As a professional lifeguard for several decades, Christopher Denn knows that now is the time lifeguards look to put the finishing touches on their offseason fitness routines. Memorial Day will be here faster than we think, and lifeguards must be ready to meet the challenges of their physically demanding job. To help lifeguards obtain peak fitness for their job, Christopher Denn will discuss some lifeguard training exercises that should be a part of every lifeguard’s fitness plan.
Any professional lifeguard should be swimming throughout the year. Even those whom lifeguard solely in the summer due to the local climate should have a membership with a local swim club. Nothing is more important to lifeguarding than having the ability to swim out to a person in distress as quickly as possible. Christopher Denn understands that people aren’t going to forget how to swim during the offseason, but there’s a difference between being in shape and being in swimming shape. Swimming shape provides a full body workout and keeps the heart and lungs working optimally. Even lifeguards who are only lifeguard at the beach can benefit from pool swimming.
Christopher Denn always uses the pool to work on speed, technique, and endurance. The safety of the pool is a great place to swim further over more extended periods where a lifeguard can work on their breathing and technique. The pool’s shallow end is a great place for a lifeguard to run. Attempting to jog or sprint through the water will work the leg muscles in a way that can’t be replicated anywhere other than the water. This workout routine will have a lifeguard ready to dash through the water should their job require it.
After swimming, rowing is an essential lifeguard workout. Ideally, Christopher Denn would encourage lifeguards to row an actual boat that mimics what would be required on the job. However, plenty of stationery rowing machines offer the next best thing. Rowing provides an intense workout and will build strength throughout the upper body. Upper body strength is particularly important during extrication. Extrication refers to a lifeguard’s actions when pulling a person from the water. Christopher Denn suggests that lifeguards team up to practice actual extrication exercises while using equipment like tubes and backboards. Taking turns swimming out to one another and pulling them to the pool’s edge is the closest one can come to the real-world scenario.
Christopher Denn recommends targeting specific muscle groups when training to be in peak lifeguard shape. While many will point to leg strength, Christopher Denn believes core muscles are the most pivotal. The core muscles stabilize the spine and offer the body balance. A strong core helps maintain the health of the hips, lower back, and more. Common core exercises include planks, sit-ups, abdominal presses, and glute bridges. Because lifeguards must ensure they avoid injuries, bodyweight exercises are typically preferred. This is why many lifeguards stick to rowing boats and doing pull-ups to work the back muscles. As long as someone isn’t pushing past their limits, plenty of weighted back exercises isolate back muscles and pack on the muscle.
In addition to the back and core, Christopher Denn recommends emphasizing the pectoral muscles and the legs. The pectoral muscles cover the upper chest, and swimmers will find they can better control their breathing and arm movement when they build strong pectoral muscles. Swimming is an excellent pectoral exercise and lifeguards can head to the gym and try out the chest press machine or free weight bench press. A lot of people attempt to max out as heavy as possible on their bench-press, but this is not something a professional lifeguard needs to attempt. It’s more about building and maintaining muscle than reaching personal records.
Building the leg muscles will come in handy as lifeguards can be on their feet for long hours daily. Christopher Denn recommends utilizing classic exercises like squats, lunges, and leg raises. All of these exercises work both the front and back of the legs. Again, bodyweight exercises are a great idea as the best ability is availability. When any body part starts to feel sore, ice it, allow time for rest, and then get back out there.