Faster recovery, greater flexibility, and increased strength may be as easy as adding yoga to your workout routine.
If I had a dime for every male client to scoff at the suggestion of taking up yoga to improve their performance, I’d probably have… well… at least ten bucks. Yoga’s gotten a bad rap for being “a chick workout”, “slow”, “boring” and “a waste of time when training to build muscle,” but I’m here to tell you that those are lies, lies, LIES! Incorporating yoga into your training routine actually drastically improves your flexibility, strength, and athletic performance.
As I’m sure you’ve heard before, bodybuilding and sports specific workouts require rest days to avoid the perils of overtraining, but the most effective rest days are not spent on the couch watching re-runs of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Instead, by incorporating active rest days through yoga, you’ll break up lactic acid and scar tissue that lead to soreness.
But how does this all actually happen? Simply put, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is the result of chemical irritants that develop from the stress placed on the muscle tissue during a workout. Increasing blood flow sends oxygen and healing nutrients to stiff muscles, washing away the waste. Yoga, and its three dimensionality of the movement, makes it one of the most effective recovery exercises.
But if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe former New York Giant Amani Toomer. In the final year of his 12 year NFL career Toomer said, “If I hadn’t done yoga, I’d be out of the league by now.” Amani is hardly the only athlete to experience decreased range of motion and joint problems because of repetitive heavy lifting and training. This loss of flexibility often results in injury for tight muscles can force your body to recruit other muscle groups that are not intended to bear a heavy load in a particular lift. That’s why many people with tight hammys end up throwing out their backs during deadlifts. These types of injuries can be prevented by with yoga.
The best style of yoga for athletes is a combination of Ashtanga and Power, as both flow a bit more quickly and shouldn’t bore you to tears. See if your gym offers a yoga class and try it! Of course, if you’re too much of a pansy to do that, get a video to try it at home while your significant other makes fun of you. In the meantime, get yourself acquainted with these three challenging poses.
This yoga pose will challenge your coordination while opening up your hips and hamstrings. Take a wide stance, left toes toward the front of your mat turned in that direction, right toes perpendicular from the front. Shift your hips back, then lower your torso toward the left foot while lowering the right hand to the outside of your left foot. The left hand should extend into towards the sky. Think of your back foot as an anchor as you rotate the torso from your lower back. Hold for 10 breaths and don’t forget to do both sides.
This yoga pose strengthens your legs while opening up your chest and shoulders. Stand wide with your right toes pointing forward and your back leg perpendicular to the right foot. Lunge forward, sinking into the right hip and keeping the back leg straight. Interlace your hands behind your back and lift them up as you fold your torso over your front leg. Connect your head to your knee and press down, using the leverage to draw your hands further up behind your head. Hold for 10 breaths. Repeat with the other leg forward.
Thisyoga pose strengthens ankles, thighs, and calves, while stretching the shoulders and the chest. Stand with feet hips distance apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor, palms facing inward and shoulder blades tucked in firmly. Bend slightly so that the knees end up just slightly over your feet and your tailbone drops down, creating a long spine. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing through your nose and repeat 2 more times.
Incorporating yoga and the poses above into your training will help you recover faster, while becoming both more flexible, and a more dynamic athlete. For those reasons, I’d urge you to give yoga a shot before throwing it under the bus. After all, if it works for NFL wide receivers, it will probably work for you…
In addition to yoga 1R would recommend the following supplements to improve your recovery between workouts: