Watching instructional videos or a professional diver’s GoPro video, you can’t help but think how they make it look so easy. What you don’t get is the sense of physical exertion the divers are going through. The equipment weighs over fifty pounds on average. Swimming demands high levels of endurance, especially when waters become unfriendly. If your body isn’t ready, you may get winded, exhausted, or risk injury. Cardiovascular training provides the ideal workout for divers that will ensure you’re prepared for the toughest dives.

What is Cardiovascular Training?

Cardiovascular training, more commonly known as cardio, is the focus on appropriately increasing the intensity of a workload to your muscles. Examples of intensity-based workloads include speed, elevation, grade or slope, and start-to-finish endpoints. The most common form of cardio is jogging and biking while a more advanced example would be an obstacle course.

Cardio demands more from your circulatory system, heart, and lungs as all three must work together in order to meet the external demands of the exercise.

Traditional Cardio vs. H.I.I.T.

The classic image of cardio is someone who looks bored out of their mind while walking on a treadmill for an hour. While traditional low intensity, long duration cardio may be beneficial for specific fitness populations such as the elderly or those recovering from an injury, the superior form of cardiovascular training, especially for divers, is high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.).

High intensity interval training is a fast-paced workout for divers that usually focuses on bodyweight-based exercises. These exercises activate multiple major muscle groups and they are performed in rapid succession with no rest in between. Studies have shown that H.I.I.T. produces better results than traditional low intensity cardio in the areas of fat loss, endurance, and muscle building.

Benefits of H.I.I.T. for Divers

Endurance: For divers, this is where it counts the most. You need an exceptional level of endurance in order to be able to load up your gear, get in the water, swim down, and then get yourself back to the boat. H.I.I.T. has been shown to significantly increase endurance and lengthen total fatigue time.

Longer Dives: Cardio workouts can help improve your body’s ability to utilize oxygen. It does so by increasing lung function and expanding your body’s oxygen reserve. When your body is using oxygen efficiently, you’ll be able to dive for longer periods of time on the same tank of air.

Strength: By activating major muscle groups in rapid succession, your body must learn to coordinate with itself. What’s more, this unique demand on the body will force your muscles to adapt to the workload; thereby increasing your strength. This will come in handy as you are lifting tanks and diving equipment.

H.I.I.T. Scuba Diver Workout

Below, you’ll find a workout for divers that will help to boost endurance, increase strength, and prepare you for a day of diving

Instructions: Complete all of the repetitions for one exercise then immediately move on to the next one. Do not take a break until you’ve completed the entire list of exercises. Your rest break should not exceed 90 seconds. Perform the list three to five times.

· Jumping Jacks: 20
· Push-Ups: 10
· Jump Squats: 15
· Pull-Ups: 10
· Mountain Climbers: 30
· Burpees: 10

If you don’t have a current workout program, perform this workout three to four times per week. If you already have a consistent workout routine, you can use this scuba diver workout in place of your cardio workouts.

Do You Have a Workout for Divers?

What do you do to keep yourself dive-ready? Have you tried the workout above? What benefits did you notice? Let me know in the comments below.


1. Gibala, M. J., Little, J. P., Van Essen, M., Wilkin, G. P., Burgomaster, K. A., Safdar, A., Raha, S. and Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2006), Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. The Journal of Physiology, 575: 901–911. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2006.112094

2. Cipryan L, Tschakert G, Hofmann P. Acute and Post-Exercise Physiological Responses to High-Intensity Interval Training in Endurance and Sprint Athletes. J Sports Sci Med. 2017 Jun 1;16(2):219-229. eCollection 2017 Jun.


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