Gym Strength and Breathing Exercises For Athletes

By XPT Life | Wed May 24 2017

  • XPT Gym Session: Resistance Training

  • Overarching Theme: Core to Extremity

The spine is the center for everything. It needs to be anchored in stable condition before we can allow movement. When there is an imbalance or a weakness or instability, we are exposed or vulnerable to injury. Imbalances arise and become apparent:

  • When fatigued or stressed

  • With increased load

  • With increased volume

Under these circumstances, it’s easier for a breakdown in stability to arise and a fault to develop. Instead, we need to scale movement and practice breathing exercises for athletes to prevent injury. Following are some key foundational exercises to help establish stability and strength in the core and spine. 

Press-Up or Push-Up


  • Keep the chin back

  • Squeeze butt

  • Spine flat


  • Hands should be slightly behind the shoulders

  • Elbow pits facing forward

  • Keep butt flexed or “on”

  • Bring body to the ground

  • Keep the butt “on” and press up from the hands


It’s important to keep the body “stacked.” Often, individuals have poor form—the head tilted forward, the spine arching, or the butt dropped and relaxed. 

If the upward “press” is difficult, compensatory position tends to arise where butt drops and lose the “stacked” position. Instead, under these circumstances, just drop the knees and press up with the arms.

Dead Lift


  • Turn the butt “on”

  • Keep belly button in

  • Chest forward

  • Push hips back

  • Keep toes pointing forward

  • Keep knees “out” laterally, rather than pointing “in” 

  • Keep shoulders back


  • As you lower, the butt will naturally turn “off”

  • Hamstrings will turn “on” for support most of the way down

  • Knees bend the rest of the way down

  • Arches of the feet keep the movement grounded


This exercise requires impeccable form and attention to stability, especially if you have back problems. Proper form and breathing exercises for athletes help to engrain a pattern of keeping the back flat when bending to lift something off the floor. When fatigued or relaxed, we tend to round the back and leave ourselves vulnerable to injury.

If you use two dumb-bells or a kettlebell, bring feet closer together. You’ll need the extra range f motion to drop down lower to pick up the weights.

For women, it’s extremely important to focus on keeping the knees pressed ‘outward’ laterally to avoid ACL injury. Women’s knees tend to turn inward due to anatomy (Q angle).

Bear Crawling ‘Quadruped’


  • Start on your knees

  • Lift knees by just one inch

  • Keep chin down

  • Stay on the toes


  • Start with all limbs on the ground, down on all fours, and crawl forward across the room

  • Keep ‘steps’ very small

  • As you are crawling with your arms keep your elbow ‘pits’ forward

  • Crawl forward and backward

  • Rest an object (pad or cushion) on your back to make sure it’s stable


The entire complex of the core needs to be engaged for this exercise—from the pelvic floor to the diaphragmatic ceiling, as well as the abdominal muscles (which serve as the walls).

Engagement doesn’t need to be at 100%. Even partial activation of core musculature is protective. Remember to breathe like an athlete to improve core engagement throughout the duration of your crawls. 



  • Start in standing position

  • In lunge position, quad should be lateral

  • Back knee should be off the floor

  • Forward foot flat; back foot on toes


  • Stand with feet hip-width apart

  • Engage core and step forward, balancing weight on front heel

  • Lower to a kneel: front thigh parallel, back knee behind the hip

  • Return to standing by driving from the heel

  • Repeat with opposite leg


This activity benefits daily life by supporting walking movement and joint mobility. It opens the hips and improves range of motion, which is very helpful for people with tight hip muscles.

You should not be walking a tightrope or in a single straight line. Instead, keep steps/feet in line with the hips. Knee should not dip inward (toward the middle), but should stay in line. You can even try to push outward laterally to protect the ACL.

Arms should remain directly above your head to stabilize the movement, despite the tendency to let them drop forward. This is also conducive to maintaining proper breathing techniques for athletes.

Takeaway: Quick Daily Strength Session


  • 5 minutes 

  • Moderate intensity jumping rope or jogging

  • Use nasal breathing only


  • 10 Bear crawls (forward and back)

  • 10 Deadlifts (using lighter weight, 30 seconds)

  • Plank (top of push-up)

  • 3-5 Push-ups (use attention to correct form)

  • Rest 2-3 minutes between each round

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