Breathe, Focus, Excel
Exercises, Techniques, and Strategies for Optimal Athletic Performance
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In Breathe, Focus, Excel, Harvey Martin—breathing coach for top athletes and teams in the MLB, NHL, and NFL—explains the science behind breath work, how breathing affects various systems of the body, and why changing how you breathe can help you change your game.
Like any skill, breathing is a fundamental movement pattern that requires training to achieve mastery. Breathe, Focus, Excel guides you through breathing exercises that will expand the rib cage, protect the spine, and strengthen the pelvic floor. More importantly, each exercise is designed to help you improve performance:
- Generate more power
- Move with greater efficiency and ease
- Expedite recovery
- Improve aerobic capacity
- Enhance decision-making and focus in competition
- Reduce anxiety in high-stress, competitive situations
Earn continuing education credits! A continuing education exam that uses this book is also available. It may be purchased separately, or as part of a package that includes both the book and the exam.
AudienceSerious athletes who want to improve performance; reference for strength and conditioning professionals, coaches, yoga teachers, and mind and body specialists who work with these athletes.
Chapter 1. Fundamentals of Breath Awareness
Chapter 2. The Anatomy and Physiology of Breathing
Chapter 3. Athletic Performance and the Breath
Chapter 4. Emotions and the Breath
Part II. Breathing Exercises
Chapter 5. Exercises to Test and Measure the Breath
Chapter 6. Oxygenation Exercises
Chapter 7. Strengthening Exercises
Chapter 8. Recovery, Relaxation, and Emotional Regulation Exercises
Chapter 9. Environmental Stress Exercises
—Darin Olien, Producer and Costar of Emmy Award Winning Netflix Docuseries Down to Earth
“We look at athletes in awe because they show us, on a public stage, the maximum potential of human capability. You may wonder, 'How do they do it?' Most athletes will tell you it’s about fundamentals—about doing the simplest things really well and doing them consistently. What is more foundational than our breath? You can use it to achieve peak performance, to find inner peace, and to maximize your memory, presence, sleep, recovery, and so on—all by putting extra emphasis on something you already do thousands of time each day. I speak from experience when I say there is no better teacher at breath than Harvey Martin.”
—Jake Butt, Football Analyst for the Big Ten Network and Former Tight End for the Denver Broncos
“Take a deep breath. With Breathe, Focus, Excel, you’re about to embark on an adventure through the laws of nature and begin to understand that you have all the power in the world to make yourself feel good and perform at your highest level in life—one nasal breath at a time.”
—Alyssa Nakken, Coach for the San Francisco Giants (MLB), first full-time female coach in MLB history
"Harvey helped me learn how to use breathing techniques to conquer my fear of playing in cold weather. I was able to control my heart rate and breathing, and that elevated me to a higher level of on-field performance. When I'm out on the mound, my breath is a part of my pre-pitch routine every time. I'm very thankful for Harvey because without his involvement I don't think I'd be able to be on this wave I'm on now, where I'm able to play year after year and feel great about it."
—Marcus Stroman, Pitcher for the Chicago Cubs (MLB), MLB All-Star and Gold Glove winner
“Harvey is one of those generational minds and teachers who shifts the paradigm of high performance in sports, peak performance, and recovery. His value to any person, team, or organization, and to society in general, is incomparable! He’s impacted my life on and off the field, just as he has with anyone he’s breathed alongside!”
—Tyler Beede, Pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
“I first started working with Harvey before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; he helped me with heat acclimation, because the conditions in Japan were brutally hot. I learned several tools that gave me confidence in my first games. The sport of sailing is both mentally and physically demanding, so learning how to connect the two via breath has been key. The heat and cold training and the breath work were not only incredibly helpful to my performance but also a great way to add in something new and exciting to my regular training routine.”
—Lara Dallman Weiss, U.S. Olympic Sailing Team
“Working with Harvey since 2020 has been awesome. We go through a lot of ups and downs, stress, flights, time zone changes, lack of sleep, etc., and being more aware of my breath is an essential tool I wish I had a long time ago. Thanks, Harvey, for everything—always finish cold.”
—Joc Pederson, San Francisco Giants Player and Two-Time MLB World Series Champion
“After deciding that the effects of breath work were something I wanted to pursue, I’ve been able to incorporate it into my routine and have seen great improvements—physically and mentally—because of this tool. Working with Harvey has built a foundation of confidence within my performance, recovery, and mindset. I’ve been able to use different protocols, in and out of season, that have given me an even greater understanding of the benefit of breath. From working on controlling my breath in the sauna or in the weight room, I’ve been able to carry all these experiences onto the ice.”
—James van Riemsdyk, Left Winger for the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Exercises to Strengthen Inhalation Muscles
Improving your breath to improve your performance