XPT was founded by Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece, as a culmination of 30+ years in elevating high level athletics, chasing giant waves, and exploring human possibilities. This unique system emerged from a tenacious curiosity about human performance, the necessity for injury proofing the body, and an exploration of health and longevity.
The origins of XPT can be traced back to Laird’s experimentation with various breathing techniques, using the ancient Polynesian practice of carrying stones underwater, and experimenting with other practices that served his passion for riding enormous waves. Over the years, through the influence of many cultures, friends, domain experts, and tireless exploration, XPT has grown into a lifestyle system dedicated to optimizing health, performance, and longevity.
We believe the XPT lifestyle is so powerful that it can enable you to age well like Laird and Gabby, reduce injuries, lead an extremely active existence, and reach your goals. The XPT system is broken into three major components: Breathe, Move, Recover. XPT Water Training is where all three components combine. This unique program has become a cornerstone of the XPT system and a non-negotiable weekly routine for Laird and Gabby.
XPT Water is where all the three central components of XPT – Breathe, Move, and Recover – converge to create a unique fitness method. Pool training is a big part of Laird and Gabby’s fitness routine and has evolved into an extremely scalable program that can be implemented for any fitness level.
Unless you grew up as a water sports enthusiast, water training provides a different stimulus that challenges your body in a new way and forces you to adapt. This is how we avoid or break through plateaus, create sustainable progress, and keep workout routines fun and engaging.
The power of the mind to influence the physical body is astounding and well documented in scientific literature. There are many mental practices that have massive carry over to physical and cognitive performance. Mindfulness practice– i.e. the act of intentionally bringing conscious awareness to the present task/moment – has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety (Wells, et al., 2012), avoid burnout (Moen, et al., 2015), and decrease negative health behaviors like binge eating, poor sleep quality, and lack of physical exercise (Roberts & Danoff-Burg, 2010). XPT Pool Training offers a rare opportunity to be truly in the moment and to detach from all of the noise that seems to distract us throughout the rest of our day. Repeating the practice several days a week can provide a tremendous amount of stress reduction.
Thoughts influence our emotions, which in turn impact our behavior. Self-talk is a highly effective mental skill for framing our focus. It is not something people tend to focus on consciously, but it happens regardless of our conscious control. It is estimated that we talk to ourselves about 1,000 times per minute (Rotella, 2015). However, without proper training, we tend to focus most of this talk, particularly in the face of adversity, on negative thoughts (Rotella, 2015). Positive self-talk can be used as a powerful tool to improve performance across a variety of tasks. Athletes using positive self-talk were able to reduce their rate of perceived exertion and improve performance in high intensity cycling exercises (Blanchfield, et al., 2014) and improve sport performance in competitive swimming (Hatzigeorgiadis, et al., 2014). It has also been indicated that higher “skilled athletes report using [positive] self-talk in a significantly more planned and consistent manner, as well as had greater belief in use of their self-talk, as compared to their less skilled counterparts,” (Hardy, et al., 2004).
Positive self-talk also helps to eliminate the negative thoughts that tend to creep into our heads during stressful situations or times of adversity. Our brains are wired for negativity, which from an evolutionary standpoint helps us to assess threats and mitigate risky behaviors. However, when it comes to optimizing performance, negative self-talk can be detrimental to success. In his book How Champions Think, Dr. Bob Rotella puts it perfectly, “While the correlation between optimism and success is imperfect, there is almost a perfect correlation between negative thinking and failure,” (Rotella, 2015). Creating a practice for improving positive self-talk during moments of extreme stress or adversity can not only improve performance in those tasks, but also lateralize into other aspects of daily life.
We believe there are massive benefits in a practice that forces you to hit that wall where you don’t think it’s possible to push further, and yet find a way to persevere and continue. XPT Water Training will quickly help you find the point at which you don’t think you can keep going. It will also equip you to understand that the only way to get past this is to calm, quiet, and focus your mind (mindfulness), and use positive self-talk to fortify the belief that it can be done. We have seen these practices carry over, outside of the pool, into other stressful events or moments of adversity, allowing people to conquer an obstacle once thought to be impossible. The potential implications for this are powerful beyond anything we can currently quantify.
Focused breath work is a foundation of the XPT system and underpins many of the benefits of XPT Water Training. During many of the water exercises, you will be performing apnea exercises (holding your breath), which can create a handful of beneficial physiological changes. When the human body is exposed to situations in which there are reduced oxygen levels – such as the experience of high altitude, or by holding your breath – adaptations take place that force the body to increase oxygenation of the blood, delay the onset of lactic acid and fatigue, and improve respiratory muscle strength.
Lower Injury Risk One of the biggest benefits of water training is the lower injury risk compared to working out on land. Due to the density of the water changing the influence of gravity, impact forces are significantly less in the pool. This lower impact on the joints and connective tissues allows people to perform ballistic and plyometric movements with reduced risk of injury. Pool training is commonly used during rehabilitation programs for athletes returning from injury for this reason. In our experience, athletes recovering from injuries have been able to perform movements underwater that they are not yet able to do on land, allowing them to work certain muscles that they were not able to utilize previously, and tax the body in ways that were previously inaccessible.
In addition to lowering injury risk, pool training can also be a great method for recovery on days of active rest between intense workout sessions or after competition. As the water unloads a lot of the impact forces coming down during jumping and other underwater movements, most pool exercises are concentric-dominant. Eccentric loading has been shown to create the most tissue damage and stress to the muscles and connective tissue (Mikesky, et al., 1995), therefore by reducing the eccentric load on the muscles, we are minimizing damage to the tissues. When performing exercises that are concentric only, your muscles will still benefit from an increase in local blood flow, bringing the nutrients necessary for tissue repair, while minimizing additional tear down. The compression caused by the water will also help to stimulate blood flow (Turner, 1973), aiding in the recovery process.
Furthermore, circuit training in the pool can elicit aerobic conditioning adaptations, providing benefits to the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems while also creating a recovery response in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. The additional work of the respiratory muscles during breath holds and breathing with compression of the water acting on the torso provides another unique stressor for improving respiratory muscle strength.
XPT Water exercises and workouts should be done through a certified XPT Coach. Checkout our upcoming certifications.