Lift Heavy and Do Yoga: Improve Your Yoga Practice Through Weight-Lifting

Contrary to popular belief, yoga and heavy weightlifting are a match made in heaven. Like peanut butter and jelly, they are opposites that combine to create a delicious creation.

I have been lifting weights since I was a teen. But, as s I got more into yoga, I began to move away from weight training. I couldn’t figure out a way to combine the two that made sense. A few years ago however, I began to put the puzzle together.

I initially didn’t realize what I was doing, because well, I didn’t know what I was doing- all I knew was that it felt right.

What I eventually formulated is the topic of today’s blog: LHDY  or “Lift Heavy and Do Yoga.”

Most yogis know nothing about weight training. Many actually think it is bad for them and their practice.

They think it goes against what yoga is all about. Main stream yoga thought specifically, has a tendency to look down upon exercise outside of yoga. There is an underlying belief that yogis can only practice yoga.

This is quite naive and limiting. Not only in thought but also in terms of physical growth.

Practicing yoga is beneficial to the body in so many ways, so why not utilize weight training to make it even more effective?.

A strong yoga practice will make you physically and mentally strong while increasing flexibility and focus. It can even heal the body from years of tension and pain. Adding a heavy weight lifting program into the mix will not only increase these benefits, but can actually take your yoga practice to a new level.

How to combine yoga and weight training:

Firstly, the type of weight training I am referring to is know as 5×5 training (that’s 5 sets of 5 reps).

5×5 training requires maximum effort in the gym, no more than 2-3 times per week. With out going to far into it, 5×5 training focuses on building power and strength by loading the body with heavy-compound movements, such as bench press, squats, dead-lifts, barbell rows, military presses and dips.

The key is to engage large muscles groups, to efficiently build the most strength possible. Limiting the amount of reps to only five won’t break down the muscles to complete fatigue, like traditional workouts will.

Traditional single-body part workouts (like doing 4-5 different chest exercises in one session) leave the specific body part sore for days, rendering it almost useless. This is how lifting weights gets in the way of a yoga practice.

Imagine trying to hold down-dog after killing your arms and shoulders in the gym the day before! No thanks, yoga is already hard enough.

Here’s a sample 5×5 workout and yoga split week:

Bench press   185lbs     5×5
Squats            225lbs     5×5
Barbell rows   135lbs     5×5
10-15 minutes of HIIT on elliptical machine

60-90 minute Vinyasa yoga class (use for cardio-vascular health and calorie burn)

Dead-lifts        225lbs  5×5
Pull downs      100lbs  5×5
Military press  135lbs  5×5
10-15 minute of HIIT of 40 yard sprints

60-90 minute Vinyasa yoga class (use for cardio-vascular health and calorie burn)

Repeat Monday’s workout. Next Monday, repeat Wednesday’s workout. Alternate each week.

60-90 minute Hatha or Restorative yoga for recovery.

5×5 lifting is efficient and effective. In one hour, the whole body can be pushed and engaged. This requires the nervous system to go into overdrive to accommodate the heavy loads placed on the body. The results are: muscle growth, increased strength, high caloric usage and a positive release of hormones in the body (this is especially beneficial for men due to the high amounts of testosterone released).

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, is where I learned about 5×5 training and as a result was able to reincorporate weight training into my yoga practice.

Did I just say reincorporate weight training into my yoga practice?

Yup, that’s right. I don’t look at weight lifting as something outside of my yoga practice, I look at it as part of it.

Many yogis see weight lifting as something that takes away from their practice. On the flip-side, many weight-lifters think yoga is “only for women”.

They do not need to be separate- die hard yogis can be avid weightlifters and muscle bound weight-lifters can be peaceful warriors too.

5×5 training has dramatically improved my yoga practice over the past five years. I am able to achieve yoga poses that people half my size cannot- this is because I lift weights.

Learning to utilize 5×5 training has enhanced my range of motion, balance, power, mood and body composition.

Lifting heavy and practicing yoga (together) has made me stronger and more flexible than I’ve ever been, even in my 30s.

5×5 training can make your legs so strong that Warrior 2 pose becomes quite simple and arm balances become resting poses. I’ve seen it dramatically improve the balance and strength of my clients in poses like Tree, Warrior 3 and Plank. The power that 5×5 training creates directly translates into better, more balanced and stronger poses, it’s actually quite impressive to see.

Heavy weight training for advanced yogis is also great because it challenges them beyond what they are used to. After a while, yoga poses become much easier. The advanced practitioner can begin to forget how physically challenging yoga can be.

Adding 5×5 will tire them, especially on the day directly following training. As a result, the challenge of holding even a beginner pose such as Warrior 1 gets drastically turned up, requiring deeper breath work and focus to complete the pose.

I was reminded of this in class today- I was the first one to come out of a pose in a class of intermediate students. My legs were trembling, it was a humbling and my ego was bruised- all great benefits of a strong yoga practice, which in essence, I received from lifting weights.

Lifting heavy and practicing yoga together has the ability to create the ultimate body and mind- strong, steady, flexible, powerful, balanced and tension free.

The combination is not only effective but highly efficient, requiring only 2-3 days a week in the gym and 2-3 days a week of yoga practice. It also creates the wonderful bi-product of an external body that is long, lean and defined.

After switching your exercise and wellness plan to include LHDY, your biggest problem will become explaining to others that yes, “I do lift and practice yoga bro.” You’ll have to explain that this is why you look so different on the inside and out.


All credit for this article goes to Nick Palladino

The original article can be found here

2017-02-16T11:47:19+00:00 February 16th, 2017|Training|0 Comments

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