Breath Mastery Scale

Level of Type of breath

passively inhale and brace on perceived effort


actively inhale and pressurize on perceived effort


actively exhale on perceived effort;

passively inhale on cessation of effort


passively exhale on compression;

passively inhale on expansion


act during control pause after exhalation

Deepening Mastery

passively extend the control pause

Force level breath (aka Power Breathing) is like injecting foam into a flat tire. It substitutes pressure (compression) for lack of (tensegrity) structure.

Increasing to the level of skill and mastery in one's breath is like a radial tire which adjusts air volume automatically appropriate to the needs of the terrain, vehicle and driver. It's tensegrity is composed of springy steel and proportionate pressure.

At the level of Skill and above, the Rating of Perceived Exertion and the depth of breath volume are directly related: as exertion increases greater volume must be released in order to stabilize the core. In other words, as RPE increases we move from normal breath volume, to complementary breath volume, to supplementary breath volume at the greatest RPE. Residual breath volume is always retained (if we are living creatures) and cannot be expelled. It along with the myofascial trains of Selective Tension act as the structural support system to absorb and retranslate force in any activity.

Breath Volume Depth
  • NORMAL volume of normal inhale/exhale
  • COMPLEMENTARY volume above your normal breath requiring moderate effort to exhale
  • SUPPLEMENTARY volume above your normal breath requiring intense effort to exhale
  • RESIDUAL volume of breath remaining in your lungs above maximal exhalation if still a living being

There are those who would argue that it is impossible with anything but Force level breath to move the ultra heavy amounts of weight displayed by professional powerlifters. I'm not concerned with powerlifting, nor do I train powerlifters. CST does not regard lifting weight, but rather moving the body around the weight in the most efficient manner possible ('motor sophistication').

The main problem is when people do not cycle out (and progress up) of the base of the Training Hierarchy Pyramid™. Repeated specificity of such gross, general movements creates an imbalance and doesn't work 'towards' anything. The danger is in 'hanging out there' since the cumulative effect is at best meeting one's genetic or age work capacity threshold and at worst debilitating pain and injury. Power training and the breath level of force compounds any unreleased residual tension, myofascial density, sensory motor amnesia and fear-reactivity.

Skill to Mastery Core Activation Scale

Lifting an amount of weight which would demand Force level breath (or lower) no longer contributes to the GPP of the Training Hierarchy Pyramid™. In other words, there is a threshold to how much GPP contributes to farther travel up the THP.

Once a general, gross base of GPP is added, little to no force ("power") breathing will be needed to progress up the Training Hierarchy Pyramid™. Strength recruitment becomes more and more proprioceptive based, and breath begins to be no lower than the level of skill.

This is exactly why at CST Seminars, we require a rate of technique of at least 6 and a breath level of at minimum Skill, since our goal is further sophistication into combination routines (where Force level breath and lower, and a technique level of 5 or lower is absolutely dangerous, and hemmoraghes performance.)

For the newbie it is a Divine gift to have Resistance level breath, and safer still to develop the level of Force in moving in a field of high tension. However, for the individual more developed in their motor sophistication, Skill and Mastery level breath supply proper structure without the need for high tension pressure and as a result, avoid the health dangers and the mobility restrictions of Force level breathing.