Should I do yoga or something else?
My Olympic lifting coach suggested I do some yoga on my rest days to increase my flexibility. My flexibility isn't terrible, but it could use some work, especially in my ankles and calves.
So far I've just been doing very light, twenty-minute yoga routines from a book. My goal is not to become a master, just limber up a bit. However, searches on this board have revealed people are not too crazy about yoga here. Is there a program you'd suggest instead?
I already do dynamic movements and dynamic stretching pre-workout, and some, but not much, static stretching afterwards. On days when I'm feeling really beat up I add in some myofascial release with a foam roller my gym has lying around.
(Also, if you could be specific about routines that would be great. Without structure I'll either do barely anything or go overboard and do everything and then get sick of spending hours on stretching or whatever and end up doing nothing again.)
Are you looking for a home program or classes at a studio?
I personally like Anusara, Bikram, and Iyengar.
With the Bikram stuff, whether or not you do it in a 100+ degree room, if you go to a couple of classes to familiarize yourself with it, then you can get an audio CD to follow along at home. Bikram's basic class never changes, so that may suit you fine. I like a little more variety, but I can handle it 1-2 time a week. I found the CDs for $10 on Craigslist.
Yoga for Regular Guys/Gals (YRG) has a pretty good reputation for giving the benefits of yoga without all the woo-woo that some people don't like.
I can't comment on the yoga thing other than what has already been said. I've never done it except for a DVD and didn't particularly like it.
I'd like to add that using the foam roller should be just a part of your routine like the dynamic movements and stuff are for you pre-workout. Or buy one at home and devote 10-20 minutes to it a few times a week.
If I'm doing it at the gym I'll set my interval timer to go off every 20 seconds, so that way I know when to switch, if I'm at home I'll just do it as I'm watching TV focusing on hot spots. I like to do it from low to high just so I know I don't miss any places.
At the gym the following routine takes ~10 minutes:
Foam roller 15-20 seconds per part focusing on hot spots:
quads, IT bands, adductors, hip flexors, thoracic extension (1-5 reps per segment), chest, lats
Teniss ball progressing to a lacrosse ball: 15-20 seconds per part
arch rolls, calves, glutes, infraspinatus,
I guess I would preferably do it at home. My gym (which doubles as a globo gym) offers yoga classes, they don't specify the style, but I wasn't planning on going to them on a regular basis.
I guess I should also mention that it would be difficult to do it from an instructional DVD because I don't own a television, and my computer area is too crowded to follow along while watching. Though I could certainly watch and then do the movement somewhere else.
If you know that ankles and calves are the problem, I personally would just spend some time hitting them specifically as opposed to trying to fit yoga into your schedule. For me, trying to fit one more thing in my already cramped schedule is near to impossible.
I try to stretch my ankles and calves every other hour during the workday. So that's roughly five 2-3 minute stretch sessions during the workday.
Ankle circles, straight leg calves stretching, bent leg calves stretching, getting into your rock bottom squat position and push yourself deep in the hole stretching the hips and while your down there push down on the tops of your knees to hit the ankles again. I don't necessarily hit all of these each session.
You don't need to spend a lot of time at each session if you're doing frequently and after 2-3 weeks you'll notice a huge improvement in your flexibility.
I am a recent convert to yoga. The crazier extremes don't interest me, but it is helping to really balance things out after a year of right side, low back & hip issues. I'd take a couple of classes to get the idea and go from there. My teacher does private sessions where she will work with you to design an at-home routine based on where you are & where you need to be. Obviously the value depends on the teacher...
TV is highly over rated. Haven't owned one in 25 years.
I really like doing yoga, or stretches of all kinds, especially on my rest days, for a few reasons.
1. You can get acquainted with your body in a different way, more aware of what's tight, what's achy, what's balanced or imbalanced. This will help you programming the rest of your training and also being aware of those tender places.
2. Flexibility becomes more and more important as you age. (Since I'm in my fifties, I've had to pay more attention to this!) You can identify "old" (unconditioned, old) people because they walk weak but also because they walk stiff. A youthful body is strong AND flexible.
3. It helps develop your athletic focus, promotes relaxation, and really helps with alignment and posture.
There are other benefits, I'm sure, but these are the ones that leap out at me. I like taking classes, myself, but over the years I've learned enough to do the basics myself. Before my surgery, I did the sun salutation, a warrior pose or two, and some spinal twists every day. I'm looking forward to getting back to that little by little as I heal.
Warrior poses, downward-facing dog, triangle poses, seated toe-touches, are all good ones to try for calves and ankles.
I personally need to have someone "making" me stretch, telling me what to do (or I don't stretch at all, I find it tedious and boring to do completely alone).
To fill that need, I have found yoga classes in my area that cost anywhere from $4-7 per class and attend those 1-2 times a week.
I'm doing the Bikram series at home with the audio CDs (there is also a book that explains the poses in more detail, plus a one-page quick reference guide to the poses here) 1 or 2 times a week. I shoot for 3 total yoga sessions a week, I usually get a minimum of 2 in for sure.
If you have stuff that needs specific work (ie. calves), make it a part of your warm-up.
If you try yoga, make sure you give several different styles and teachers a chance.
You could also try something like capoeira. I've started doing it recently and it's an awesome addition to my normal crossfit/strength/ring work - personally I find it a much more engaging, fun way to work on coordination and flexibility than doing yoga. As active recovery goes I don't see how you could do much better than capoeira.
Bikram is pretty fun though.
It seems like you're getting answers to questions you didn't ask.
Are you using this because you only want to get better at OLY lifting? Are you doing it for general flexibility and wellness? What does your coach suggest and how often? You'll get better advice if you furnish a little more information.
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