Laird Hamilton Training: Former Surfer Proof Six Packs Don’t Equal Strength

"You could have six-pack abs and not have core stability."

Laird Hamilton Training: Former Surfer Proof Six Packs Don’t Equal Strength

From lusty Cristiano Ronaldo photoshoots to ancient Greek virility, six-packs are associated with many things — but a lack of fitness is not one of them.

However, as Laird Hamilton recently revealed on the Joe Rogan Experience, having a six-pack may not be the symbol of health society makes it out to be.

Renowned surfer and big wave pioneer turned fitness entrepreneur, Laird now has a range of superfoods (and patented training routines) to his name, and is one of the most sought after breathwork and underwater weight training coaches in the world.

He’s also known for his rather eccentric habit penchant for punishment, where — on a daily basis — he submits himself to ice baths and sauna sessions at temperatures mere mortals would crack just thinking about.

Not to mention: he’s friends with Wim Hof, the extreme Dutch athlete known for climbing Everest barefoot and swimming ridiculous distances under Arctic ice, earning himself the moniker The Iceman.

Suffice to say, Laird is one of the most physically (and socially) well-versed people in the arts of breathing (and fitness) on the planet. He’s also worked with a number of scientists and nutritionists to refine his training program to help everyone from NBA athletes and Navy SEALS to the everyday weekend warrior.

So when Laird casually mentioned that having a six-pack — the fitness goal we all covet — could actually be bad for you, podcast host Joe Rogan was almost as shocked as when Laird said he hated swimming.

“Aren’t guys are going to hear this and go, ‘good I’m going to stay fat I don’t need a six-pack,'” Rogan joked.

However, as Laird explains, it’s not that you don’t want six-pack strength, but that you want a deeper core power that works in sync with your breathing.

Need an example? Look no further than this iconic photo of the man himself.

While Laird doesn’t have a sculpted six-pack, his inner core strength is reminiscent of a long time yogi — something he revealed to Joe Rogan he prioritises because: “When you have a real nice set of six-pack abs you’re not able to diaphragmatically breathe.”

“A lot of people’s rib cages aren’t moving… when you inhale it should expand three inches or more for you to be really optimally breathing.”

“When the abs are so tight that the stomach can’t expand the organs can’t push the belly out; then you have a limitation,” he continued, explaining how “if you’re really using your lungs” you’ll strengthen your core in a more profound way.

Multiple experts (see here and here) have corroborated this claim — with the proviso (which Laird later adds too) that it is still possible to have both this internal strength and visible abs. However, both Laird and the experts agree that a six-pack is no guarantee of this significantly more important asset.

“You could have six-pack abs and not have core stability.”

To illustrate the point to Joe (a UFC commentator and ex kickboxer), Laird put it like this, “Not every single great fighter is ripped; some of the best ones ever are not ripped at all.”


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Max Holloway, for example, is one of the best featherweight UFC fighters in the world, with some of the most “insane cardio”. Yet, when you look at him, “he’s not shredded.”

“I mean he’s strong obviously but he looks more like a swimmer.”

Further examples include legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady…


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Brasilian Ronaldo…


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And the best free surfer of all time, Dane Reynolds…


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The takeaway? Six-pack abs may appear the zenith of fitness success, but learning to breathe properly could serve you better in the long run.

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