Sea Legs — Power, Strength & Endurance for Diving

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Sea Legs — Power, Strength & Endurance for Diving

September 05, 2013 - 09:40
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When shore diving, divers often have to overcome an obstacle course to get to their favorite dive spot. Beach access may be by stairs and always includes walking across grass, concrete, sand or rocks. Entries and exits are in varying surf conditions and divers regularly “kick out” or “turtle” for extended distances on the surface to conserve air before dropping down to dive.

Lying leg curl with dumb bell

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Sports fitness regimes typically separate power, strength and endurance into off-season, pre-season and in-season programming. Scuba divers, however, can develop their sea legs by combining power, strength and endurance into the same workout.

Time, tension and rest

To develop lower body fitness ideal for diving, exercises that combine the major muscles of the legs, hips and buttocks must be performed with variations of time, tension and rest.

Striking the best balance of time, tension and rest is accomplished with sets, repetitions, intervals and resistance. By changing the amount of weight lifted and the duration of both the exercise and rest period, different combinations of muscle fibers are recruited and different training goals are achieved. A set performed with the adequate (balanced) resistance and duration produces an oxygen deficit in the muscle cells causing fatigue or failure within a predetermined number of repetitions.

As the resistance (weight lifted) increases, fewer repetitions are usually performed and rests between sets are longer. After a rest of from 30 seconds for foundational fitness to as much as three to five minutes for power athletes, oxygen has been restored and the muscles are able to perform again. The more sets performed, the greater the training demand.


To develop power, perform exercises with as much weight as possible for four to ten repetitions for three to five sets with a rest period of one to three minutes. To elicit an adaptive response the last two repetitions should feel difficult to perform.


To develop strength, perform exercises with as much weight as possible for 12 to 15 repetitions for one to three sets with a rest period of 30 seconds to one minute. To elicit an adaptive response, the last three repetitions should feel difficult to perform.


To develop endurance, perform exercises for 15 repetitions or more including intervals of one to three minutes one to three times with as much weight as possible and no rest period between exercises. To elicit an adaptive response, the last 15 seconds should feel difficult to perform.

The workout

Begin with a 10- to 20-minute warm-up of aerobic exercise to prevent injury. Divers with more lean muscle mass benefit from a longer warm-up.
 Finish the workout with an additional 10 to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise to prevent soreness. For fat loss, continue an additional 10 to 20 minutes.
 Combining power, strength and endurance into the same exercise session may initially result in increased “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS). DOMS, if it occurs, should peak and subside within 24 to 36 hours after the workout.

Work into the routine gradually and at an individual level. Stay well hydrated before, during and after the workout.
As with any exercise program, as the workout gets easier continue to safely increase the resistance.


To begin, perform each exercise for power one set, for strength one set, and for endurance one set, then repeat one to three times.


For an ultimate workout, perform each exercise for the entire power sequence (five sets), then for the entire strength sequence (three sets), then for the entire endurance sequence (three sets) before moving on to the next exercise. Select three to five exercises.


The featured exercises are presented with dumb bells but may also be performed with barbells and plates or modular fitness machines. Additional lower body exercises include, but are not limited to, the Leg Press, Smith Machine, Wall Sit, Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Dead Lift, Adduction, Abduction, and Calf Raise.

Equipment may be mixed and matched for additional variety. For example, a leg press is ideal for power exercises because greater weight can be used to perform the exercise. Cable stations may be well-suited to endurance sequences.
 Be creative and safe. Select and perform only those exercises well-tolerated by individual fitness and mobility (i.e. use caution with any knee, back or musculoskeletal conditions).


To perform the squat, hold dumb bells alongside the body, contract the abdominals, inhale deeply through the nose, and sit down and back as if reaching for a chair that is too far away. Bend the knee and hip joints until right angles are achieved at each joint and at the ankle. Knees should always be just above or behind the toes. The dumb bells may shift forward and the head may look ....


Originally published

on page 72

X-Ray Mag #56

September 03, 2013 - 14:49

Diving Indonesia's Lembeh Strait and Buyat Bay; Mexico's Sea of Cortez; Portugal's artificial reef; Sidemount diving; Hardhat diving; Opening up closed circuit; Interview with Mike Fletcher; Beyond the muck ecology; Sea legs for dive fitness; Wide-macro fisheye photography for critters; Mirrorless macro underwater photography; Sharon Brill portfolio; Plus news and discoveries, equipment and training news, books and media, underwater photo and video equipment, turtle news, shark tales, whale tales and much more...

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