Improve diver fitness with these 6 strength exercises

Ever found yourself getting tired and puffed out when diving? Winter is a great time to get working on your fitness, building muscle strength to improve your stamina when diving. Try some weights training a couple of times a week to see improvements in your overall strength and fitness. These exercises are great for improving diver strength and here is why…

Farmers walks with Kettle Bells (or similar)

Lining up two kettle bells on the ground (option to also use dumbbells or something else weighted), squat down and lift each kettlebell simultaneously. Place by your sides, long and activated and allow your shoulder blades to melt down your back. Squeeze your arms into your sides like you are trying to hold a newspaper between them, and with control over the kettlebells (don’t allow them to swing), walk laps holding a strong core and strong back. Start at 30 seconds and build up to 2 minutes or more. Repeat 2 or 3 sets in a workout.

How it helps: Lifting and carrying tanks while maintaining your back.


Upright rows with dumbbells

Position yourself with feet hip width apart, draw core on tight and relax shoulders down. Set two dumbbells horizontally in front of your body with an overhand grip. Lift hands up straight in front of body to chest height, elbows go out and as high as possible. Make sure that elbows are always higher than wrists. Repeat 10 – 20 reps x 2 or 3 sets.

How it helps: Lifting gear onto your back, tanks in and out of cars. 

Rotating side planks

Set yourself in a prone high plank, up on hands, hands under shoulders, feet hip width apart (or slightly wider). Keep core on tight. Put weight onto right hand, rotate whole body and lift left hand into the air, so that body is facing right, then alternate onto the right hand and repeat. Make sure that feet follow through and turn as well and bum is tucked in. Repeat 5 – 10 times per side. Repeat 2 to 3 sets in the workout.

How it helps: Oblique strength to allow twisting and movement while maintaining strong core

Weighted step ups

Find a high step, box or bench and, with your weights in both hands, keeping body upright and core activated, step up onto the box with the left leg and then lead down with the left leg. Repeat 10 to 15 x on one side, then change legs. Ensure that you keep your body upright and don’t lean on a leg to get up. Weight and arms by your side.

(Option to do step ups without weight and build to weighted).

How it helps: Power in legs for finning and also strength getting on and off boat

Renegade rows

In a prone position with either knees on the floor or feet wide and in a plank, hands on dumbbells under shoulders, row one arm back so the elbow bends towards the ceiling, hand aligned under shoulder then alternate. Focus on squeezing between the shoulder blades and not overloading the shoulders. Then alternate sides. Repeat 10 to 15 x per side. If on feet, keep hips stable and try not to rock from side to side. Option to start on knees. Keep core active. (Option to row on knees and not in a plank position)

How it helps: Back strength for carrying heavy dive gear and upper body strength for getting up ladders etc.

Squat push press

Set your legs hip width apart, hands in with dumbbells and inline with shoulders, squat down and extend your arms fully overhead, squat to catch and repeat. Brace your core and use the power of your legs to push the weight overhead. Repeat 10 – 20 x and 2 – 3 sets in your workout.

Note: Take out the overhead press if you have any shoulder or neck issues.

How it helps: Leg strength for finning and shoulder strength for carrying gear and climbing onto boat.

Try adding some of these great exercises to your workout to tailor your training to your diving needs.

Weights training at least two times a week will start to get you the results you desire, and remember – consistency is key. If you are in doubt about any of these exercises, consult an exercise therapist or personal trainer to assist you in correct technique.

This article has been written by Carmen Bolton, Cert IV Fitness (Master Trainer), PADI Divemaster and owner of Goal Getters Personal Training in Warriewood. 

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