Create the Perfect Body for Diving

woman dives into pool
Woman dives from diving board into pool. David Madison/Getty Images

You don't have to be an aspiring Olympic athlete to want the perfect body for diving. Fitness website "Spry Living," describes it best: "If you’ve caught a glimpse of the diving events at (the Summer) Olympics, you’ve probably noticed the athletes’ precision, grace, guts  -- and physiques." If you are a high school diver, an adult looking for a new sport or just someone who wants to firm up your body in all the right places, achieving the perfect diving body takes work -- but it's worth the effort. Read on to find out how.

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Lie Back and Point Your Toes

Stretching to increase Dive fitness
Stephen Frink/Photodisc/Getty Images

Lying flat on your back lends itself to great body lines and the proper posture to create a rip entry. Not everyone has a naturally flat back; some folks have a natural arch. But you can reduce -- and even eliminate -- this arch by working on proper diving posture.

As you lie on your back, roll your hips forward while squeezing your buttocks and tightening all of the muscles that make up the body’s core -- your hips, stomach, and buttocks.

Next, focus on working your toes by pointing and stretching them skyward, one leg at a time "When you are finning this is basically what you are doing -- pointing your toes and extending the muscles in your feet," explains ​PADI, a diving-instruction website. As you lift each leg, stretch the calf muscles as tight as possible, says PADI, adding that you should hold the position for one minute and then release. Repeat the move three times for each leg with a 60-second break in between.

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Do More Toe Stretches

Diver's Toe-Point and Entry
Diver's Toe-Point and Entry. Photo: Woody Franklin

Stretching your feet every day with a variety of exercises will help to create a toe point that will blow the judges away. And if you really want to develop great feet, you need to do toe exercises outside of practice. As a diver, you can work on your toes practically anytime -- and not just in the water -- at home, on vacation and even at school.

iSport describes a great at-home toe-stretching routine:

  • Sit on the ground with both your legs out in front of you. Keep your legs straight and flat on the floor.
  • With your legs tight and muscles flexed, place the heels of your feet on the ground.
  • Bend both your feet toward the ground. Bend at the ankle, and keep your heels on the ground.
  • While keeping both legs straight, try to get your toes to touch the ground. The middle of your foot should be in an arch above the floor: Both your heel and toe should touch the ground.
  • If you can’t get your toes to the floor without bending your legs, go only as far as you can with your legs straight.​​
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Increase Shoulder Flexibility

Thomas Finchum Stretches During Dryland Training
Thomas Finchum Stretches During Dryland Training. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Shoulder flexibility can help a diver spin faster and press the board better. The flexibility of the hips and hamstrings will result in a nice tight pike, and wrist flexibility helps to develop the all-important flat hand for a great rip.

Try this simple exercise you can do at home with nothing more than a wall and a blanket (optional):

  • Sit about 1 foot away from a wall while facing forward toward the wall.
  • Carefully lift your legs up toward to wall. Let your legs rest on the wall nearly perpendicular to your upper body. In yoga, this is called the "Legs up the Wall" pose. 
  • If you can, lift your upper body toward your legs, grab your legs and wrap your arms around them in a bear hug. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • If you have trouble getting your legs into position, fold a blanket a few times, and place it right against the wall.
  • Sit next to the blanket, slide over so your buttocks are resting on the blanket, then lie back and lift your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor, resting on the wall. Remain in the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Move one leg at a time away from the wall, always pointing your toes straight out, and let it rest in the position for a few seconds.
  • Alternate legs. Eventually, as your core strengthens, you'll be able to lift both legs from the wall. 

Practice these simple exercises and you'll be performing perfect dives and gliding into the water without leaving a splash in no time.