Benefits of Yoga for Muscleheads

by admin on March 29, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Yoga for Bodybuilders republished with permission.

Yes, yoga is an ancient discipline that comes from India, etc etc etc. It’s been primarily associated with New Age granola crunching and men in suspiciously tight pastel colored pants. But NFL football players are using yoga too. And there’s a very good reason for it.

Modern science has weighed in on yoga, and it has a lot to say about the importance of stretching a muscle to build it.

Sounds crazy, right? We all know generating power is about contracting and tensing a muscle harder, not stretching and relaxing it…. right?

Yes, that’s true when you’re under the bar lifting heavy iron. But there’s more to the story.

“Stretching” INCREASES your strength over the long haul by helping to release the antagonist muscles. They’re the ones that work against the movement you’re trying to perform. If your antagonists are tight – in a constantly contracted state – they’ll reduce the strength of your agonist muscle. The one that’s supposed to be working.

That’s why guys who train too much bench have such shitty pull ups. Their chest is actually fighting against their lats during the movement.

Once you understand this relationship, you can use it in a number of ways. Clenching the glutes really hard, for example, shuts down it’s opposite, the hip flexor. So if you want a great stretch, get into a lunge and squeeze that cheek as hard as you can. You’ll be able to go much deeper into the hip flexor than you will by holding a passive lunge.

As you can see, this relationship is helpful if you’re using it on purpose. But the same thing happens to these opposing tissues if your muscles are in a constantly tightened state. That’s why tight hip flexors rob your deadlifts of strength—they shut down your glutes and keep them from firing at full strength. Want to add some pounds to your deads?  Release chronically tight hip flexors and your glutes will fire harder.

Flexibility and mobility training balances your posture by “evening out” the way your brain communicates with your muscles, so they’re all receiving the “right” signal. That way, they aren’t competing against each other when you lift.  And your antagonist muscles aren’t robbing you of strength.

But that’s not all…

Proper flexibility and mobility training also helps you reclaim control over the extreme ranges of motion – and THAT opens new doors to growth. Why? Because your body loves to stay in its comfort zone. It tricks you into using the mid-range of motion, where your muscles are strongest. Sure, that’s more efficient from the body’s point of view. But every bodybuilder knows you’ve gotta take a muscle outside of it’s comfort zones if you want to spark new adaptation.

It’s by working in the extreme ranges – where the muscle is fully stretched and fully contracted – that you generate the most growth.

The problem is, as you tighten up your nervous system starts “forgetting” how to access and control those extreme ranges.  You even risk injury when trying to use them. Yoga for Bodybuilders will give you safe access to those ranges again, and when you start moving a weight from the fully extended to fully contracted length of a muscle, you’ll grow bigger and faster with less time in the gym.

If you’re still not convinced click here so I can share a couple more reasons to add “yoga” to your training!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: