A Beginner’s Guide To Balancing Gym And Yoga

Lifting is good for you. It has proven benefits for bone density, particularly for the aged, and it also helps retain muscle mass and maintains your hormonal homeostasis. Yoga, in not dissimilar ways, regulates the healthy functioning of organs while also being immeasurably beneficial for posture and the health of your soft tissues (tendons, ligaments and muscles).

Looking after yourself is one of the soundest investments you will make in your life. The thing is, we all have finite energy. So, how is it possible to program both yoga and lifting into your weekly routine, without completely burning yourself out? This is what I will try and tackle.

Yoga is one of the most effective ways of working the core.

Most of us are working professionals who are not involved in the fitness industry, which means we won’t be able to invest multiple workout sessions a day as we have jobs to go to, a family to look after, etc.  Keeping this in mind, the minimum amount of exercise you can afford to undertake for a program to be effective is roughly three sessions a week. Two of these sessions will be at the gym, where session A will focus on lifting and body-weight exercises while session B will focus on cardio and endurance. And one will be on your yoga mat.

Gym Session A:

This will focus on full-body calisthenic movements, which work your major muscle groups. The coordination and balance required for calisthenic movements will cross over well into your yoga session as well as making them work complementarily for you.

  1. You will start with a 10 minute run on the treadmill to warm up. The point here is not to break your 3k record so you will not be maxing out. Maintain a brisk jog and slow down whenever you need to catch a breath.

Rest for two minutes.

  1. Next, we jump into a superset of pull-ups and parallel bar dips. This will stimulate your upper body, pulling and pushing muscles along the vertical plane. We will do two sets aiming to complete five reps of each exercise.

Rest for two minutes.

  1. We now move to another superset of dive bomber pushups and T-bar rows. The angle of these pushups will place significantly more emphasis on your shoulders. You may be wondering why standard pushups, the staple of many a routine have been left out. This is because of all the chaturangas we will be doing in our yoga session, which adequately stimulates our chest muscles.

Rest two minutes.

  1. Box jumps are invaluable at developing explosive lower body power. They stimulate our largest muscle groups dynamically and also develop our cardiovascular recovery. We will aim for one set of ten, to begin with. Personally, I have found these to be one of the hardest to recover from as I tend to go hard in the warmup run. Also, be mindful that we have loads of squat and lunge like movements in yoga and the endurance run at the end of the week will tax your lower body very differently, so it is important not to burn out.

Rest for a minute

  1. We will now move to a relatively easy exercise which will allow you to catch your breath after all this explosive work. Weighted calf raises. One set of twenty is what we will aim for initially.

Rest for a minute

  1. It is important to strengthen your hamstrings to balance out all the quad work we do. So we now take up Romanian deadlifts or straight-legged deadlifts as they are sometimes called. One set of ten to twelve repetitions, to begin with, will do fine.

Rest for two minutes

  1. All you gym rats will be happy to know that we now finally work our vanity muscles, the biceps and the triceps. A superset of curls and extensions aiming for ten repetitions each will be good.

Rest for a minute

  1. We finish off our lifting session with some lateral lunges, or Cossack squats as they are sometimes known. These help strengthen our legs and knees in planes apart from just up and down which other exercises are usually limited to.

You may notice that we have excluded ab-work, this is because we will be working the core on the yoga day as well as, as a finisher on the endurance run day.

Rest at least a day after this workout.

For the yoga session, which I suggest could be done on Wednesday (saying you began on Monday and took Tuesday off for rest)—I recommend a YouTube channel I follow, ‘Yoga with Tim’. He has uploaded excellent thirty-day challenges, which I cannot recommend enough. They are gentle and instructive, and beginners will find themselves well at home though challenged. Another channel I occasionally follow is Alo Yoga.

These sessions are great to practice after a day of compound lifting as they really stretch out and tighten the muscles and are an invaluable remedy to all the sitting we do at desk jobs. I also find yoga to be one of the most effective ways of working the core.

Rest a day after your yoga session. This should give you adequate time to recover from your physical exertions.

The last day of your workout routine for the week will be an endurance session. This can be undertaken in the gym, which may provide you with a rowing machine which helps or also outside in-case you fancy the outdoors.

Begin with a slow run, aiming for at least half an hour. Modulate your pace if required, keep it gentle. This is a long run, so you don’t want to exhaust yourself early. Anywhere between 3 to 5 kilometres is ideal (to begin). Give yourself at least a five-minute window of rest after this.

Next, we do hanging leg raises. These can be done either with knees tucked or with the legs extended. The latter being harder, requiring significant strength in your hip flexors. Raise your knees straight up for the first five to eight repetitions, and then across your body, to the side for the next five to six repetitions.

Rest for at least a minute.

Glute ham raises are an excellent supplement to hanging leg raises. They will consolidate your lower back as well as your glutes and hamstrings. Aim for at least fifteen repetitions, aiming for twenty.

Rest for at least two minutes and stretch out in upwards facing dog and touch your toes while sitting on the ground, extending your legs. Better yet grab hold of your feet as this helps extend the lower back, down a little further.

We now head for the row. This is hard at the end of your week. Take a timed 500-meter race, to begin with. Power through your hips and pull with your back. Don’t make this into a seated arm-curl. As you get stronger, you can gradually add distance.

Congratulations! If you have made it this far, you know what you need to do. I hope this helps you unlock your athletic potential, or even feature as a handy component of your lifestyle which will keep you in shape. Good luck. Godspeed.

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Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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