Summer Olympics diving is one of the main attractions of the games. So it’s no wonder why at this years Summer Olympics in London, some of the fittest athletes will be hitting the pool… literally. Yes, it’s the swimmers that get a lot of the glory for their lean, rippled physiques, and for good reason. They’re elite human beings built for speed and endurance. But arguably, some of the best conditioned athletes in the pool are those that attack it from above – divers.
These aerial acrobats have spent countless hours over several years working to flawlessly execute elaborate flips and twists… all while making it seem effortless. It takes a lot more than lap after lap in the pool. In fact, divers have to work nearly every single muscle group to be able to perform at Olympic levels. Shoulders lead the twisting and turning motions of the body. Arms keep bodies tucked or piked (and sometimes balanced in a handstand prior to the dive). Wrists must be straight and true to accomplish that “rip” entry into the water.
Legs must be capable of vaulting a diver into the air (with or without the assistance of a springboard). But it’s the core that must be strongest. Without solid abdominals and an equally strong back, the speed of a twist, the rotation of a somersault and the straight up-and-down position of the diver cannot be achieved. Talk about a total body workout.
Try a couple pool- and diving-board-based moves as part of your next outdoor workout. A great one to start with is laying at the end of the diving board (or if you’re new to core conditioning, the edge of the pool). Lie on your back with your hips just balanced on the very edge. Then – hold your legs out straight in front of you, without allowing them to dip lower than the plane of the diving board or dip into the water of the pool. Hold for 20 seconds, bring knees in to chest and repeat.
For some resistance training, get in the pool at a depth that comes up to your collarbones. Place your arms on the sides of the pool, with your back against the wall of the pool. Your feet should dangle freely with no weight. Attempt to bring your legs forward and up as fast as you can, trying to break the surface of the water with your toes. Make sure to keep your lower back against the pool wall as much as possible. Repeat 10-12 times.
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