Christopher Denn is the owner and founder of Oar House LLC. As a professional lifeguard for more than three decades, Chris Denn understands how physically demanding the position of an ocean lifeguard can be. Maintaining a high level of physical fitness is vital to performing your best when the need arises. Today, Christopher Denn will discuss some different training techniques that can keep a lifeguard ready for anything that may come their way on the job. Chris Denn does note, however, that maintaining a balanced diet is probably even more vital to overall physical health.
Of course, no lifeguard worth their salt can afford to skip time in the pool. Swimming skills need to be sharpened so if the time comes when someone is distressed in the water, they can be reached quickly. One of the reasons lifeguards tend to be in great shape is that swimming is a phenomenal full-body exercise. Much like a runner practices sprints in order to increase their fastest time, Chris Denn recommends that lifeguards practice swimming at their fastest speed repeatedly. There may be little tweaks in technique that improve speed, which could prove lifechanging for someone in need. It’s also wise to schedule some endurance swimming workouts. Paddling water for an extended period of time or working to complete more laps over time in the pool is a great way to build strength and build up cardiovascular endurance. Chris Denn recommends that lifeguards always have someone monitoring their swim workouts, so that they never put themselves in danger in the water.
Aside from swimming, Christopher Denn frequently recommends rowing as a workout technique. Whether a lifeguard position requires someone to take out a rowboat or not, rowing machines provide a cardio workout that will build upper body strength. Time and speed can be increased over time on a rowing machine, so there’s always progress to be made. Chris Denn recommends mixing in time on the rowing machine to a workout routine to maximize results and keep the body guessing.
One of the more physically demanding tasks for any lifeguard is running through shallow water. Christopher Denn recommends running on a treadmill or outside, if the weather permits, as often as possible. To take things to another level, consider running in the shallow end of the pool to mimic the stress the legs are under in the water. Those without access to the water should know that running on land can still build up endurance and provide a noticeable difference by the time a lifeguard returns to the beach during the summer season.
Most lifeguards will look to maximize their time in the gym by incorporating compound exercises. For example, planks are a favorite of Chris Denn. To do a proper plank, a person must engage their core, arms and leg muscles all at once. Another great compound exercise is a squat into a shoulder press. Not only does this exercise work for both the legs and the shoulders, but it also loosely mimics pulling a person out of the water. When in doubt, Chris Denn recommends prioritizing core strength. A strong core improves a person’s balance and stability. Core strength also improves the force of the arms and legs during a swimming motion. If you dislike planks, consider glute bridges, ab presses and classic sit-ups.
Not all exercises require heavy lifting or strenuous cardiovascular activity. For one, yoga can be a great asset to a lifeguard as it helps improve flexibility and gives one the ability to control one’s heart rate more effectively. Another great fitness tip is to work on the diaphragm. Working out the diaphragm has nothing to do with heavy lifting or quick running. It involves improving one’s overall breathing technique. While breathing in through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, have one hand on the chest and the other directly beneath the rib cage. Once this technique is mastered, not only will a person’s heart rate go down, they will also gain the advantage of breathing more effectively while swimming. Inhaling with the stroke and exhaling through the water. When speed is of the utmost importance and staying levelheaded is a must, it’s great to know the proper breathing technique.