Appeared in DIVER March 2001

Babs Gibsons scuba work-out

Before launching into action, warm up for a couple of minutes. Move about and stretch.
Do at least 20 minutes of continuous aerobic work at least every other day. This means any activity that makes your heart beat faster and forces you to breathe harder, whether its fast walking, jogging, skipping, rowing, dancing, swimming or playing football.
Vary the type of activity, and push yourself to get your heart pumping fast. If you ever start to feel rough or tired when exercising, slow down and drink water. Stop if you feel any pain.
After vigorous exercise, ease down gently until your heart rate returns to normal. Stretch the muscles youve been using.

clear=all>hspace=5 STRENGTH-BUILDING
Static exercises on the floor or using weights rely on good technique to be effective. If you havent done them before, they are difficult to perform safely and effectively without someone to demonstrate and guide you. A qualified fitness instructor is the best person to do this. Dont perform any exercise that causes you pain, and be especially careful with your back.
Diving involves just about every muscle in your body, but those put under the most strain are abdominals, central to your torso. They are very important for your posture and for supporting your back both in and out of the water.

hspace=5 A sit-up is a bad name for the exercise because you dont want to bring yourself up as far as a sitting position. Its more of a curl forward, using the muscles around your stomach to lift your head and shoulders off the floor.
This mostly works the top area of your stomach. If you work out regularly you can use a weight, such as a small cylinder, for extra resistance.
For best results, ensure that the exercises are performed slowly and with control, lift to a count of five while breathing out at the same time, hold for a count of three, and lower to a count of three while breathing in.
You need do only 10 of each exercise if performed in this way.

These work the obliques - the muscles at each side of your stomach. Combined with the front abdominal and back muscles, they form a natural corset around the torso and help shape your waist.
Use the same technique as above but add a twist, lifting your right shoulder towards the opposite knee. Keep your left shoulder on the ground while doing this. Repeat on the opposite side.

A crunch concentrates more on the lower stomach. Lie on your back with your legs in the air, crossed at the ankle, and use your stomach muscles to push your feet towards the ceiling, lifting your bottom slightly off the floor. If you want to work harder, you can perform a curl with your upper body at the same time.

hspace=5 The abdominal muscles go all the way around your middle, so ideally you need to work the ones which protect your lower back. Lie on your front, keep your legs and head relaxed, and look straight down at the floor.
Use your back muscles to lift your upper body gently a few inches off the floor. Hold for a second, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and relax as you lower. This also increases strength in your upper back and can improve posture. Perform sets of 10, with a rest in-between.
Another good tip to protect your back is always to think about posture - walk tall and proud!

Glutes are the large muscles at the back of your thigh used for standing up (in all that kit) and finning.
A squat is basically the action of sitting down and standing up but without a chair. Place your feet hip-width apart and squat, keeping your weight on your heels. Hold it, and stand back up, squeezing the muscles in your bum as you do. For extra resistance, hold weights or a bar on your shoulders. Repeat in sets of 10.
A lunge means taking a large step forward, with the knee on your back leg going down towards the floor - like the action fencers make when they attack only you should do it more slowly!
Keep your torso upright and your weight central. The knee of your front leg should be at 90°, so your bodyweight is focused downwards, not forwards. Step back, repeat in sets of 10 and change your leading leg.
Stretch out the muscles youve used after working them (and put that cylinder down first!).

  • Babs Gibson is an instructor at Sequinpark Gym, GP exercise referrals co-ordinator for Camden Councils Sports Department and a personal trainer. Our thanks to Sequinpark for use of its gym for our photographs.