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Fitness for Lifeguards and Lifesavers

The physical fitness of lifeguards has a direct impact on the ability to perform rescues, whether working poolside or patrolling beaches and open water. A lifeguard workout should regularly include swimming and strength training exercises.

Lifeguards choose workouts that help them develop specific skills, such as swimming speed, so they can optimally perform their jobs. According to the American Red Cross, professional lifeguards should participate in regular swimming and water exercises that build endurance and strength.

Typical lifeguard fitness training includes a warm-up followed by skills training, where lifeguards focus on stroke length, breathing techniques and specific rescue methods.

You might spend some time swimming at race-pace, but often spend a larger percentage of time swimming at a steady, endurance-level pace.

Create “Grab and Go” workouts. Have lifeguards write their favorite drills or 10 to 15-minute aerobic swim workouts on index cards, laminate the cards and keep them in the lifeguard office. Team members can randomly draw a card to get their workout. Establish a reward system of personal bests.

Compound Exercises

On days when lifeguards sprint-train in the water, they may also perform a strength training session or run a few miles. Upper body strength is of utmost importance to lifeguards, who have to be able to carry the weight of unconscious victims. A strong upper body needs to be balanced by a strong core and lower body.

Compound exercises, also known as multi-joint exercises, train more than one group of muscles at a time. Push-ups and planks target the back, chest, shoulders, abdominal muscles, glutes and quadriceps.

Other compound exercises include dips, pull-ups and dead-lifts. Most of these exercises use body weight for resistance and can be done on the pool deck. For an even more challenging lifeguard workout, these exercises can be performed in the sand.

Clothes for swim training
Anorak for swim training
Beach lifeguards often combine swim and run workouts, going in and out of the water often.

Run 100m, swim 100m, do push-ups, sit-ups, repeat.


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