top of page
  • Writer's pictureTyler

Deep End Fitness | DEF

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Learn about Deep End Fitness and why this unconventional style of pool training is worth adding to your routine.


Several years ago, I was fortunate to attend an XPT (Extreme Performance Training) event hosted and created by legendary surfer Laird Hamilton and his wife, Olympic volleyball star Gabby Reece. XPT is a training methodology that evolved from their decades of experience at the highest levels of sport and human performance. A primary component of XPT is a style of physical training that combines land-based exercises with in and underwater movement, breath holds, and weights. While at the event, I was blown away by the efficiency and effectiveness of this type of training and have been yearning to do it more ever since.

However, one issue I came across is that unless you are lucky enough to have a large pool in your backyard, there are not many public places where this style of training is accessible or acceptable. Even if you could find a location to practice, anything involving underwater breath holds should never be done alone and requires proper safety precautions. This is where Deep End Fitness (DEF) has popped up to provide a solution.


What is Deep End Fitness?

Deep End Fitness is a training methodology with roots that tie back to military special forces training and techniques that have been honed over experience by training thousands of athletes. DEF describes the program as, "centered on the practice of movement, breath work, and the strengthening of one's mind in order to optimize human performance in and out of the water."

The program is based on the F.R.E.E operating system, as shown in the chart below:

When I learned that a DEF chapter was starting up in Austin, I knew it was time to reconnect with this style of training. Held in a local pool on a Sunday morning, I arrived with a group of around 15 people from diverse backgrounds who were all eager to push themselves and learn from experienced instructors. The two-hour session flew by as we ran through numerous drills and games that were both strenuous and fun. Some of the drills included:

  • Breathing cadence and mechanics

  • Bobbing up and down from the bottom, while only taking one breath

  • Swimming across the pool underwater, then doing calisthenics on the pool deck before swimming back

  • Moving a brick across the bottom from one side to the other while holding your breath

  • Swimming while holding a dumbbell out of the water

  • Underwater torpedo games


While driving home and reflecting on the experience, I felt like I had reconnected with why I fell in love with this training style, and it encouraged me to bring this back into my routine. Here are three key reasons why you should too:

  • Breath Control - Building an awareness of your ability to modulate the body through purposeful breathing is a critical skill for managing stress in life and in sports. Practicing this skill with water forces you to tune into your breath and learn how to do this calmly and efficiently, even in stressful circumstances.

  • Movement Efficiency - One of the most difficult parts of training in the water is that no matter which direction you move, there will be resistance for you to work against. This resistance punishes unnecessary movement and reinforces the importance of moving purposefully and efficiently. Moreover, doing exercises underwater demonstrates the importance of not wasting energy when oxygen is limited.

  • Low Impact/Injury Risk - The buoyancy you experience in the water provides freedom of movement fundamentally different from what can be achieved on land. This buoyancy combined with the resistance of water provides a slow and controlled environment to train movement patterns and ranges of motion with far less injury risk than on land.

Though there are countless tangible and intangible benefits to training like this, it is always important to have some variety in your routine and activities that push you out of your comfort zone. If you are curious and up for the challenge, I highly recommend stopping by your local DEF chapter to try it for yourself.

To learn more, visit the Deep End Fitness website



Edited by: B.A.T

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page