As I have progressed throughout my fitness journey, I have noticed that as I get older, the worse I typically feel after a workout. Back in high school and college (Which wasn’t even that long ago), it seemed as I could weight train every single day and never feel sore. Stretching was not a part of my regular routine and was usually an afterthought.
When I wake up in the morning, my body creeks and have a sore somewhere in my legs or back. This is the hard part about adjusting to a career that usually leaves you sitting behind a computer for at least 8 hours a day. My body was used to being active all throughout the day, and then all of a sudden came to a standstill.
In order to deal with this new lifestyle, stretching has become an essential part of my workout. I stretch for at least 5 – 10 minutes every day at the end of my workouts to help loosen up my muscles and to get the blood circulating. Even after doing this, it still seemed like it wasn’t enough. I needed something that stretched my muscles longer and was more intense. But what are some ways to get more flexible?
One of the easiest ways is by getting into a weekly yoga routine. Yoga will give your body new challenges by stretching muscles you typically wouldn’t stretch when you are at the gym. And if you go to a hotyoga studio, you can expect to turn your 60 minute session into an intense workout.
Here are 7 yoga poses for weightlifters to help your overall range of motion:
Begin in hands-and-knees position with knees below hips and hands positioned slightly forward of shoulders. As you inhale, spread fingers wide, rooting both palms firmly into the mat while simultaneously tucking toes under. As you exhale, begin to extend legs, drawing hips and tailbone toward the ceiling, creating an inverted V-shape with the body as the heels move toward floor. The head and neck should be positioned between the upper arms with feet situated hip-width distance apart. Focus on maintaining length in the spine in this pose, releasing shoulders away from the ears and keeping knees as softly or deeply bent as needed, while continuing to root firmly and equally through both hands and feet. Maintain this position, breathing for three to five complete breath cycles. Make it feel as if you are pulling your stomach into your spine.
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and press your inner hands firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward along the floor. Then straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks. Firm the shoulder blades against the back and puff the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Look straight ahead or tip the head back slightly, but take care not to compress the back of the neck and harden the throat.
Twisting Crescent Lunge
Start off in downward facing dog. Bring your right foot forward and bend your back knee as it hovers a few inches off the ground. Bring your hands to heart center and twist to your right, placing your left elbow outside your right knew. Hold this pose for about 3 – 5 breaths. Reset into downward dog and put your left foot forward, bending your back knee. Bring your hands to heart center and twist to your left, placing your right elbow outside your left knee. Hold this pose for about 3 – 5 breaths.
Start off standing. Step your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Exhale and extend your torso to the right directly over the plane of the right leg, bending from the hip joint, not the waist. Anchor this movement by strengthening the left leg and pressing the outer heel firmly to the floor. Rotate the torso to the left, keeping the two sides equally long. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel. Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left thumb. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute and then switch sides.
Stand at top mat with feet together, arms extended alongside the body. As you inhale, sweep both arms up toward ceiling, palms facing one another. With left arm extended bend right arm, drawing elbow in to touch right hip with palm facing up. Shift weight to left foot and bend right knee, drawing right heel toward right glute with knees close together. Keeping right thumb pointed toward back of mat, reach right hand back to capture inside of right foot. Inhale and extend the spine, reaching toward ceiling with left finger tips. On the exhalation, begin to press right foot into hand and right hand into foot, drawing right heel toward ceiling and right thigh parallel to floor. Continue lifting right leg as much as accessible while keeping hips and shoulders squared with chest lifted. Hold for three to five complete cycles of breath before repeating on the opposite side.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and turn your feet out, externally rotating your hips. With your hands clasped together at your chest, push your hips back and squat down, keeping your back straight and your upper body lifted. Make sure you’re pushing through your heels and engaging your inner thighs as you come back to your starting position.
Start off standing. Bend down and place your hands between your legs keeping them about shoulder-distance apart. Spread your fingers and press evenly across both palms and through your knuckles. Press your shins against the back of your upper arms. Draw your knees in as close to your underarms as possible. Lift onto the balls of your feet as you lean forward. Round your back and draw your abdominal muscles in firmly. Keep your tailbone tucked in toward your heels. Look at the floor between your hands or at a point even more forward, if possible. As you continue to lean forward, lift your feet off the floor and draw your heels toward your buttocks. If it’s difficult to lift both feet at the same time, try lifting one foot and then the other. Balance your torso and legs on the back of your upper arms.
By incorporating the 7 yoga poses mentioned above into your workout schedule at least 1-2 times a week, you can help increase your flexibility, resulting in better muscle recovery and less soreness!
Bobby Petrillo is 24 years old from Charlotte NC. He went to UNCW where he studied accounting and has been working in the IT Audit space since graduating in 2017. Fitness has always been a big part of his life ever since freshman of high school. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping others achieve their goals.