Exercise Monday: The Flexible Factor – Yoga Practice #1
I’m back with another exercise suggestion. I was going to tell you all about my new exercise program that I have been vigorously following for 4 weeks, but, I’m going to drag it out a bit more for the end result. It will be more of an impact that way. The goal is to reveal what the plan has done to change my body. I can tell you that it is an 8 week program designed to burn fat. Although it is just exercise, they do recommend taking in fewer calories to help your progress…DUH!
Today I want to suggest a supplement to your workouts. An addition, if you will, that should not be ignored. It is often said in the weight loss community, that in order to lose weight and change your body you need to eat less and move more. Specifically, if you want to literally change your shape your “move more” needs to include weight lifting or strength training as it is often referred to. If you do this on a regular basis, you may find that your back, leg and upper body muscles become stiffer the stronger you get. When I think of a Line Backer in football, I don’t think elegance and grace. I think of a M.A.C. truck barreling down the highway.
Being bulky and muscular does tend to make the muscles less flexible; no science needed, I think it’s obvious. Therefore, increasing flexibility in the body alongside your weight routines also needs to be a component in the working out regime. Why? Well, I think that working on and building flexibility will help your strength increase in the long run. They work synergistically together. The more able you are to stretch further, the more ability to isolate a muscle for higher quality reps; perhaps because the muscle will be less apt to seize up with tension. The muscle may not tighten and become fatigued too soon if you are flexible. Plus, being flexy helps the recovery of the muscle to not be so sore and painful. The next time you workout similar muscles, they won’t be aching due to excessive stiffness if you have adequately stretched them. I also recall in ballet that if you stretch the muscle after it has been worked, it will elongate better and not create a short stocky type of build. This is not proven as far as I know, but I do know a lot of ballet dancers who swear by this.
The core is also important to keep strong, and all movement stems from the core. The core, to me, means the box of your shoulders to your hips. Without good core stability, the weight workout, no matter how intense, can suffer since all limbs stem from the core. You don’t want to rely on surrounding muscles for stability when lifting weights. This lessens the intensity of the muscle being worked. You want to focus on the muscle at hand and isolate it without the aid of surrounding muscles to “cheat” the lifting/lowering. If you’re bending awkwardly or having to use less weight because there is strain due to poor core strength, you should consider increasing the power through the center of the body in addition to your regular routine.
Enter Yoga. Yeah, it’s granola-y and full of weird spiritual people in tight clothes, but it can do amazing things. Have you ever done a real Yoga Class at a studio? It is butt hard! Not easy or peaceful. My muscles were screaming for days and I took the beginner class! I’m not suggesting that type of yoga for you, yet…. How about you start off with something like this? I’m going to do it tonight after dinner (wait and hour though). I think it perfectly helps correct all of those issues I talk about above. It can’t hurt you. And all else aside, who couldn’t benefit from being more flexible?