Technical Diver Fitness
Big Blue Tech introduced physical fitness pre-requisites to their courses in 2009 creating a standard of strength, stamina and mental determination which helps build team trust in ability and a willingness to work towards a goal.
In scuba diving, physical fitness screening has been shown to improve performance and weed out unsuitable technical divers who are just not capable of being strong independent technical divers or are enrolling in this type of diving without fully understanding the risks and are simply paying their way through a system of money first upfront card guaranteed that is systemic in the diving industry, but there are ways people can work to make them selves prepared for technical diving to ensure they are well prepared physically so they can receive the challenging training required to prepare them for the future.
The standard we use before students dive with 4 tanks (after tech level 1) is the following:
Must complete a minimum of a score of 4 on all PADI Dive Master Stamina Swims
10 Squats in gear
5 press‐ups in gear
1 pull up in gear
Stand for 10 minutes, Walk constantly for 10 minutes in gear
Lift fully assembled technical diving gear above waist level with arms straight.
Not everyone can do this, but there are many reasons why as a technical diver you should be able to. If you imagine you have a lot of weight on you, in the water this weight is distributed making it seem like less of an issue. However if you had to rescue yourself or a buddy the weight your carrying becomes a significant factor. The test is designed to determine if divers will need help out of the water, if wearing 4 11L cylinders will be too much and if they can’t complete the tests are they willing to work hard to get accepted into the course.
This became an issue recently when one of our students failed the swim tests. We stopped the progression of his course and started building his stamina with extra curricular swims and long distance trekking and running every morning. By the time he could pass his swims the accomplishment gave him a great sense of reward and can be seen visibly more stable and confident in his technical diving gear.
Since our return from Khao Sok the entire training team has been meeting at 7am and exercising before work allowing the students to see the training team struggling too and building together.
The fitness program we have adopted requires no expensive gym membership or fancy machines that shake you. What is required is an hour a day and some personal motivation, the reason behind this move can be illustrated better in how your body interacts with the environment using simple press-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and running or swimming.
In technical diving, the whole body is used for extended periods of time. That means you also need to develop muscle endurance. Water is a weight on the body. That forces extra exertion the whole time you are diving.
Movements are necessarily slower and the calorie output is kept at a high level. When you build conditioning, you must overcome the gravitational pull during the workouts. This is ideal resistance training that transfers to developing fitness for technical scuba diving perfectly.
Fitness for technical diving includes building endurance also, because the cold water makes body heat loss more rapid. This can zap energy levels. Good cardio vascular conditioning will improve respiratory efficiency. Natural workouts provide great aerobic conditioning. When you do the exercises, your heart will soon be pumping hard! This kind of exertion creates a healthy heart and lung system that will be called upon while diving.
A scuba diver must also be fit because of the intense physical workout that diving requires. Fitness for scuba diving includes conditioning for a lot more than just diving. A diver also must also do a lot of swimming and lifting. A technical diver must have very strong core muscles for diving in addition to the overall fitness level.
Fitness for scuba diving is quickly achieved with natural training. The exercises require squatting, lifting, cardio moves, pressing and lots of abdomen work. Natural training will build strong shoulders, back and leg muscles. From head to toe you will become fit quicker than through any other program. You spend a lot of money on scuba diving and the last thing you want is to have your time ruined due to being out of shape.
Strength training should be a crucial component of any exercise program intended to develop fitness for scuba diving. Not only will strength training burn fat, it is necessary for building coordination and muscle response. The truth of the matter is you must sweat off fat if you want to be insured of getting cardiovascular benefits and overall conditioning results.
This morning a group of 4 completed a 4 mile hike from sea level to 300m. We set off at 7am and reached the summit at 7:30 looking down on the island. This was a hard climb without many breaks. On the way down we introduced some pyramid games where you split in teams and do press-ups in the sequence 10,9,8,7,6 etc taking turns to give rest but never breaking the press-up posistion, the situps in the same sequence and a prticularly cheeky ending of spelling the alphabet with our feet together and legs straight in the air. Half way down the mountain we did some “work, rest, play” where on man rests, the next does situps or press-ups and ther other sprints, shifting roles each turn.
These types of exercises are essential because it requires a team effort. If one man is too slow at his press-ups it leaves the others struggling in the stress position. It is also quite hard to get injuries since you’re using you’re own weight and natural resistance and you don’t just build big slow muscles but lean strong muscles which are prefered for technical diving.
These exercises along with enforced drug ban and no alcohol 16 hours before a dive will have our students walking out fitter, stronger and better divers then when they walked in.