Could You Complete This British Diver’s Workout?

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(Image credit: unknown)

If you always find yourself tuning into the diving during the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, there’s a chance to watch elite divers compete in London next month at the final leg of the FINA World Diving Series (opens in new tab). We were at the unveiling of some of the British competitors, including world silver medallist and double European champion Matty Lee, who will compete with Tom Daley in the 10m platform synchronised diving at FINA – and, as long as they qualify, the Tokyo 2020 Games.

We took the opportunity to find out how Lee trains and came away with a workout you can try yourself.

The workout consists of a mix of plyometric movements and weightlifting, and all the weights, reps and sets were to reflect mid-season training.

“In pre-season you do fewer reps, but you absolutely blast your body with heavy weights,” Lee says. “We’re now in the stage where we maintain our strength through the competition period. What we’re doing in the pool is a lot harder than usual, so obviously we want to have the power and energy to perform.” That means the exercises in the workout we observed were three to four sets in the five to eight rep range.

As Lee’s speciality is the 10m dive, the workout features explosive exercises to improve Lee’s ability to launch himself off the fixed platform.

Divers who use the 3m board, Lee explains, “usually have much bigger legs and squat a lot more, because you’ve got to generate power through the springboard, but at 10m it’s just quick explosive power.”


Before the main session starts, Lee and the other athletes warmed up that day by playing table tennis. One of the coaching team explained that it gets them limber while also focusing them for the session itself. You don’t need to play table tennis, but you should definitely warm up.

The Workout

Jump lunge

Sets 3 Reps 4 each side

“I wasn’t doing it with any weight,” Lee says. “I’ll progress to resistance bands and maybe weights in the future.”

“They build explosive power. That and plyometrics are very important for diving. If you look at most divers, they’re not huge. We’re just toned and ready for quick, explosive power.”

Stand in a split stance (one leg in front of the other) and lower into a split squat by bending at the knees, dropping the back knee towards the ground. Once your knees are bent at 90°, explode straight up into a jump. Swap the positions of the legs in mid-air and land in the lunge position.

Barbell reverse lunge

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(Image credit: unknown)

Sets 4 Reps 4 each side

As a good lift-off comes from the legs, Lee did reverse lunges “to get a bit of strength in my quads and hip flexors. My knees are quite bad, so my weights coach has set me this so I can really build the muscles around my knees.”

Load a barbell with a medium weight – Lee used 30kg and 35kg. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell so it rests on your chest, with your palms facing up and your elbows as high as possible. Step back with one leg and lower your back knee towards the ground. Pause while lowered and then drive through the front leg to return to standing. Alternate legs with each rep.

Incline dumbbell flye

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(Image credit: unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 8

“With 10m diving we need to have quite a strong upper body – more so than the 3m divers,” says Lee.

Lie with your back flat on a bench set to an incline with your feet flat on the floor, holding dumbbells above your chest with your arms extended, palms facing and a slight bend at the elbows. Lower the weights out to the sides as far as is comfortable, then use your pecs to bring the dumbbells back to centre.

Lat pull-down

Sets 3 Reps 8

Sit in the machine and adjust the pads on your quads so your legs won’t rise during the movement. Take a wide grip on the bar, palms facing away from you. Keep your back straight and your chest proud throughout the movement. Pull the bar down and focus on squeezing your lats once it’s reached your chin. If you feel your grip going, reduce the weight for the remaining sets.

Barbell hip thrust

Sets 3 Reps 8

“I’ve been doing 50kg to 60kg hip thrusts,” Lee says, explaining that training his hamstrings and glutes “helps me to generate a good jump off the board.”

Sit with your feet on the ground, your shoulders and upper back against a bench, and a barbell resting on your hips. Lean back, then drive up with your hips. You’ll have reached the top position when your knees are at a 90° angle. Lower slowly under control.

The FINA World Diving Series is held at the London Aquatics Centre, 17th-19th May

Buy tickets from British Swimming (opens in new tab) | From £10

Jake Stones

Jake was formely an intern for Coach and now contributes workouts from some of London’s top trainers. As well as training in the gym and running, he’s competed in the eight-hours-long overnight event Europe's Toughest Mudder twice and the 24-hours-long World's Toughest Mudder once.