5 Ways Yoga Can Make You Stronger [VIDEO]

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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.

Cobra RFS Abi Carver

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:

  • Yoga integrates muscle groups to create overall, functional strength.
  • Sustaining yoga poses increases muscular endurance.
  • Yoga focuses on building strength in the core stabilizer muscles of the abs, obliques, lower back and pelvis.
  • Yoga can reduce muscle soreness following intense weights sessions, and give your muscles, joints and bones time to repair and grow.
  • Lifting weights is inherently competitive, whereas yoga is reflective and develops self-discipline.
  • Yoga can add variety to your training program which means you are more likely to stick to it.

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!

About the Author

Abi Carver is a yoga instructor and personal trainer. She is on a mission to make yoga more accessible, especially to guys, so that they can do the activities and sports they are passionate about with less pain and more skill. Her app with 120 yoga videos that are each 15-minutes long and specifically designed for athletes, is free to download at Follow Abi on Instagram @yoga15abi.

Comments for This Entry

  • Shellie Kiesslinger

    Abi - have you any longer Yoga sessions avalible? i would like something abit longer to get my teeth into ... Can you point me in the right direction. Thanks

    August 5, 2016 at 2:30 am

  • Regained Wellness

    I've totally been embracing yoga now, especially hot yoga. As a life long athlete and someone who prides himself on how hard I push myself in the gym, yoga has taken me down a peg or two! It is a whole other level of health and fitness! -Jamie

    July 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

  • leena brit

    Yoga is most effective way to stay yourself fit and healthy. It is very effective in depression also.

    July 18, 2015 at 5:57 am

  • Harodim

    As someone who lifts weights and practices yoga, I smiled as I read this. It's a great combination. My philosophy towards health and fitness is to strive to be versatile - that means being strong, fit and flexible throughout life. For me yoga is a key part of that. Not to mention that it prepares the body and mind for the stillness of meditation which is another hugely beneficial activity. There is another thing that yoga is great for and that's posture. It does a great job of realigning me physically (and mentally) after a hard workout session. Nice article Abi :)

    July 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    • Abi Carver

      Thank you so much Harodim. Yoga is a great complement to lifting weights and to all forms of exercise. As you have discovered, it is key to being a well-rounded athlete. I have lots of videos on my site if you want to go deeper.

      July 7, 2015 at 6:53 am

  • kongo

    Is it just me, or is there no linked video?

    June 29, 2015 at 7:49 pm

  • William Fritz

    It's truly amazing what Yoga has done for me in my fitness. As I get older, I simply get tighter. Yoga has changed that and has made stiffness a thing of the past. Great Post, thank you for sharing!

    June 29, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    • Abi Carver

      Thank you William. That's awesome that yoga is a part of your training program. It really is incredibly effective for releasing the tightness that builds up when you work out hard.

      June 30, 2015 at 6:20 am

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