3 useful upper body exercises for freedivers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

With every new training period for free divers (active competitors), including myself; aim is to always begin the season with a good overall physical condition in and out of water. This helps build up towards the main aim which is to make us dive deeper, farther and hold our breath longer.

 

Recently, I have been receiving e-mails from a lot of people, asking me to provide them with a set of exercises, to better their technique underwater, thus increase their apnea. Majority of requests mainly focuses in out-of-water strength exercises.

 

With the aforementioned in mind, I decided to write an article which includes three very efficient exercises (with variations) for the upper torso and the goal of which is to offer increased mobility, stability and flexibility to important muscles and joints of the upper body.

 

RESISTANCE TRAINING


A well-structured resistance training program can greatly benefit the levels of strength, stamina and functionality of very important muscles and joints, which play a vital role in free diving disciplines.

 

Conversely, excessive use of weights during training usually brings about the opposite results. The most common phenomenon I come across is that of limited flexion of muscles due to great stiffness and lack of mobility in joints, which are both of vital importance in achieving a good result.

 

Personally, during the last two years, I have radically changed my approach in both training in and out of water. It is comprised of a combination of mobility exercises and strengthening of stiff, less mobile and efficient muscle groups and joints.

''The part of resistance training constitutes a supplementary factor in the overall weekly training cycle both for me and my athletes.''

ANALYZING THE PROBLEM

 

The biggest percentage of free diving athletes who approached me requesting a resistance training program, suffer from severe physical problems mainly concerning the right underwater posture of their body, which resulted due to musculoskeletal imbalances.

 

(1)Increased kyphosis of the upper thoracic spine, (2)Increased forward shoulder bend, (3)Increased lordosis of the lower lumbar spine

 


All the above are greatly influenced by the way and quality of living of each athlete. Wrong posture and approach to exercise, greatly affects the already stiff and problematic areas and may further limit the range of movement of important joints and muscles.

 

So far so good, but how does my shoulder’s functionality and flexibility affect my overall performance?

The right length, stability and neuromuscular coordination of the muscles on the backbone, chest and shoulder, (Upper & Lower trapezius, the Rhomboid, the Pectoralis minor, the Coracobrachial and the Serratus anterior), can greatly influence the range of movement of the shoulder’s joint during bending and extending positions behind the head. 

''Wrong posture and approach to exercise, greatly affects the already stiff and problematic areas and may further limit the range of movement of important joints and muscles.''

The right length, stability and neuromuscular coordination of the muscles on the backbone, chest and shoulder, (Upper & Lower trapezius, the Rhomboid, the Pectoralis minor, the Coracobrachial and the Serratus anterior), can greatly influence the range of movement of the shoulder’s joint during bending and extending positions behind the head. 

 

The shoulder’s joint exhibits the greatest mobility when compared to the other joints of the human body. Its stiffness and inadequate mobility can cause a variety of wrong motion patterns for the diver who wants to execute, for example, in dynamic apnea with the hands above the head.

 

''Increased Thoracic Kyphosis: Factors attributing may include sitting too much at work, the way of living and the wrong choice of muscular strength exercises.''
 

 

#1.The increased thoracic kyphosis affects the shoulder blade's starting point, which is of vital importance for the final position of the hands when raising.

 

 

 

#2. An increased thoracic kyphosis can also hinder the normal backward bend of the shoulder blade during raising the hands and positioning them behind the head.  A full range backward bend of the shoulder blades is found to be necessary during shoulder flexing and positioning of the hand behind the head.

 

 

Can also be influenced by shortened / hyperactive muscles, such as the Serratus Anterior (A) and Pectoralis Minor (B), regardless of thoracic kyphosis. Those muscles are highly involved in pressing exercises ( bench press , push- ups).
 

 

 

Increased lordosis of the lower Lumbar spine. 

 

 

An increase in the lordosis of the lower lumbar spine can be the result of the aforementioned musculoskeletal asymmetries.

 

 

As a result, during the execution of dynamic apnea the diver may experience hydrodynamic problems and greater energy consumption.

What should I include in my training program?

 

A resistance training program that involves normal strengthening exercises, like push ups, shoulder presses and pull ups, can prove to be detrimental, and negatively influence the performance of a free diver who has limited mobility and flexibility in their shoulder’s joint and increased thoracic kyphosis.

 

In such case, it is necessary for the exercises mentioned above to be replaced by a set of exercises that offer stability, mobility and strength.

 

 

WORKOUT ROUTINE

 

This exercise program mainly aims in giving:

  • Greater range of movement within the shoulder’s joint Stability and strengthening of the upper and lower Trapezius.

  • Flexing of the thoracic muscles and the shoulder blades (Pectoralis minor and major).

  • Increased mobility in the upper thoracic spine.

  • Strengthening of internal and external rotators.​

 

 

MY FAVORITE WARM UP ROUTINE WITH THERABANDS

 

3 nonstop sets (cycles) x  12 to 20 rotations / repetitions in every exercise or aim for an overall time of 1-3 minutes
 

 

The aim of the warm up is to increase blood circulation to the muscles and joints on which we wish to work out. It will make the exercises more efficient and it will limit the possibility of injury.

 

The execution rate varies from slow to moderate with controlled repetitions. During the rotations try to maximize the range of motion gradually through every repetition.

 

 

 

 

#1. SHOULDER ROTATIONS 

 

I execute slow and controlled repetitions. During the execution, I try not to bend my elbows. This exercise is to be stopped in case of discomfort.

 

Warm up: 2 x 12-20 reps (slow / under control) tempo
Basic set: 3 x 12-15 + resistance

 

 

 

#2. PRONE RAISES 

 

We place ourselves on a stable or unstable surface (bench or fit-ball). While raising the hand we try to avoid bending the elbow. In this way, all resistance tension goes to the right muscle groups.
 

Warm up set : 2 x 15-20 reps (both hands)
Basic set : 3 x 12-15 + resistance (for each hand separately)

 

 

 

#3. THORACIC HYPER EXTENSIONS (Foam-roll)

 

Warm up: Rolling up and down 1-2 minutes
Basic set: 3 sets of 20-25 repetitions on each part, middle (1) and upper (2)

 

SUMMARY

 

A resistance training can be a very beneficial and helpful tool, but at the same time it can prove to be detrimental for the training of a Freediver if the musculoskeletal characteristics of each diver are not attended to and analyzed.

 

A ‘’musculoskeletal evaluation’’ could assess  the quality of our movements, in order to create a program that will include the best set of exercises for us, and which will provide us with optimal results as soon as possible.

 

 

If you have further questions about resistance training please, comment bellow and I will answer as soon as possible!

 

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