Do you, like me, find enjoyment in lifting heavy objects up and down on a regular basis to then showcase your physique on stage in front of 100’s possibly 1000’s of spectators? If So, then holding poses or stretches or even balancing on one foot while taking “deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth” may seem of little benefit to you. Think again!

As a female figure competitor, I started lifting weights at the age of fifteen. Fast forward ten years, my body was feeling the stress. Decreased hip mobility affected my squats, lack of flexibility had me tight And achy from shoulders to my back. As far as bodybuilders go, I was mild on the ‘tight’ scale. After a little deliberation, I decided to give yoga a try and after only weekly practice the last six months, I’ll be keeping it in my training regime. Here’s just a few ways bodybuilders or avid weight lifters can benefit.

Injury Prevention and Maintenance

Flexibility And Mobility

  • Whether it’s hatha hot yoga or vinyasa choreographed fluid movement, yoga will stretch, open and release all muscles and joints
  • The staple, ‘downward dog’ pose opens the shoulders, improving mobility. A common complaint in bodybuilding with excessive pressing movements, ( bench and overhead pressing).
  • Warrior poses practised in lunge positions will help towards opening the hips hence improving flexibility and mobility.

Posture

  • Every yoga pose has a strict set up. Hold a certain pose and you’ll quickly learn where your discomforts are and what requires some loosening.
  • Aiming to hold your body in certain upright positions will improve posture by lengthening the spine, loosening muscles, so you can open the chest, draw back the shoulders and reap a better overall posture.

Active Recovery

  • Nobody said you had to lower your workload as yoga can be incorporated into an active recovery session so you’ll perform better and more comfortably in your training.

Injury Prevention and Maintenance

Mind Muscle Connection

  • One of the staple rules for hypertrophy (muscle building), is focusing the mind on the specific muscle being trained for maximal muscle fibre recruitment.
  • In many ways, yoga improves body awareness . Being lower intensity, you can truly focus on a particular muscle which then can be transferred to the weights room.
  • Being more in tune with your body will allow you to reap the most out of each muscle group.

Posing / Flexing in Bodybuilding

  • A huge part, and in some ways the most challenging component a competitor faces is flexing for long periods of time.
  • The long isometric holds in yoga such as the plank or warriors, reflect that of posing on stage.
  • Yoga practice in this way improves long duration muscle endurance or “posing endurance ” if you like.
  • Many yoga poses are performed single legged which in turn develops coordination and balance.

Individual Competition Routines

  • Dependent on the category, a competitor must design and perform an individual routine to music.
  • Many yoga poses are graceful and theatrical which
  1. Improves routine creativity and
  2. Allows for a stronger, more fluid moving routine.

You don’t need to be a committed ‘yogi’ to add yoga practice and movements into your training. It is clear that committed gym goers and people like me who like to put many many layers of tan on for stage, can improve training results by working on muscle and joint longevity in yoga.

Rachel Moss | Lifestyle Coach & Figure Bodybuilder