Lupita Nyong’o is no stranger to intense workouts — see: her exercise-ball ab workouts and the six-week workout plan she used to get strong for “Black Panther” — but her role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” required a special kind of training. For the highly anticipated “Black Panther” sequel, Nyong’o had to be ready to visit the aquatic world of Talokan, which meant training on their turf . . . aka underwater.
Nyong’o recently gave fans a taste of what that was like. In an Instagram video posted Nov. 18, the 39-year-old actress showed snippets of her underwater workouts and captioned the post, “Swimming down to Talokan was not as easy as it looked!” No kidding. Nyong’o wasn’t just logging laps or practicing her flip turn. Her training consisted of swimming drills, crawling and walking along the bottom of the pool, and walking up underwater steps — all while holding one or two dumbbells in her hands. And of course, Nyong’o did it all while holding her breath, with no oxygen tank in sight. “I felt like a crawfish,” she says at one point during the video.
It’s not a regimen you’d attempt without some expert guidance and coaching, and Nyong’o assures us that she was “safely supervised” by Mark Roberts, a human performance specialist and trainer with XPT Fitness, a “performance lifestyle system” by former pro athletes Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece. In a 2014 article he wrote for Men’s Journal, former pro surfer Hamilton extolled the benefits of working with weights in the water, an approach he attributes to ancient Hawaiians.
“It’s a brilliant technique, because it removes any injury-inducing impact from a workout,” Hamilton explained in the article. He added that the weighted water workouts produce “better results than strength training or swimming alone,” because a weight that might feel manageable on land “takes far more effort to swim with underwater, and it boosts your heart rate faster than a freestyle stroke.”
Turns out, it’s also a pretty smart way to train for an action movie with lots of underwater scenes. Check out Nyong’o’s full training video above.