Leg Strong - Training Legs for Diving

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Leg Strong - Training Legs for Diving

June 30, 2014 - 15:42
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When exercising the legs to keep them strong for scuba diving, it is important to develop muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. The legs must be versatile for diving activities, which place unique demands on the body.

During this leg workout, divers will benefit from imagining themselves: safely rising from a seated position under the weight of gear; climbing boat ladders; traversing uneven shore terrain; turtling distances on the surface, moving against and across currents; kicking into high gear in an emergency; positioning the body for underwater photography; maintaining overall self-control preventing collisions with reefs and other divers with efficient fin-kick swimming.

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Divers also need to be particularly aware of balanced leg strength to maximize equipment design. The most ideal set of fins will function better with good muscle balance and biomechanics of the legs. The focus of this fitness for diving workout is training the muscles of the legs, for strength, endurance and flexibility to aid in proper function of the hip and knee joints.

Body mechanics

Most leg exercises train more than one muscle group with each movement. Without getting overly complicated, a close stance targets the outer thigh (abductors), but in the same position, simply pressing the thighs together, as if squeezing a ball between the knees, focuses on the inner thigh (adductors). A wide stance targets the inner thigh (adductors), yet in the same position, pressing away from the center of the body against resistance targets the outer thigh (abductors).

Squats target the front upper thigh while leg extensions target the front lower thigh (quadriceps). The quadriceps muscles extend the knee joint so resistance against extension of the knee joint trains the front of the thigh (quadriceps). The hamstring muscles flex the knee joint so resistance during flexion of the knee trains the back of the thigh (hamstrings). These muscles of the upper leg also act on the hip joint. In the lower leg, the calf muscles assist forward movement when walking and fin-kick swimming.

Leg strength and endurance may also be developed with many forms of aerobic exercise such as walking, running, jumping rope, cycling, group exercise classes, dancing, hiking, swimming and sports activities. Leg muscle imbalance can affect gait, foot, hip and back comfort when performing aerobic activities possibly leading to injuries, pain and interruption of exercise programs.

Stretching is important for flexibility and muscle balance. For example, tight hamstrings often lead to low back complications and pain, and tight quadriceps may pull the knee cap (patella) out of alignment. A few minutes of stretching every morning will make a noticeable difference in how divers feel and move. Stretching is best performed after a warm-up or a hot shower.


The featured exercises are performed outside in a local park but with a bit of ingenuity the workout can be completed at a fitness facility or other indoor location. Some gyms have Sissy Squat apparatus that divers can lock their feet into instead of holding a rope or strap.


All that is needed for this workout is a good pair of athletic shoes, a strong cotton jump rope or strap, a dumbbell, and a set of stairs or curb (preferably with a railing). A sturdy tree trunk works well in lieu of a railing and a large rock might even do the trick instead of a dumbbell. It is not recommended to use exercise cables or jump ropes that stretch, diving weights that contain lead, or scuba tanks that lack good hand holds. It is also very important to hold the rope or strap not just the handles.


For all of the exercises in this workout inhale through the nose before starting the exercise and during the downward motion; exhale through the mouth during the upward motion (during exertion). If additional breaths are needed during hold positions, work to keep the rhythm and timing of the additional breaths in sequence with the exercise.


Distribute body weight evenly throughout the muscles of the lower body and keep the abdominal muscles contracted during all exercises.


Perform as many repetitions of each exercise as possible in one minute. Repeat the entire sequence one to four times. (...)

Originally published

on page 57

X-Ray Mag #61

June 30, 2014 - 17:46

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