When you think of the word “core”, what comes to mind?  The earth’s molten core?  An apple core?  Core values?  The deep muscular framework of thsea turtle and scuba divers on pristine coral reefe body?  All of these share the fact that they are deep and structurally important to the integrity of what they are a part of.   Our body’s core is the foundation for all of our movement and strength.  Scuba divers need to have good core strength in order to be efficient and strong in the water and on land or boat.


What is the Core?

The body’s core can be described as the deep muscles and connective tissue that basically extend from the shoulder girdle to the pelvis.  The core muscles attach to the spine and pelvis and are the power center for the body.  The core is defined differently by many people in fitness, but essentially, it includes the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, transverse abdominis (deepest abdominal layer), and the multifidi (important spine stabilizers).  Many include shoulder blade stabilizers, latissimus dorsi, and obliques.  Generally, when someone says that they had a good core workout, they are referring to really feeling like they worked their deep abdominals in several different ways. 

I like to think of the core as the body’s center of power, balance, and stability.  As a personal trainer and Pilates instructor, I incorporate core work in all of my clients’ exercise programs.  We achieve this by doing many exercises, but one of my favorites is the plank. 


Why Do Scuba Divers Need A Strong Core?

Picture a diver climbing up the boat ladder at the end of a dive and then, when they are tired, they walk across the boat to their “spot” and sit down with their tank still on their back.  Maybe you would rather picture a diver beautifully balanced underwater, minimizing the effort that it takes to move through the water as they swim along a lovely coral encrusted wall and then into a swim through where they have to maneuver through tight spaces.  Better yet, visualize a diver in a dry suit all geared up and walking downhill over a log and a few rocks then along a pebbly beach as they approach the surf entry.  This same diver enters the water and balances on one foot while putting on one fin, then the other.  All of these divers need strong cores.  Have you carried a full scuba tank and loaded it onto the back of a pickup truck?  If so, you will agree with me that it takes core strength to do so, and to do so safely


What Is The Best Core Exercise for Divers?

If there is any one exercise that you do, let it be a plank!  The plank is the best core exercise, easy to fit in to any space indoors or outdoors, does not require equipment, and progress is very measurable.

The basic plank is essentially an isometric exercise where you hold your body in a straight line.  There are as many variations to the plank as there are surprises in the ocean.   What muscles does plank strengthen?  By looking at the pictures below, you will see that the plank strengthens abdominals (particularly transverse abdominis—the deepest one), multifidi (small muscles along the spine), low back muscles, shoulder girdle stabilizer muscles, and many variations also strengthen the obliques.  You will feel these muscles working as you hold your plank.

Plank Basics and Beyond

For the Basic Plank,

  • kneel down on your knees and forearms on the floor.  Hands are slightly in front of shoulders. 
  • Either stay on your knees and lengthen out your back so it is neutral (flat) in a straight line from your head to knees……or……step one foot back, then the other until your body forms a straight line from head to heels.pink plank
  • You will feel your abs for sure as you hold this position for up to 60 seconds

An alternative is to do this on your hands instead of forearms, especially for those who have wrist issues.   Note the straight line from the back of her head to her heels and her neutral low back.


Toe Taps Plank

  • Start in your full plank, either on your hands   or forearms. 
  • Stabilize your body and lift one leg off the floor and to the side as far as you can while keeping your back neutral and pelvis level. toe tap plank
  • Switch sides and repeat about 10x.



Rotating Plank

  • Either in a full or modified plank, start with a regular front plank and rotate to a side plank holding for 1-2 seconds
  • Repeat on the other side for 10 x each side.rotating plank outside
  • This exercise engages the obliques with the rotation.

There are 2 comments so far

  • sbream Author
    3 years ago · Reply

    You are so welcome!

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