Outdoor Fitness: Diving

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Ever wanted to explore parts of the world that many people just don’t get to see? Try diving. When the sun is shining and the water gets warmer, take to the sea to explore the ocean. Diving is a great way to see nature on the sea bed and swim with creatures that you never even knew existed.

For all aspects of diving, you need to be fit, which is a different type of ‘fit’ to running a marathon. The main way to do this is to go swimming and get used to the water. However, if you can’t swim, then the gym is a good place to start. I have chosen a series of exercises to help your general health and fitness, to enable you to dive. Remember, the better your body canutilise oxygen, the better your body will be at making oxygen last and dealing with muscle fatigue.

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1) Core bag lunge
For swimming and diving you need strong legs as they are used to propel you through the water. This exercise works one leg at a time. The easier option is to perform a body weight lunge, with no resistance. Once you feel this is comfortable, the harder option is to use some weighted resistance. I have used a core bag here but you can also use a barbell. Start standing with both feet together. Step one leg back and make sure your front leg thigh and back leg shin are parallel to the floor. Whilst keeping your balance in the lunge stance, bend your back knee and lower it to the floor. Push through the heel of your front foot and return to the lunge stance position. Repeat this for 10-15 reps on each leg and do this for three sets.

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2) Medicine ball push up
This is an advanced form of a push up. It will strengthen your chest and arms, mainly the Pectoralis Major and Triceps. Performing this exercise on a medicine ball will add instability and challenge you to maintain your balance throughout the movement. You may find you have one side stronger than the other, but it is important to complete the same amount of reps on each side. Start with one hand on the medicine ball and in the push up position. Lower your chest towards the floor, whilst keeping your hand on the ball. Aim for 10 reps on each side and complete three sets.

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3) Lat pull down
To strengthen the big muscles in the back, such as the Latissimus Dorsi and Rhomboids, try the Lat Pull down. These muscles work to help you swim and tread water. Select a weight that you can lift for approximately 10 reps. Adjust the pads so that your knees fit under them then take hold of the bar with an over hand grip. Slide your knees under the pads and bring the bar down towards your chest. Always keep the bar infront of you so that you can see the movement and avoid straining your neck. Try to do 10 reps for three sets.

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4) Core Plantar Flexion
Imagine the swimming movement you need to kick your feet. When you are underwater, the flick of the ankle joint from Dorsi to Plantar flexion is enough to help you glide though the water. For this exercise, lie down on your front. Relax your upper body as it is just the legs that are working. It is really important to keep both legs straight and point your toes. This will contract the Gastrocnemius, also known as your calf muscle. Flick your feet up and down in a straight leg kicking motion. This will help you strengthen your legs for when you are in the water and kick against resistance. Go as fast as you can with good form for 30 seconds. Repeat this for three sets.

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Burpees 1                                               Burpees 2                                                            Burpees 3

5) Burpees vs Plank single leg lift
The last exercise consists of two exercises back to back. The first is a burpee. From a standing position, jump down into a push up position, lower your chest to the floor, then push up, bend the knees and jump back to standing. Once you have done 10 reps of burpees, then you need to go into the second exercise which is a plank. The beginner option is to hold the plank, with your bum down and back straight, with both feet on the floor. The more advanced option is to lift one leg up into plantar flexion. This small adjustment will challenge your balance and work your core muscles harder as you try to hold that flat plank position. Work for 30 seconds and build up. If you are lifting one leg, then start 15 seconds lift for each side. Overall complete three sets.

Divers need a good VO2 Max so that their lung capacity is big enough to retain oxygen with a low amount of breaths. The best way to practice this would be to swim in the water and gradually dive to certain depths. However,these exercises will help you control your heart rate, your breathing and overall body strength, so that you are conditioned for diving, before you even set foot in the water.


 

Words By: Nicky Holland

Photos By: Keith Pereña

Nicky Holland
Fitness Manager
Fitness First Beach Park Plaza

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