YOGA AS A SUPPLEMENT TO TRADITIONAL STRENGTH TRAINING

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Strength training has been usually focussed on purely physical growth or development. Yoga, on the other hand, is a holistic health and fitness system that has been around for thousands of years, helping to develop the body in conjunction with the mind.  It was merely a matter of time before fitness enthusiasts started to explore this ancient practice, to see if they could use yoga as a supplement to traditional strength training.

 

Strength training typically uses free weights or specialised gym machines to create resistance, with a specific number of repetitive muscle contractions or ‘reps’ spread across a pre-defined number of exercise sets. Most trainers recommend at least two sessions of strength training a week to maintain an efficient metabolism. In fact, many doctors also advise resistance training as an important tool to prevent bone loss.

 

From a resistance training perspective, yoga is an interesting choice because many postures orient the body in a way that requires the support of muscles working against gravity. In essence, this is a form of resistance training, though the focus is on overall physical and mental health. So, in order to integrate yoga as a supplement to traditional strength training, it is best to adopt a two-pronged approach

 

Increase muscle size with Strength Training:

  • This is a very practical approach to building muscle effectively. There are a lot of time-tested exercise sets that stimulate muscle growth by targeting specific muscles or muscle groups.
  • The key is to follow the basic principle of progressive overload, using greater resistance as the muscles grow stronger and adapt to the weights as subsequent progress occurs.
  • It is important to allow 24 – 48 hours between training sessions for muscle repair and recovery. This leads to an optimal increase in muscle mass, but must also be accompanied by appropriate diet modification
  • As far as possible, the focus should be on compound exercises, involving multiple joints and muscle groups, instead of isolation movements for a single muscle

 

Improve flexibility and endurance with Yoga:

  • This is a more balanced approach to building strength, and a choice of yoga postures can tone muscles all over the body, maintaining a balance within the targeted muscle groups
  • Yoga improves endurance because muscles are used to hold isometric poses, with the muscles themselves providing opposing resistance. These moves are repeated several times during the workout, resulting in increased capacity for muscle endurance
  • Flexibility and balance become important factors in strength training, especially as resistance increases. Yoga, as a form of functional fitness, can increase flexibility of muscles and joints, and also reduce the risk of injury while performing heavy lifts
  • Most weight training focusses on concentric muscle contraction, with most of the loading occurring while the muscle contracts. Yoga, on the other hand, balances this out by providing resistance during the eccentric phase of muscle contraction, leading to balanced flexibility in the joints and muscles

For most people who are trying to attain an acceptable level of fitness, a combination will usually be the best solution. Weight training with resistance tools like weights or machines, coupled with yoga body-weight exercises can lead to wonderful improvements in overall health. It’s a great idea use yoga as a supplement to traditional strength training, instead of trying to replace one with the other.

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