Yoga for Sports Series: Yoga for Weightlifters....Seriously? Seriously Yes!
As we have discussed in posts before, yoga is very multidimensional. It can be practiced, not just for individuals looking to achieve flexibility, but even strength, balance, endurance, a way to challenge the mind and much more. Yoga can be multipurposed, and used for many different crafts. Whether you are a beginner to exercising in general, a full-blown athlete, or advanced exercise enthusiasts, yoga can offer something for everyone.
Upon this Yoga for Sports Series journey, we have talked about how yoga can benefit anyone from runners, to baseball players, even rowers to build-up strength, stretch and endurance. In this article, we'll explore some of the benefits of yoga for weightlifters or bodybuilders.
Let's first talk endurance. Endurance can be both physical and mental, and indeed in bodybuilding you need both. In bodybuilding, it's important to not just be able to keep muscles engaged in activation for as long as possible, pumping blood into the area of concentration, but it also takes endurance on the mental side of things. To do the training that it takes day in and day-out, you must have a sense of intense focus, concentration both for everyday sessions, but the long haul as well.
Yoga is wonderful because it adds to the ability for many to increase there aerobic and anaerobic endurance, meaning as individuals, we can workout for extended periods of time. Many weightlifters may likely tell you, it's sometimes more about your mental prep and intrinsic motivation then the physical aspects.
However, as it relates to the physical part of things, one would think that the longer you are able to workout at top intensity, the stronger or more improvements you'll make within your body, as it relates to bodybuilding in general.
Harvard Health posted an article discussing research on yoga and muscle endurance. A small study involving sedentary individuals underwent 8-weeks of yoga, 2 times a week. After the study, participants had greater muscle strength and endurance, as well as flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness.
Find more about this particular study here!
Are we here telling you yoga is going to "build huge muscles", no we're not at all. What yoga may prepare you for however is the challenging mental part of weightlifting or bodybuilding, as well as helping you stay more engaged in specific exercises for longer periods of time.
According to an article posted on Yoga Journal, yoga can help improve your endurance because it increases stamina. This is the concept we're trying to get at, and they said it best. It not only can help with stamina as it relates to "the physical" part of bodybuilding, but also the physiological and mental part. As grueling as the sport can be at times, both may be needed to maximize results.
A Reduced Risk of Injury/Recovery from Injury
Preforming yoga on a regular basis can help prepare your body for a vigorous session, but also help your body to wind down after one. Oftentimes weightlifters may focus on one large muscle, or muscle groups, potentially neglecting smaller stabilizer muscles. With certain yoga postures and poses, we may be able to target more of those smaller, stabilizer muscle groups, further decreasing our risk of injury.
MensJournal says it best, "while the showoff muscles get all the acclaim, they'd be nothing without the supporting cast of smaller stabilizers and assisting muscles".
Yoga postures, poses and maneuvers for weightlifters can help in several ways for muscles, joints and overall stability of the body. Examples of some of the smaller areas of the body important to protect, include the rotator cuff, obliques, and hamstrings.
With that said, there are specific yoga exercises that can help target these groups of muscles. However, that's not to say yoga is going to help build huge hamstrings muscles or obliques, it's important to add exercises into your weight program to target them. However, yoga may help reduce risk of injuring these smaller, more supporting areas of the body.
The ability to create great flexibility and also focus and activate many smaller muscle groups lends itself to most likely prevent injuries, which lends itself as to why more weightlifters may be using yoga then ever before.
Club USA Fitness discusses the benefits of practicing yoga routinely in the realm of not just bone health, but strengthening your spine, working the tendons and ligaments, making them less susceptible to breakdown. .
A 2002 study looked at yoga and it's potential benefit to the work force, on stress-induced musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain, carpel tunnel, neck tension and eye strain. Conclusions of the study are broad, but state that yoga at work is "convenient and a practical outlet, that improve work performance by relieving tension".
Improving Posture: Helps Focus on Opposing Muscle Groups
Every weight lifter knows that posture is essential for
great performance, as well as stage postures for bodybuilding shows. Thanks to yoga techniques helping with alignment, weightlifters can improve their
posture by doing a variety of concentrated maneuvers and positions.
Related Article: Yoga Maneuvers and Stretches to Help Develop Better Posture
A strength and conditioning specialist posted an article on Yoga International discussing these 2 seemingly contradictory activities, working together. "Weightlifting helps to build bulk, causing shortening and tightening of muscles, where yoga can help relax the muscles", potentially boosting athletic performance.
It's easy for people who weight train to get caught in a cycle of overworking certain muscle groups, however in doing this you create an imbalance, if you're not working the opposing muscles, it can cause posture issues and injury.
With yoga maneuvers for weightlifters, we can now hone in on certain muscles groups to maintain good flexibility, range of motion, stretch ,and better lengthening of muscles.
Better Range of Motion
It goes without saying that this is one of the most important reasons weightlifters get involved in yoga. With the intense weights leading to increase mass and muscle shortening, many weightlifters can find themselves stiff and rigid, even causing issues with performing certain workout routines with as much proficiency as they would if the range of motion was better.
Yoga helps to keep the joints flexible, the muscles loose, and elongated, all helping with ROM.
According to BodyBuilding.com, yoga helps to move joints through full range of motion and develops balance, which is important because lifting most often happens through a more two-dimensional stance.
Another article on BodyBuidling.com discusses issues even with simple movements like bending over to pick an object up off the floor. If you have tight hips and hamstrings, you actually can increase your risk of injury, due to the inability to maintain a neutral spine.
What Yoga Poses Should you Try?
This is a great set of techniques and maneuvers, even for beginners, perfect for weightlifters, & power-lifters to try.