Body Bar Exercises

STRENGTH TRAINING is a great way to tone and build muscle. It increases your resting metabolism (the calories your body burns at rest), reduces the effort required to complete activities, increases bone density, and improves your overall quality of life and dive experience. These exercises can help your stabilization while moving in scuba gear and around a boat. They can also increase your efficiency, strength, and endurance while finning.

For this strength-training circuit you will need a body bar, which you can find online or at your local fitness center or sporting goods store. Bars are available in a range of weights, but start with 10 to 20 pounds. You can increase the difficulty by using a heavier one. 

Complete one set of each of the following exercises below for one round. You can increase to three rounds if you have the time and ability. Repeat each exercise six to 15 times, depending on your fitness level. As you master the form of each movement, you can increase the repetitions and rounds.

Weighted Archer Squats

  1. Start in a wide stance.
  2. Hold the body bar vertically with one end on the ground for support. 
  3. Sit back, drop your weight to the side, and lower the bar toward the ground.
  4. Pull up the end of the body bar in a rowing movement.
  5. Return your arm to the bottom of the movement, and return to a standing position.
  6. Complete the repetitions, and then perform on the opposite side.

Make sure you sit back with your weight in your heels. You should be able to wiggle your toes throughout the exercise.

 Start with a one-quarter squat.

Increase the weight or repetitions, or try to get your thighs parallel to the ground.

Split Squats

  1. Set your feet so your front heel stays on the ground and your knee is over your ankle. Have an eyes-up, chest-forward posture, with your back knee on the floor directly under your hip (on a pad if necessary for comfort).
  2. Hold the body bar across your back or chest, whichever is more comfortable. If you are not ready to add the weight, you can use the bar for balance.
  3. Push away from the ground to a standing position, keeping your feet in place.
  4. Drop your knee as close to the floor as possible.
  5. Complete the repetitions, and then perform on the opposite side.

Ensure your feet are placed shoulder-width apart for balance when you reach a standing position.

Stay in the initial position for 30 seconds to build muscle and improve posture, or do the exercise near a wall for balance.

Try to tap your knee to the floor with
each repetition.

One-Legged Calf Raises

  1. Stand with one end of the body bar on the floor and the other in one or both hands for support.
  2. Transfer your weight onto your dominant leg.
  3. Raise your body as high as you can on your toes, and hold for three seconds.
  4. Return to the down position.
  5. Complete the repetitions, and then use the opposite leg.

Focus on a single stationary point in front of you to maintain your balance.

Begin by transferring your weight to one foot and barely lifting your heel off the ground.

Increase the hold at the top of the movement up to 20 seconds for each repetition.

Curtsy Squat

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step one foot behind the other in a curtsy position and squat. You can use the body bar for support by holding it in front of you with both hands on one end and the other end on the ground.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Complete the repetitions, and perform on the opposite side.

Hold something more stable than the body bar.

Hold the down position for three to five seconds.

Plank Over Bar

  1. Start in the up position of a push-up (high plank position) with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. If you have wrist discomfort, do this exercise on your forearms instead of your hands.
  2. Step one foot as far to the side of the bar as you comfortably can.
  3. Step the other foot to the same side of the bar.
  4. Return to starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Complete the repetitions.

Make sure that your body is straight, and continue breathing throughout the movement.

Do the exercise on your knees instead of your toes with a pad under your knees if needed for comfort.

Take bigger steps to the side of the bar.

NOTE: To avoid an increased risk of decompression sickness, DAN® recommends that divers avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after making a dive. During your annual physical exam or following any changes in your health status, consult your physician to ensure you have medical clearance to dive.

© Alert Diver — Q2 2023