Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Weight Training for Freediving

Let’s face it, not all of us have the luxury to dive everyday of the week. We all have day to day obligations that prevent us from diving everyday (unless you are blessed with a trust fund that allows you to spend all your time doing what we love most)

In the past, I have written several articles about various training topics, mainly dealing with spending time in the pool swimming laps. As many will attest, that can become quite monotonous in a short period of time. You can only do so many variations in the pool before you begin to dread getting in the same environment again, day in and day out.

Weight training for diving provides a break up from the repetitious grind of swimming laps in a pool.

Diving, no matter if it is freediving, or scuba, really demands an all body workout approach to exercising. And as with any exercise program, if you haven’t already done so, you may want to get the ok from your physician before attempting these exercises, especially if you are over 30, are over weight, or have any type of condition that would necessitate seeing a physician.

Modest amounts of weight training, specifically aerobic weight training, allows you to improve muscle tone, adapt specific muscle groups to the sport and to provide an overall feeling of well being.

Do you need to have a membership to a gym in order to do this program? Not at all. In fact, all of these exercises can be done in the privacy of your home with little monitary investment.

Below is a listing of exercises I have come up with that have helped me not only become stronger, but I can personally claim that I have lost weight (17 lbs so far) and it has also given me more self confidence in myself and my appearance – and that is always a good thing 🙂

Perform these exercises two to three times a week. To improve your stamina and strength, I would recommend doing them in rapid succession, with only about 60 seconds rest in between. Try starting out doing 2 – 3 sets of each exercise, and watch your body tone up within 3 weeks. Also, recent information indicates that a slow range of movement during each of these lifts will speed development of strength and definition of each of the muscle groups, by as much as 50%.

This also helps to reduce injury due to jerky movements while lifting.

I recommend a warm up period of at least 5 minutes, basically doing stretches and getting the blood pumping a little bit.

Lower body lifting

Squats: From my research, I discovered that this targeted exercise hits 256 different muscles. This can be done in stages. If you are just starting out, I would recommend trying this without any weights. Squat slowly until your upper thighs are almost parallel to the floor. At that point, pause and then slowly straighten up again. As you begin to feel as though you are no longer getting any benefit without the weights, you can then either support a barbell with weight on it across the back of your shoulders or you can utilize weighted dumbells in each hands. In both instances, to help you maintain balance, keep your head up, your back straight and your feet approximately shoulder width apart.

Calf Raises: I have my own variation on this lift which doesn’t require anything other than your own body weight. Standing in a doorway, support yourself with one hand. Hook one ankle behind the leg that will be worked out. Standing flat footed with your toes pointed forward, slowly raise up onto your toes until you are fully extended. Hold for a second then slowly lower yourself. Do this as many times as you can until failure. This will build endurance in this critical muscle group, help to reduce cramping and will define it without bulk. Switch to the other foot and repeat.

Mid section

Stomach Crunches – After additional research, I discovered that if you are overweight and you do crunches, no matter how many you do, it will not remove the paunch that currently exists. So don’t think that by doing these that you will have that wash-board abdomen that is so often seen on many athletes or models. Lose the weight first if you are going for this. The primary reason for doing this exercise is to aleviate stress on your lower back when wearing a weight belt and scuba tank (if tank diving). Lie on your back with your knees bent to prevent undue stress on your lower back. Cross your arms on your chest and slowly curl your body up until your shoulder blades are approximately 4-6 inches off the floor. Hold for approximately 5 seconds then slowly lower yourself. Do as many reps as you possibly can.

Upper body

Ok – this is my favorite area to work out. If you want to see the most results in the quickest amount of time, this area of the body shows it first.

Bicep curls: I utilize a french curling bar, but a set of dumbells works as well. Begin by slowly lifting the weight from the fully extended position to a fully cucrled position, flexing the bicep muscle. Then slowly uncurl, never letting the muscle rest. Repeat. I typically do a 4-5 sets of bicep curls with 50 pounds and change my hand position to work different portions of the bicep. When I can no longer lift the bar, I know that one set is done. I alternate between this and the next lift during this set.

Upward rowing: After waiting 60 seconds, I then take the same weight and with my hands approximately 4-5 inches apart, I begin the slow upward rowing motion. I stop at chin level and then slowly lower. Again, I repeat this until I can no longer lift the weight. I end up doing 4-5 sets as well.

Bench Press: Without a weight bench, it’s pretty difficult to get this one done. But a good friend of mine told me about how Arnold Swartzenegger got his world famous chest.

Elevated pushups: Take two chairs of equal height and face the seats towards each other, place then slightly wider than shoulder width apart. With each hand on the front edge of each seat and your feet on the floor close together, slowly lower yourself until your chest drops below the tops of the chairs, hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly raise up. Repeat until you cant do any more. Rest and then repeat. I typically do 3 sets with reps going from 15-12-10.

I have found that this regimen has greatly improved my upper body strength and overall appearance. I feel more comfortable in the water and have discovered that I do not tire as easily as I did before starting this workout.

I have become so addicted to this workout that I have been known to do it twice a day on some weeks. It has shown its results in my physical appearance and and my mental attitude in day to day life as well as while diving.

Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.


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