Do you enjoy doing yoga, but you’re wondering if you need to work on something more – something to improve your strength? The answer depends on your individual fitness goals.
Yoga and other exercises that use your body weight can be a great way to tone and strengthen your muscles. However, if you intend to look like a bodybuilder, you most likely to need to lift weights.
As you’re planning your workouts, consider how you can use yoga by itself or in combination with other activities. Use these tips to design a routine that will enhance your strength and overall fitness.
Using Yoga for Strength Training:
Read up on class descriptions.
Different forms of yoga have their own unique benefits so choose a style that emphasizes strength. Consider Vinyasa and Ashtanga sessions, along with Power yoga classes. Another interesting one is Aerial Yoga which has many elements of Pilates.
You build strength, muscle tone and endurance by gradually intensifying your workouts. That may mean doing a longer series of sun salutations, in addition to standing poses and inversions.
Hold poses longer.
You can also increase resistance by remaining in a pose for additional seconds or minutes. This type of workout is called isometric training. It is very effective for maintaining strength and stabilizing joints. It is low impact, strengthens your connective tissues like ligaments and tendons, and often used in rehabilitation after injuries. Another benefit is that you will be forced into proper breathing. Feel the burn!
Keep your form in check.
To stay safe, start with basic poses where you can learn correct alignment. Injuries happen when you get tired and start getting sloppy. Use props like straps and blocks if you need them. For example, when doing lunges you can use blocks on either side to keep your balancing and straightness in check. Don’t rely on blocks, they are only used for cues.
This is AS IMPORTANT as the workout itself. Excessive workouts actually weaken your muscles. The micro-tears in your muscles that are created during a workout need to repair themselves. If you don’t let your body do this, you are tearing more muscles on top of what is torn already.
He’s a tip – the bigger lower body muscles need more rest than your upper body. Your legs are used all the time (walking for example) but your upper body is not. This means your upper body is recovering faster. A rule of thumb to follow – give your legs at least 2 days of rest and your upper body at least 1 day.
And, take at least one day off from vigorous activity each week and make sleep a priority.
Nourish your body with whole foods. In particular, consuming protein within two hours of working out may help build muscles. This is something I’ve talked about in a yoga diet article.
Why eat a yoga diet. Without a doubt, if somebody were to say they thought Yoga was just stretching after they saw a student leave a Yoga class and later eat at McDonald's or something, they probably would be correct ... Read More
Supplementing Yoga for Strength Training:
Yoga and Pilates feature many similar movements, and the teachers at your studio may blend the two. It can be a big help with firming up your core. As mentioned before, Aerial yoga is a style of yoga that does this very well.
For endurance and strength, sign up for CrossFit. This challenging workout will teach you a variety of movements using equipment or just your body weight. I enjoy this because workouts are constantly varied – this type of training shocks your muscles every time because they have no time to adjust to the same boring routine.
Climb a wall.
Indoor climbing facilities have been spreading across the country. It’s a fun way to tone your whole body and maybe prepare for an outdoor expedition. You’ll find out fairly quickly that you have muscles you never thought existed…you’ll be sore the next day but it is worth it.
Train to fight.
If you’re already in top shape, you might be ready for boxing or Mixed Martial Arts. It’s one way to make fast gains in upper and lower body strength. This will work your cardio as well.
Buy resistance bands.
For inexpensive equipment that’s easy to take with you on business trips, order some resistance bands. You can use them to intensify many simple floor exercises for your whole body. Remember, DO NOT get sloppy and keep your form in check.
Strength training with barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines deserve their popularity. You can design a program with so much variety that it will maintain your interest and keep giving your body new challenges to overcome.
Make yourself heavier.
In many sports, athletes use weighted belts and weighted vests to simulate a heavier body, creating resistance, using gravity and momentum to their advantage. Doing a workout this way allows you to train specifically for the movements you’re trying to make without hanging onto dumbells and altering your form. Think of any bodyweight exercise like a side plank, a normal plank, Bridge pose, push-ups, chin-ups, lunges, and running, to name a few. Imagine how strong you’ll feel after taking the “baggage” off.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) will make any routine more effective. That’s where you alternate between short bursts of hard work and slightly longer intervals of gentler activity. It’s also ideal for busy schedules because you can achieve greater results while spending less time at the gym.
To increase your fitness level further, you may consider timing your sets and reps. Take a good look at what you’re doing now. Are you doing an exercise and then taking a long break you could be walking around waiting for your heart rate to come down or going the long way to the water fountain).
If so, STOP, instead time your reps and sets. Do your set and give yourself exactly 1-minute rest. A clever way you can use this is by jumping between 2 or 3 different exercises (different muscles – usually the opposites) while taking a timed rest in between. That will keep you active and moving.