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Category: Breathing Articles

Coaching Tip: Breath Training Mechanics

Before jumping into XPT Performance Breath Training, it is important to ensure that your breathing mechanics are being exhibited properly.  XPT Performance Director, PJ Nestler shares two basic tips to help improve your breathing mechanics when jumping into your breathing protocol as it pertains to XPT Daily Training, other workouts, or simply every day life.

PJ’s two tips:

LAY ON YOUR BACK – When lying down flat, you are ensuring your spine is in a good, neutral position and you avoid all of the weight of your upper body, pressing down on your lungs and diaphragm, which can severely change your breathing patterns.

SLOW IT DOWN -By slowing down your breathing you have more ability to control all of the breathing mechanics that we teach at XPT.

Watch the clip to hear all of PJ’s tips on how you can improve your XPT Performance breathing and build upon your breathing protocol foundation.

XPT Performance Breathing Techniques | Activate, Perform, Reset

XPT’s Performance Breathing™ includes methods under our system of ‘Activate’ ‘Perform’ and ‘Reset’.

Each method we develop at XPT comes from years of exploration, research, and application. We continue to develop routines not only for ourselves to use in fitness, sport, and daily life but also to share with the world as ‘breathing’ is the essence of life and is our most valuable asset…

Activate = These methods teach the basics of breathing, understand the breath, patterns and to warm up. They stimulate the nervous system.

XPT Box Breathing


Box Breathing is an Intro Breathing Pattern / Part of the XPT Activate Breathing Series

It uses the 4 Corners of the breath
Hold on the Inhale
Hold on the Exhale

You can use the 4 corners of the breath to create a different physilological adaptation in your body.

Box Breathing introduces breathing diaphramatic breathing exercises / through your belly (the motor that drives) and nasal breathing (the vessel)

Tempo for Box Breathing is 1:1:1:1 which means it is the same timing for each breath.
In this video they are demonstrating 3 second patterns.

3 seconds inhlae, 3 seconds hold, 3 second exhale, 3 second hold at the bottom.
It’s suggested to repeat this pattern for 10-15 minutes. It should help calm and quiet your mind!

Use the lower hand to ensure your lower belly expands, use you upper hand on top and it should not have much movement.

Cadence Breathing

The XPT Cadence Breathing Pattern introduces the following:

  • The basics of breathing (patterns)
  • Diaphragmatic breathing and nasal breathing (breathing through your belly (the motor that drives) and through your nose, (the vessel)
  • 4 corners of the breath: Inhale, Hold at the top, Exhale, Hold at the bottom. Using the 4 corners of the breath can create a physiological adaptation in your body.

The tempo for Cadence Breathing is 1:1:2:1 which we double the length of the exhale.
In this video they are demonstrating 3 second patterns.
3 seconds inhale, 3 seconds hold, 6 second exhale, 3 second hold at the bottom.

You can sit upright or lay supine – This gives you the best access to your spine (straight spione)
Nasal Inhale for 3
Hold for 3
Slow Exhale for 6
Hold at the bottom for 3

It’s suggested to repeat this pattern for 10-15 minutes. It should help calm and quiet your mind!

Drive the breath with the belly, keep shoulders and chest relaxed, fill the lungs from the bottom to the top, empty the breath out during the 6 second exhale.

Use the lower hand to ensure your lower belly expands, use you upper hand on top and it should not have much movement.

XPT® Superventilation Breathing

Superventilation Breathing is Part of the XPT Activate Breathing Series

RESULTS: It creates a sympathetic nervous system response (fight or flight respons)
Increases alertness, gets things fired up, increases energy
Mood enhancement, euphhoria, Massive release of adrenaline.

Benefits of a hypoxic reponse during holds (low level of oxygen during holds), and hypocapnic low level of c02

You can sit upright or lay supine – This gives you the best access to your spine (straight spine)

The tempo for Superventilation Breathing is 1:1 which is a very fast breathing pace
1-2 breaths per second
Drive breathing through the diaphram

Version 1: Nasal Inhale / Mouth Out Exhale
Big Inhale through the nose, Relax on the exhale through the mouth
30-50 breaths
Slow your tempo if you start to loose your form and start chest breathing

At the end of 50 breaths take a big inhale and a big exhale and hold the exhale in a relaxed state until you feel an air hunger
Go for a max hold / Goal is 90 seconds but varies per person (ability)
When you reach the end of your hold take a quick breath in and then hold for 10 seconds
then repeat the whole pattern but do version 2…

Version 2: Mouth In / Mouth Out

Repeat for another 3-5 rounds.

You might feel light headed, dizziness, this is normal. This is a result of the change of blood gasses in your body.

XPT Post Workout Recovery – Best Breathing Exercises


Use this post recovery workout of best breathing exercise to cool down and get into rest and digest recovery state before you leave the gym or after any stressful situation!

This breathing method is used to take you out of a stressful state.
It’s a down regulator – it will create a parasymathic response.
Most people don’t get into a recovery state right after a workout, they stay in a sympathetic response (high stress).
Use this routine after every workout to help your body recover.

After an Intense Workout / or Situation…
Lay down supine
Put feet up on a wall or box – knees at 90 degree angle
Keep spine flat
Cover your eyes if you can

Nose Breathing Only
Temp: 1:2 | 4 second inhale 8 second exhale

Count this cadence in your head. Do for 3-5 minutes

Tip: Keep a hand on your belly to feel your breaths go in and out.

Shut Your Mouth

macro shot of human nose

This Week’s XPT Challenge: Shut Your Mouth & Breathe Through Your Nose

Our mouths are designed for eating and talking.  Breathing is the primary responsibility of the nose.

The mouth is available for backup when nasal breathing is difficult (such as during high intensity exercise) or impossible (when sinuses are congested).  However, we tend to unconsciously over-use the mouth – relying on it as a first – rather than second – line.

Here’s our XPT challenge:  This week, let’s pay attention to our breathing modality.  As much as possible, button your lips and let your nose take the lead.  You’ll protect your airways with warmer and cleaner air, enhance full-body oxygenation, and even appreciate a natural calming effect.

If you have any fav nose-breathing tips or tricks for remembering to keep your trap shut, please share with us in a comment.

To read more about XPT’s breath training, go here. 

XPT’s 5 Questions with Kerri Walsh Jennings


Three-time Olympic Gold medalist and one-time Olympic Bronze medalist – the most decorated Pro Beach Volleyball Player ever – and arguably one of the best female athletes in the World, Mrs. Kerri Walsh Jennings, spent three days with us at the XPT Experience in Malibu this past October.   Afterward, we had some questions for her.  Here’s what she had to say…

  1. What does your typical daily fitness regimen consist of and did you learn anything new you can incorporate in your training from the XPT Experience?

KW:  My typical regimen over the past 15 years has included weight training, Pilates, a lot of beach volleyball training—obviously, I’m a fan—I do cardio and agility work, either on the beach or on the track, I do brain training, with or without my sports psychologist to work on my neuro-agility, I do rehab for whichever body part needs rehab, I have been working with a thoracic mobility specialist, so those have been my staples for a long time.  The thoracic mobility specialist is somewhat new over the past two years. 

My husband and I went to XPT a) because we love Gabby & Laird and b) because we’re always so curious to see what the leading edge people are doing and we just have so much respect for Gabby and Laird and Brian and their whole team, so we were so excited to go and learn from them.  It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite from the week because it was all just so amazing, truly, and I don’t say that lightly.  What I do plan on taking away from it and adding to my regimen was the breathing; it was just game changing for me.  It was just so powerful in so many different ways, for my brain, for my body, just for my entire being through and through.  The breathing training was really special.  Click here to learn more about XPT Performance Breathing…

And then the pool workout—Gabby’s been trying to get me into the pool for so long and I never made it work.  It was such a humbling experience but it was also so empowering and just makes so much sense for my goals in life, really, are just for sustained excellence and to keep improving.  I can’t keep beating up my body and so this is such a great way to minimize the impact on my body since you’re in water and it’s just better in that way, but you’re also able to workout dynamically and efficiently and very, very actively. 

One of my favorites of the weekend was a Gabby’s HIGHX workout.  It was on the last day for us.  It was ridiculous and I’ve been following her online but to experience it—it was so fun and so challenging but doable and the music was insane.  And Gabby is so inspiring so it was awesome to do that.

  1. How do you stay motivated and keep up your busy schedule with so much energy?

KW:  I love what I do, I love doing what I do and I love feeling good.  So, feeling good to me is being fit, being healthy, being active, being around people I love and chasing my dreams, alongside people I love.  So that’s kind of my life in a nutshell.  I don’t need any external motivation; it’s all very internally driven because I’m really fulfilled by doing what I do.
kerri-walsh-xpt Gabby Reece, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Casey Jennings and Coach Marcio Sicoli.

  1. Any packing suggestion for participants in the XPT Experience? What would be 3 things you’d recommend they take?

KW:  A bathing suit, a good open-minded attitude, mostly to allow yourself to be uncomfortable, because you’re going to be uncomfortable but it will take you to wonderful places.  I mean, literally, you need to just show up with a good attitude and a bathing suit and you’re set.  They take care of everything.  I guess maybe a pair of workout shorts.

It’s just such a special experience.  I really recommend the whole weekend to everybody.  Like, I don’t care if you’re 90 pounds overweight and you feel like you’re stuck and you want inspiration.  Or if you’re a young kid who is curious about what the experts are doing, or if you just want something fun to do—or whatever you’re looking for in life, this is a well-worthwhile commitment and an investment in yourself, because it’s just a game changer.

  1. Talk to us about sharks.  You were a little apprehensive about getting in the ocean for the SUP sessions with Laird.  What changed your mind and what was that like?

KW:  I grew up in Northern California in Santa Cruz doing lifeguards and it just crushed me, I watched Jaws too many times and it was really big fear of mine my whole life.  I’ve been talking to my sports psychologist about it for about 5 years and he’d say that you’re not ready yet for so many years, and a couple of months before XPT he’s like, “This is ridiculous, you need to confront this.”  So, a week before XPT I went out into the open water with him.  It scared the hell out of me, but I feel like I made progress. 

Kerri and Gabby chatting before she paddled out. Kerri and Gabby chatting before she paddled out.

It was just something that I told myself I had to do to a) experience the experience of being out in the water with Laird and the group and b) just to keep forward momentum.  And it was just extremely comforting being out there (in Malibu) with my husband who was right there by my side for the most part, and then I’m paddling 15 feet behind Laird.  And everyone was checking in on me the whole time, so I was never alone.   Gabby promised me I’d be in good hands and I never doubted that.  So I just couldn’t not do it. 

Kerri on her way into the ocean.

I’ll do it again.  My husband loves surfing and I really want to be able to enjoy these things with him.  And my kids, I don’t want to give them my fear so I just need to get over it and I just need to keep doing it and that’s how I’ll get over it.  So it’s wonderful.  The Malibu paddling was just ten times more intensive than I’d done a week before with my sports psychologist, so I feel if I just keep going out there that I’ll just keep getting better.

  1. Gabby has spoken out a lot on body image, especially with young girls, and as a fellow strong, tall woman, what advice would you give to young girls who are facing these issues, especially in the teen years?

KW:  This is such a tricky subject, because we all want to look good and feel good, but I think the biggest problem is that we compare ourselves to others.  I learned that too late in life, to stop comparing myself to others, but it was very liberating when I stopped doing that.  So, I would encourage all young girls to embrace what they have and not compare themselves to others.  I think that’s the trick to happiness in life, for yourself personally, when you’re on the job, when you’re inspiring to do great things, to just kind of look to yourself and make the most of what you have.  Complaining about something nonstop you can address it yourself but don’t wish you had something else because what you have is beautiful.

Want to join us for an XPT Experience and have your own personal transformation?  Here’s how 

-Team XPT

Breathing Easier

Rob Wilson, CMT

Breathing is primarily an autonomic function (controlled unconsciously) that often easily escapes our awareness.  Postural compensation, poor respiratory and movement mechanics, and even psychological distress can result in the stiffness and atrophy of larger respiratory muscles like the diaphragm (that’s right your diaphragm can be weak) and consequentially smaller secondary respiratory muscles are emburdened and the negative feedback loop of compromised breathing, poor posture, and ineffective movement begins.

Learning to develop a deeper awareness of our respiratory mechanics and how to alleviate hindrances can not only lead to all the fruits of better breathing but in the process we may also positively affect symptoms, issues, and dysfunctions that are seemingly unrelated.

Primary Respiratory Muscles (PRM)

Our primary respiratory muscles are the diaphragm and the intercostals.  These muscles are adapted to effectively expand the rib cage to allow for maximum lung volume and then to contract to evacuate the lungs as well.

We can see by how broad the attachment site it is to the rib cage that the diaphragm has the greatest potential to transmit force through the ribs to create space for the lungs.

Additionally the intercostals are located between the ribs and attach in a crisscross pattern in both directions allowing for maximal movement between each individual set of ribs.

These primary respiratory muscles are best fit to manage the muscular burden of rib cage movements to allow for effective respiration and when moving properly maximize our breathing which can positively effect everything from sports performance to mood in general.



Secondary Respiratory Musculature (SRM)

Our secondary respiratory muscles are comprised of generally smaller muscles most of which have another function altogether to which their respiratory duty is completely ancillary.

The scalenes, pectoralis minor, trapezius, and the sternocleidomastoid all subtly attach to the rib cage and offer little purchase there compared to their PRM counterparts.  The primary role for these muscles is to allow for both mobility and stability of the cervical spine, scapula, and serve as a scaffolding to support our mainframe housing (cranium).

These muscles have tremendous purchase on the cervical spine and the cranium and when a part of a maladaptive respiratory pattern they can contribute to pain and dysfunction including but not limited to neck and shoulder pain and loss of ROM, arm pain, headaches, migraines, and much more.  This is often exacerbated at times of intense physical and/or psychological exertion and stress.

Learning to bring awareness to these tissues can have an powerful impact on not only our breathing but also our posture, movement, and overall ability to adapt in general.

Mechanical Ventilation Test and Tidal Volume

Let’s start with a simple test or two.  Use one or both of the videos below to develop a baseline for your breath capacity.  The mechanical ventilation test offers a more subjective, feeling based comparative while the tidal volume test uses an objective visual comparison.  The PRM and SRM release sequences can be performed together or as separate test/retest practices.  Compare the results and see where you make the most difference.

TEST 1: Mechanical Ventilation Test

Test 2: Tidal Volume Test

Primary Respiratory Muscle Release Videos

Diaphragm Release

10 breaths per side

Cat/Cow + hold 

2 cycles

5 breaths moving dynamically
5 breaths in each position

Secondary Respiratory Muscle Release Videos

Neck Peel / 2 min on each side

1st rib/Scalene Release / 20-30 oscillations per side

Pec Minor / 20-30 oscillations per side


After you perform the above sequences be sure to retest and compare how you feel.  Use the same test as in the beginning as right afterwards in order to get a good comparison.

Overuse of the SRM is strongly correlated to being stuck in a sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze) autonomic state. Being stiff and overactive in these muscles can contribute to being in a sympathetic state just as much as being in a sympathetic state can make these muscles tight and overactive.  Like many processes in the human body this is multifactorial and we cannot always tell if the chicken or the egg came first.  Ultimately this can become a circle of behavior that can severely limit a positive adaptation process in the long term.  The most important thing is to enhance our awareness and interrupt this cycle as soon as we know it’s taking place.

Performing the above mobilization sequence on a regular can go a long way improve your breath mechanics and enhance your existing breath practice.  If you don’t already have a breathing practice you’re behind the 8 ball!

Learning to breathe on purpose is an important component of life and training that cannot be overstated.  For more information on getting started with your breathing practice start here: BREATHING ROUTINES – Change Your Breath, Change Your Life: The Daily Routine Athletes Love

Does an enigmatic ­European have the secret to ultimate performance? Laird Hamilton and Tim Ferris think so—and research backs them up.

Fight Disease, Get Healthier By Pairing Oxygen Intake With The Wim Hof Method & Nutrition

Article by XPT Team Advisor Darin Olien founder and visionary of SuperLife!

Did you know that you may not be getting enough oxygen? Which is crazy because the single greatest element that you require as a human is oxygen! You can go for days without food and water, but just try to hold your breath and you immediately see how critical oxygen is.

You may be slowly choking your own cells of this precious oxygen and you don’t even know it!

I have been all around the world hunting superfoods, formulating special herbal supplements and learning about natural ways to stay healthy and optimally fit.  When I wrote SuperLife:  The Five Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome, one of the life forces I talked about was oxygenation and how important it is to your overall health. But most of us are not getting enough of it unless we learn how to get more consciously.

I have been learning about oxygen for years, but when my fellow workout buddies Laird Hamilton and Brian Mackenzie (founders of along with Gabby Reece) told me about what Wim was doing with the Wim Hof Method and I began doing the breathing techniques, I quickly realized this was the best way I had discovered so far to better uptake oxygen and create an oxygen-rich environment in the body.

I was hooked! Not to mention I appreciated the huge inner peace, balance, and new levels of awareness Wim’s work also takes you to. In addition to getting all the oxygenation benefits from the breathing I also fell into the deepest meditation, receiving all of the health benefits that meditation provides at the same time!

Wim’s method is like a multipurpose tool!

Since I had previously studied and looked into oxygen and the body’s ability to both use and better utilize it, I knew that food, herbs, and water/hydration were intimately connected to the body’s ability to handle even higher states of oxygen utilization. CLICK TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Laird on the Power of Breathing to Succeed

Laird sits down for an interview with Lewis Homes for his ‘The  School of Greatness’ Podcast.
Before the interview, Laird led Lewis through an XPT session: water-based workout, strength training followed by therapy with heat and ice. All throughout the workout Laird focused on breathing routines which is explored in this interview.

-Your breathing is connected to your spirit.
-Master your breath and you master the strength of 10 tigers
-Oxygen fires every cell in your body
-Camaraderie versus competition
-Preparation to get in the zone – how you eat, how you sleep – the zone is the now, the moment, are you prepared?


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