards with your head up and shoulders back, avoiding a curve in your upper back. Bend as far as possible while still keeping your form and return to the upright position. To get maximum benefit, do this exercise very slowly.
2) Bent Over Row
Focus >> Upper back
Bend over, while keeping your back straight. Hold on to a chair or wall and grasp dumbbell from floor. Pull dumbbell to up to side until it makes contact with ribs or until upper arm is just beyond horizontal. Return until arm is extended and shoulder is stretched downwards. Focus on pulling your shoulder blade into your spine. Repeat and then switch sides.
1) Body Weight Squats
Focus >> Quadriceps, hips and glutes
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Think about pushing your butt back so that your knees don’t go over your feet — this is extremely important because all the weight should be on your hips and not your knees. Pause, and slowly stand back up.
Five tips for your exercise routine
1) Mix and match exercises: Do one hip, one back and one shoulder and then keep rotating.
2) When can comfortably do 15 reps, gradually keep adding reps (not weight).
3) Form is the most important thing to focus on for any exercise.
4) When starting a program, perform each exercise at least twice; after about a week or two, add in sets up to four
5) Be creative and most important, have fun with it!
Nutrition Tip > Before your dive, it is important to eat the right foods so that you have plenty of energy during your dive. It’s also important not to eat foods that could cause cramps. Foods to avoid are high in fats and simple sugars like large amounts of alcohol or desserts. Carbohydrates and proteins provide plenty of sustained energy for long dive days. A perfect predive meal would be a carb like pasta or rice (avoid creamy sauces) paired with any type of meat.
Chadd Lin is a certified personal trainer with a B.S. in exercise science. He makes his home in Tennessee.