Yoga for Weightlifters
This post was sponsored by Michael Finnigan (see below Bio)
For many of you runners, weightlifting is an integral part of their routine. One thing that drives me crazy when I go to the gym, though, is how many muscle-heads you find sitting around, surrounded by dumbbells, overtraining their biceps to the point where they can’t fully extend their arms. Are they training to be professional tea drinkers? Or T-Rex impersonators? I just don’t know.
For me, having a full range of movement as well as large muscles is the ultimate goal and that’s why I have made a point of supplementing my weightlifting with yoga. The benefit of doing so is that yoga helps to improve flexibility, prevent injury and will even help build muscle mass – not that the meatheads need anymore.
The reason for this is that every muscle in your body is covered by a fibrous tissue called fascia. Fascia is extremely tough and, amongst other things, helps to keep your muscles in place. By doing yoga you can stretch the fascia and give your muscles more room to grow. It also helps remove lactic acid build-up from muscles which means that your muscles can recover faster and better and you’re your body more time to concentrate on building muscle.
So with that in mind I have put together a selection of effective yoga positions for weightlifters based on this full body Compound Workout to help you get the most out of your workout. Without further ado:
Chest & Triceps
Hero Pose (Virasana)
Start this pose by sitting on your heels and getting into Hero Pose. Then slowly lean back and place your palms flat on the floor behind you, facing away from your body. Lift your chest as high as you can, whilst arching the back and pushing your hips down into your heels. Further stretch by lowering your head and extending your throat. Hold for 30 seconds then move back into Hero Pose.
Legs and Abs
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Start Downward-Facing Dog by bending your knees, leaning forward and then placing your hands on the floor. Breathe out and slowly lift your legs away from the floor. Keep the knees slightly bent to begin with and extend the tail bone out so that you feel some resistance. Breathe out and press the heels towards the floor, straighten your knees without locking them and straighten your back. Tense your shoulder blades to help achieve this and keep the head between the arms. Hold the pose for 2-3 minutes and then slowly bend knees to move out of the pose and remember to slightly lift toes to engage leg muscles.
Back & Bicep
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Start of in tabletop position making sure that your knees and arms are set directly beneath your hips and shoulders. Look down at the floor and as you exhale round your spine up towards the ceiling. Hold for 60 seconds and then move into Cow Pose.
Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
As you inhale, lift your shoulders and hips towards the ceiling and let the stomach sink to the floor. Keep your head up with your eyes looking at the floor.
Child’s Pose (Bala)
Slide back so that you bum sits on your heels and then exhale slowly as you lay you torso down between the thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the pelvis and elongate the back as you lay your hands alongside your legs. Let the weight of your arms gently stretch out your back and rest in this position for one minute.
Shoulders, Traps and Abs
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Because we are concentrating on the shoulders with this pose legs are optional. Start of by stretching our arms forward and spread your shoulder blades across your back. Cross your arms so that the right arm is above the left and then bend your arms upwards. The back of the hands should be facing each other. Move your hands so that the palms are touch as much as possible and lift your elbows up. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Lastly, it is important not to do these poses during your work out. Either do them at the beginning or the end, but ideally both. Also, with all yoga routines it is good to finish with Corpse Pose. A brief guide is to lie on your back with palms up, but it is actually a lot more complex than that, so I will leave the research up to you.
One final thing to mention, doing yoga does not sacrifice strength. Many people mistakenly assume that the two are mutually exclusive. Wrong! When you stretch, before and after your workout, you help your muscle to remember its full range of motion and assist its growth in a way that doesn’t look like somebody replaced your bicep with a hydraulic winch – seriously I don’t know why it annoys me so much – and whilst you might not be able to drink a cup of tea as well as the average meathead at least you will have a body that looks good and has the ability to play sport. Namaste!