Friday, December 10, 2010

Just What Your Workout is Missing?

I have spent the better half of the past decade attempting to get back into shape…and so far I have done an OK job but I am not nearly at the point in which I want to be. My laisez-fair attitude about getting back into shape and my hopes of losing a few pounds and tightening your love handles have done just that; gone by the waist side.

But I am trying not let the winter cold keep me bundled up inside. Every time I hit the gym, I try and think back to how excited I am when I first begin a workout routine or the first time you walked into the fitness center; membership in hand, with the determination to get back into shape. I try and use this nostalgia as motivation.

For men, gym visits typically comprise of lifting the most weight that we possible can while women tend to focus more on calorie-fighting workout with cardio. The two groups definitely have the correct idea; fostering an active lifestyle from sedentary one in order to stave off such things like heart disease and obesity. Both strength training and cardiovascular training are essential to creating a well rounded workout routine, but there is a third component which many forget. And that is the importance of stretching. By incorporating this component, you will revitalize your workout and begin to see the results which you wanted to see in the beginning of the year.

An easy and effective way to incorporate stretching into your weekly workout routine is take up the ancient practice of yoga. In recent years, yoga has increased in popularity and though many see it as a fad, this ancient practice of stretching, breathing and mediation has been around for centuries. One misconception pertaining to yoga is that is only for women. Though yoga incorporates emphasis on the core and does not include large bursts of energy and motion which is typical of a most men's workouts, its benefits greatly outweigh its mild persona. By adding the following basic yoga moves before or after your workout, your muscles will be more susceptible for healing, in turn creating faster muscle growth.

Standing Thigh Stretch

Standing, place feet directly under your shoulders, squaring your stance. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, slowly reach for your toes, keeping your legs as straight as possible.Lunge Your right leg should be in front of you with your left leg to the back of you. Place your right hand just next to your right foot, palms facing down, shifting the weight of your body so that you feel the stretch in your left hip. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths and then repeat for the other side of your body.


Taking a deep breath, move your left leg to meet your right (at this point, your right leg should be behind you). At the same time, both your hands should be supporting your weight in a push up position. Hold this position for 5 to 8 deep breaths.

Upward Dog

Slowly lower your upper body to about one inch off the ground or mat. Keeping your lower body as close to the ground as possible, straighten your arms, lifting your upper body to a 90 degree angle (or as close to it as possible). Take 5 to 8 deep breaths looking skyward. Repeat number of breaths rotating your gaze over your right shoulder, than over you left shoulder.

Repeat the previous stretches in reverse order until return to the beginning standing position.Of course this is not the end all and be all of yoga. There are varied positions, poses and techniques which will greatly enhance your performance and stamina. But for beginners like me, by incorporating these few stretching exercise, you will be buying a yoga mat in no time.

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