7 reasons why I do weights and how it complements my yoga routine…

I’ve been loving the feel-good factor of weight training.  I also notice a pre-workout adrenaline that comes beforehand, which motivates me even more.  I’ve been doing weight training at home for nearly 2 months now (yes, still relatively new.)  Here are 7 reasons why I’m hooked.  These are based on my own personal experience and a bit of research:

  1. Bone health: Research has shown that progressive weight training has a positive impact on bone density.  Resistance training increases bone density and therefore can decrease the chances of developing osteoporosis later on in life.  “Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show it can even build bone. This is tremendously useful to help offset age-related declines in bone mass. Activities that put stress on bones can nudge bone-forming cells into action.”  (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018.)
  2. Raises BMR:  It is well documented and backed by studies that the more muscles you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, so the more calories you’ll burn over the course of the day.  Weight training enables a build up, to a larger degree, of lean muscle mass, which then basically serves as a calorie-burning powerhouse in the body.
  3. Fun and diverse exercise: There are practically endless exercises I can do; so I’ll never get bored.
  4. Builds strength & balance: Every time I work out with weights, I become stronger and so next time I’ll be able to lift more which is both incredibly satisfying and motivating. Strength also builds balance, and so practicing some form of strength will help to improve balance.
  5. Has an element of cardio: Weight lifting can be considered an anaerobic exercise, i.e short, intense activity that has you working to the max, and can’t be sustained for long. Even more so with little rest in between, keeping the heart rate elevated.  However, you must make sure you’re at a sufficient fitness level to be able to handle cardio weight training.  Just remember, aerobic cardio training (running, swimming, cycling…) has a bigger positive influence on cardiovascular health, since your heart and lungs work harder for longer when you do it.  So then why not incorporate both?  Note: If your primary concern is shedding fat, anaerobic exercise is the way to go.
  6. Awesome couple-workout: I can get my fit on with my partner – we get to spend time together while doubling up on a healthy activity that we both enjoy and encourage each other to do.  Exercising together provides an opportunity to create such connection, benefiting both your health and your relationship.
  7. Confidence boost: When you start out you’ll feel as weak as a kitten. Don’t worry, everyone is.  Then you set yourself a goal and step by step, every day, gradually improving until, all of a sudden, you’re doing things that a few months ago seemed impossible.  That gives a massive boost in confidence.

Ladies, remember also that we do not have high enough testosterone levels naturally to develop the same amount of musculature as males.  Therefore, you won’t ‘bulk-up’, as is often thought to be the case.

How weight training complements my yoga routine

Weight training 4 times per week has been a great complement to my daily yoga routine.  Bear in mind that yoga also promotes strength training, as when you do yoga poses, you’re putting your body in positions and orientations that you ultimately have to support using your muscles.  So, you are essentially lifting weights!  However, with yoga, you are limited to your own body weight, thus it might not be enough if your purpose is to build muscle.

Yoga asana practice can reduce your risk of injury and condition your body to perform better at things you have to do every day: walk, sit, twist, bend, and lift groceries.  Yoga moves your body in the ways it was designed to move to help ensure that it keeps functioning properly.  For example, when doing yoga you use both large and small muscles and move in many directions (twisting, arching, etc.), not just back and forth on a one-dimensional plane, as in the forward-back motion of a bicep curl.   Additionally, yoga tones muscles all over your body, in balance with each other.  Weight training exercises typically isolate and flex one muscle or muscle group at a time.  What’s more, yoga increases muscle endurance because you typically hold any given pose for a period of time and repeat it several times during a yoga workout.  So combining both makes a lot of sense to me.

My conclusion: Many studies have shown that the more variety in your workout routine, the faster you’ll see results.  And the more variety, the more fun!  Yoga is always going to be a part of my life and is great at building natural strength, for someone looking to develop muscle and shift excess fat, weight training is worth adding to your exercise routine.  And, in my case, lifting weights has only improved my yoga poses.

I’ve tried lots of physical activities, but none of them can match the way I feel calm and peaceful after a yoga workout.  The primary reason I do yoga is because of the way it nourishes BOTH the body and the mind and helps me listen to that quiet voice inside my head.  No other form of activity will replace this, however, weight training has now proven to complement it very well on many levels.   Not only do I feel physically  and mentally stronger and more energised, my physique is quickly becoming a lot more defined, and I love the post-workout high.  Win, win!

Tips and considerations:

Each person has a different body type, physical condition, goal, recovery time, time constraints, etc. What worked for me may not work for you.  And maybe a combination of the two isn’t for you after all. Gradually implement the other into your routine and see how your body reacts to it.

Please, please always warm up, stretch and don’t start off too heavy.

Using improper form and technique during resistance training won’t yield any beneficial results – and may even lead to an injury.  Work on your form and go slow.

Listen to your body. You will most likely feel sore after lifting weights (I rarely do, perhaps that’s down to the yoga),  don’t ever let that be a reason to stop working out. However, if you’re injured, don’t work through the pain.

For a total body workout, it is generally recommended to lift weights for 20 minutes to 30 minutes three days a week, giving your muscles time to recover between workouts.  Another important tip I learnt recently: Working the same body parts on consecutive days and over and over can lead to overuse injuries… Always vary your workout.

Do your own research, I’ve done mine but I am no expert in this field.   Consult an expert if you are unsure and new to this.

Finally, get your yoga on as well!  The benefits are endless and yoga is for everyone.

Stay strong!

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