More and more people are enjoying strength training, even more women are seen lifting big weights in the gyms now, the idea that 'strong is the new skinny' is a term we believe in. Striving for the size 0 frame isn't attractive or even healthy but a body and mind that shows strength and confidence is.
We are big fans of high intensity workouts and outdoor fitness, but we know all too well that without our regular yoga and Pilates practice we get injured and fall off the healthy wagon.
To enjoy your fitness for life and continue to see improvements it's best to compliment your training with solid stretching and relaxation both of which can be achieved through yoga and Pilates. We notice that through our teachings of these disciplines it enables us to perform certain exercise such as press ups, burpees or squats with controlled alignment with safety being at the forefront of what we do. Common injures we see are lower back sprains, torn ligaments in the knee, rotator cuff injuries, torn hip flexors and more. So, strength training will build muscle and strength but ultimately in order to perform a squat well you need the balance of both strength and flexibility. Here are 5 benefits we feel will enable you to enjoy your training injury free combining the wonders of both Yoga and Pilates.
1) Strength and Flexibility
Think of strength and flexibility like a see-saw. You have strength on one side, and flexibility on the other. Often we are more dominant with one than the other, a very flexible/mobile person often lacks muscle tone and strength. A naturally strong person lacks flexibility and often struggles to sit cross legged on the floor and will probably avoid stretching as it seems like an uncomfortable chore. We ideally want our see-saw to be balanced with equal amounts of strength and flexibility but often naturally we are not. For some people they look at yogis as tall, skinny and super flexible. However, on the other hand super strong is perceived as big, bulky and muscular. Neither of these extremes are ideal. If you look at a top ballet dancer, top swimmer, top gymnast their bodies are as close as one can get to ideal, but remember no one is perfect! The reason for this is that they have the strength to perform their exercise but also the flexibility to move with freedom and ease.
Tight glutes? quads? tight lower back from your squats, snatch?
If so try this stretch, try to relax and breathe into it, hold for anything between 20-60 seconds. Tuck the tail bone under to stretch the hip flexor, combine this with an arm stretch and side stretch whilst holding.
2) Fight 'n' Flight vs Health and Repair
In an intense workout we are producing adrenaline. This creates cortisol, the stress hormones that are released in a fight or flight situation. These hormones are great for when we are in a dangerous situation and also for tapping into occasionally during a hard workout as this helps to burn fat. However we are very rarely in physical danger, such as trying to escape a hazardous situation but stresses at work and everyday life can get our adrenals (the glands that produce adrenaline) pumping. It is not good to be constantly in this state of stress within the body because eventually everything gets exhausted, like most fuel it will run out. Mindful exercise can help enormously with building strength in the adrenals and coping with stress for the mind and body. A 15 minute Yoga savasana (relaxation pose) is known to give you the equivalent of 3 hours sleep. Always get enough sleep and rest, this is vital in repairing the body and keeping you in tip top shape.
Take a restful child's pose and stretch out the lower back.
3) Power and Stamina
With high intensity training we activate the fast twitch muscle fibres, this helps you to develop power and speed. In Pilates and Yoga doing movements slowly, and holding them for a while trains the slow twitch muscle fibres which builds stamina. Pilates and Yoga are readily becoming top go-to conditioning techniques for top athletes and fitness fanatics - this is because it helps balance these two aspects of the body's systems.
Shoulder mobility is essential in strength training, use yoga and Pilates to stay supple and injury free.
4) Good Muscle Tone
Pilates works by strengthening the body from the inside out, this deep core work if done properly will help to strengthening the postural muscles which in turn leads to better placements of the whole body. This makes you walk taller, giving your organs more space, allows for better breathing and will mentally make you feel more confident. So not only will it make you look good from the outside, you will feel good from internally. In both Yoga and Pilates you move through stretches giving the muscles a chance to lengthen whilst moving, always holding static stretches is not only not functional but it will not make you more flexible it will keep your muscles bulky and you will get that long, lean, toned physique.
Pilates will work and tone your core
5) Workout for the Mind Body and Soul
Pilates and Yoga have a strong emphasis on breath control and fluid movement. Yoga offers a meditative element and one of Pilates' main principles is focus, both of these help the body to cope with stress and relax the mind. These aspects can be taken into the gym or your outdoor fitness class, to help you to perform exercises in a more mindful, focused and calm way. Remember to always listen to your body and give it what it needs. If you feel like a hard work out, do it, if you wake up tired and lethargic, rest. We believe in good balance, and of course as well as all of this, good nutrition. But, that's a whole other subject, more on that next time :-). For now, enjoy your workouts in a safe, and injury free way.
Yoga and Pilates set in beautiful surroundings will also add to a greater sense of wellbeing.