As various types of yoga become more and more popular in the mainstream, many bodybuilders have come to adopt yoga into their weekly routine’s for its wide variety of benefits.
Top bodybuilder’s have even cited yoga and functional fitness training as pivotal changes that put them on the podium at competitions. Yoga is an excellent means of improving flexibility and reducing an athlete’s risk of injury—which, for hard training bodybuilders lifting all the time, is significant. While adding flexibility and functional strength, yoga also alleviates much of the soreness caused by heavy lifting.
While yoga has applications for many lifestyles and health conditions, we’ll explore specifically how yoga can help weight lifters, given the specific goals and demands that face these sorts of athletes. We’ll go over a few of the key reasons to explore yoga and why so many people turn to this ancient practice as a means of improving their health, both physically and mentally.
Yoga Build Muscle? Yup it works….
# 1 Strength & Flexibility
While weightlifting and strength training are excellent for sculpting the physical body that you desire, they won’t build flexibility. Yoga takes the strength that you’re developing and puts it to work at elongating your muscles. As you practice yoga, you develop greater and greater flexibility and strength in these stretched positions. The developing of strength in outstretched and otherwise awkward positions is easily transferable to athletic situations. By drawing oxygen into the muscles, yoga increases strength.
#2 Injury Prevention
If your overall goal is to promote your health, appearance and performance, then staying in the game is a major concern. By using yoga as a means of continually preparing your body for stress and stretched physical situations, you can give yourself a much better chance at avoiding injury. Yoga is known as the fountain of youth for good reason, especially, as your body ages, normal wear and tear compounds with everything you do in training. Yoga keeps your body healthy and able to continue to train at a high level.
#3 Fight Soreness
One of the best side effects of yoga as far as weight lifters are concerned is that your soreness will melt away. If you have an hour to commit to a class even once to two times a week, you will see major dividends in your recovery from hard workouts. The main reason for this is that yoga helps to flush out excess lactic acid from your muscles. Lactic acid build up and inflammation from weight training are the major causes of stiffness and muscle soreness following a workout. By flushing this from your system through yoga, you’re detoxing your muscles and preparing them for your next training session.
Yoga is excellent for developing physical balance and trains stabilizer muscles throughout the body that won’t typically be put to use by weight lifting movements. Balance is key to athletic performance and injury prevention. By requiring us to train our ability to balance our weight on one leg or in a lunge, yoga builds balance in ways that weight training doesn’t touch.
#5 Stress Relief & Mood Improvement
Who doesn’t carry around a little extra stress after a long week? A yoga class incorporates elements of breathing, posing and sometimes meditation. A restorative yoga class can help replenish and limber up sore muscles and also add a bit of serenity and calm to our week. These days everyone can use a bit of that.
Yoga For Muscle Building And Putting Into Action…
There are two methods that we suggest for incorporating yoga into your existing training routine. The first is simple, but costs a bit of money, and requires you to attend a class 1-2 times per week in addition to your regular training. The benefit here is that an experienced instructor will guide you through the right moves and keep an eye on your technique (ie some of the major benefits of a personal trainer at the gym). Some people also find that the class setting is motivating to them.
The other option is to begin performing yoga stretches in between your sets at the gym. Many bodybuilders like this option as it doesn’t require a change in schedule or location to incorporate yoga into an existing routine. This is also a great way to increase the overall value of your time spent at the gym, by creating a productive rest state between lifts. For this method, we’ve included some of our favorite yoga poses for weightlifters below.
5 Yoga Poses You Can Apply For Building Muscle
Yoga poses teach your muscles to contract for longer, improving your overall endurance. So, if you’re going to use the between sets method, make sure to hold each pose for at least 30 seconds.
#1 Standing Chest Expansion
This move stretches the intercostal muscles between the ribs, aligns and relaxes the shoulders, engages the diaphragm and balances air between the lungs. This is a must during chest day and is great for balancing your breathing in between heavy sets.
#2 Downward Dog into Upward Dog
This is really two poses but together they do magic for your abdominal, lower back, chest and hamstring muscles. Try not to bounce, but feel free to sway a bit forward and back in your down dog, fluctuating the tension between your hamstrings and shoulders. This is a favorite for the in between set mini sessions as it limbers up a variety of muscle groups in two poses.
#3 Standing Backbend
From a standing position, place your hands on your lower back and look up to the ceiling and exhale as you bend backwards and look to the wall behind you as you reach further and expand backwards, keeping your legs and glutes engaged. Go slow, even when you get more comfortable with this pose. As you come out of this one, curl your back forward and get a deep stretch forward, placing your palms on the floor. This combo provides a reset for your spine between sets of deadlifts or other heavy core work.
#4 Thread the Needle
Releases the shoulders by placing your body weight against the stretch of your arm. Stiffness after arm or shoulder workouts can disappear a lot sooner if you spend a few rounds of 30 seconds, each arm with this pose.
#5 Crescent Lunge
This relatively basic lunge position opens up the chest and shoulders while building stamina in the quads, providing a great introduction to the balance taught by yoga practice. The crescent lunge is also known for relieving back pain.
If you’re looking for a way to recover faster, get stronger and increase your athleticism while living longer and reducing stress, the answer is not a pill; it’s movement through yoga. This is one of the world’s most effective ways to detox your muscles and prepare your body for the next session while increasing mobility and flexibility. If your goal is a body that looks and truly is healthy inside and out, adding yoga to your routine is a no brainer. Yoga class provides an effective outlet for focusing your mind and body on your health, but if you’re looking for a way to combine yoga into your existing workout, use these 5 to get started and remember to hold each pose for the 30 seconds.
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