How Lupita Nyong'o Trained to Swim In 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

See a clip of her impressive underwater workout.

Lupita Nyongo
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Move over, mermaids. Actress Lupita Nyong'o is showing off her underwater skills.

The actress shared a video of some the aquatic training she did to prepare for underwater scenes in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on TikTok, and it will make you want to spice up your next workout.

"Swimming down to Talokan was not as easy as it looked," writes Nyong'o in the caption of her post, referencing the underwater kingdom featured in the new Marvel movie. The video currently has more than 3 million likes and 16 million views. In it, Nyong'o uses weights underwater for a series of exercises done while holding her breath — no snorkel or scuba gear to be found.

First, Nyong'o does a single-arm breaststroke while holding a dumbbell in her non-working hand. Next, she does a version of a military crawl with weights on the floor of a pool while holding her breath. She uses her triceps to pull a weight off the ground, then places it down in front of her to move forward.

After that Nyong'o climbs stairs underwater while holding a dumbbell in each hand at her side. Then, the actress slides weights along the pool floor while swimming, holding her breath all the while. Then it's back to another military crawl. This time, she goes up the stairs with her upper body, kicking her legs behind her in the process.

She also walks along the bottom of the deep end of the pool while carrying a weight in each hand at her sides, working against the resistance of the water to move forward. Then, she drops the weights on the pool floor and swims to the surface for a breath.

"I felt like a crawfish," she says at the end of the clip.

Whether doing traditional laps or using the water for resistance training, there are lots of perks to water workouts.

"Water is a great natural resistance training and especially if you tend to want to do lower impact for cardio and strength training," says Beth Nicely, a NASM-certified personal trainer, who watched the clips. You can swim at higher intensities on a regular basis without feeling wear and tear on your body," Earl Walton, owner of Tailwind Endurance in New York City, previously told Shape.

In fact, water's resistance is 12 times that of air, which means that pool workouts (not just swimming laps, FWIW) are actually engaging more muscle fibers and burning more calories over a smaller chunk of time than work done outside of the pool, Shape previously reported.

What viewers see Nyong'o doing in the TikTok clip is "truly" a full body workout, adds Nicely. The moves demonstrated in the video mainly work the shoulders and the core. She's also working her posterior chain while swimming (think hamstrings, glutes, lats, and back muscles), according to Nicely.

An aquatic workout is good for improving lung capacity too. "The more cardiovascular exercise you do, the more tolerance you have [for] your heart to be able to stay in a high heart rate," explains Nicely.

"Before we started this film, I knew how to swim, but I wasn't a confident swimmer," Nyong'o recently told Variety. "I didn't need to swim in public, that's for sure. That's a lifelong skill that I now have."

A few of Nyong'o's film colleagues, including Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett, shared that they too trained in the water to prepare for the project. Bassett, who had had a bit of experience swimming before working on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, went from being able to hold her breath underwater for 20 seconds to nearly 2 minutes thanks to her training, according to Variety.

Gurira even hired an Olympic swimming coach to ramp up her skills from swimming competitively when she was younger, she said in an interview with The Cut. Now, she wants to spread awareness about the importance of people, especially Black children, learning to swim. "I saw the stat that a Black child is five times more likely to drown than a white child, and that got me," she told the publication. "I just got more interested in trying to bring awareness to it, and I'll be looking into that more."

If you're hoping to incorporate swimming into your fitness routine, there are a few factors to consider, including experience level. There are different workouts to accommodate varying experience levels including beginners. And if you're just starting out, or starting after a long time out of the pool, Nicely advises seeking some coaching before heading straight into a tough workout.

"Always start from basics and sign up for some swim lessons at your local pool with a swim coach," says Nicely. "Learn the proper way to swim and add more time to the workout as you get stronger!"

Once you've nailed the essentials, you might even try out some of the moves that Nyong'o demonstrated in her recent TikTok video. They're a sure way to switch up your go-to fitness routine.

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