Combine yoga with weight lifting to achieve maximum performance with minimal pain and injury.
When you think of yoga, you probably picture a room full of skinny girls, bending themselves into positions that defy all laws of physics. But there’s also a functional side that can make you stronger, faster and more powerful in the gym.
By combining it with lifting weights you get the best of both worlds: maximum strength and performance with minimum pain and injury.
1. Yoga as bodyweight training.
Are you one of those people that trains one muscle group while completely neglecting another? If so, bodyweight training can help to even things up:
2. Yoga stretches tight muscles.
Do you ever feel your strength gains are limited by tight muscles and a limited range of motion? Muscles get tight from prolonged inactivity, e.g. sitting at a desk or in a vehicle for long periods of time; injury, as your body tries to protect the affected area; and after exercise, caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibers (also known as delayed onset muscle soreness).
Yoga is one of the most effective ways to release tension in tight muscles. It incorporates static and dynamic stretching to increase flexibility and suppleness throughout your entire body. Not only can this reduce the soreness caused by intense strength training but it’s also crucial for restoring full range of motion.
Unlike our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we no longer bend, stretch and move sufficiently throughout the day to keep our bodies optimally healthy. To stay flexible, supple and pain-free, especially if you train hard and lift heavy weights, you really need to incorporate consistent flexibility workouts into your training program.
3. Yoga promotes healthy joints.
Lifting weights strengthens the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joints, keeping them stable and efficient at absorbing impact. However, this can be too much of a good thing, and that’s where yoga comes in.
Firstly, moving through the poses circulates synovial fluid to the joints which allows the bones to glide over each other without friction. This fluid also delivers nutrients and oxygen to the cartilage, which unlike other body tissue, does not have its own blood supply.
Secondly, yoga improves range of motion because the sequences are so varied. In each workout you move through every plane of motion – bending forward, backward, side to side, rotating and even going upside-down.
4. Yoga trains balance.
We’re always hearing how core training is crucial for building strength, and essentially it all comes down to balance. Yoga balancing poses build deep core strength, improves joint stability, strengthens neural networks that control coordination, enhances body awareness, improves agility and reaction time, and builds stamina and perseverance. The result of the neural and muscular adaptations improves movement efficiency. Essentially you can create the same amount of force with less effort.
5. Yoga increases breath efficiency.
Breathing is not really something that we focus on in the gym but it can make a huge difference. In yoga you start each session by taking several deep breaths in and out through the nose, allowing your chest and abdomen to rise and fall. This encourages you to focus on your breath and trains you to use your full lung capacity.
During the sequence, when it feels challenging to hold a pose or your muscles feel uncomfortably tight, slow down your breath and you’ll find that you can stay in the position longer as you go deeper into the stretch.
When you think you’ve reached the point of failure, deepen your breath and see if you can dig deep and add one more rep to your set.
15-Minute Beginner Yoga Routine
You can do this 15-minute video either after your workout or on your recovery day to release tension in tight muscles and reduce feelings of discomfort or pain. Just be careful never to force a stretch.
Instead, deepen your breath and relax into the poses. The aim is progress not perfection. You do not need to do the poses ‘perfectly’ but to use them to get stronger and more flexible. If you find yourself straining to get into a pose, back off and modify it to suit your own unique and beautiful body!