How To Do Yoga and Weightlifting Supersets
For some yogis, this post may offend, or at least seem like a joke of a workout. KX Pilates Dee Why delivers a high intensity, body-toning power workout in just 50 minutes that increases flexibility, balance and coordination.
However, I assure you that doing superset yoga and weightlifting workouts is no joke. It’s actually very effective and saves a great deal of time in the gym (or working out at home).
It’s not often you see people who lift weights stretching between sets or after a weight lifting workout. You might see the odd stretching of the chest muscle, but that’s about. During my pre-yoga weight lifting days, that’s about all I would do. I could push some serious weight, but was about as flexible as a 2 X 4 chunk of wood.
I discovered yoga by chance in the bookstore. I stumbled upon Beryl Birch’s “Power Yoga” book. I was interested because the yoga routine was extremely physical. I did Power Yoga for a number of years while weight lifting (sometimes I’d take a break from weight lifting).
Since my Power Yoga discovery, I’ve been a big believer in the power OF yoga, regardless what type of workout is your focus. Whether you’re a marathon runner, tennis player, body builder, football tight end, yoga can help improve performance. What does yoga do for me?
Yoga helps me focus and dramatically improved my flexibility. I’m far more flexible at age 37 than I was when I was 18.
The trouble with a lot of yoga routines is…
They take way too long. Pick up any yoga book and the routines call for 30 to 60 minutes straight. I don’t mind doing yoga for 30 to 60 minutes once or twice a week, but it’s not going to happen on a weight training day.
My solution is to superset yoga with my weight lifting routines. How do I superset yoga with my lifting workouts?
It’s simple. In between sets of weights, I do a yoga pose (or two poses). Assuming I do 15 sets of weight lifting, I’ll get about 15 minutes of yoga/stretching done over the course of my weight routine. Often that’s more than enough stretching for me. Sometimes I’ll do another 10 minutes post-weights.
Sometimes I’ll do one set of weight lifting followed by a minute of yoga. Other times I’ll do two sets of weight lifting (usually a duo superset) followed by 30 to 45 seconds of a yoga pose (or two).
Planning Out Your Yoga Supersets
The key is to fit in all the major stretches through the course of a weight lifting/yoga superset routine. The major yoga moves are:
Forward bend Backward bend Inversion Twist Balance pose Standing
There’s also core, but I reserve those moves for my abdominal workouts. Examples of my weight lifting / yoga workout supersets
Once you understand the basics and get a few yoga poses under your belt, there’s pretty much an unlimited number of combinations. The following examples are for illustrative purposes only.
Example Yoga / Weight Lifting Superset
The first example is a duo superset – one set of weights followed by a mini-yoga session. The weights session is chest and back.
Exercise 1: Bench Press. Hold each yoga pose for 1 minute.
BP set 1 /Standing forward bend BP set 2 / Downward facing dog BP set 3 / Upward facing dog
Exercise 2: Incline Press
IP set 1 / Static lunch (Warrior) – do each leg for 30 seconds each IP set 2 / Upward facing dog IP set 3 / Downward facing dog
Exercise 3: Lat Pulldowns
LP set 1 / Seated forward bend with legs in a V LP set 2 / Seated twist (each side for 30 seconds) LP set 3 / Straight-leg forward bend
Exercise 4: Seated Row
SR set 1 / Cobra SR set 2 / Shoulder stand SR set 3 / Plow
End the workout with a few more winding down yoga poses such as:
Fish Lying down twists (right leg across body to the side, then do left leg across body to the right side) Baby pose Savasana
TOTAL WORKOUT TIME: 28 MINUTES
A few notes about the above yoga/weight lifting superset routine:
If you prefer doing 9 exercises (or more) per muscle, it’s no problem. Just add more yoga poses or do some poses twice.
I find doing yoga sun salutations is a fantastic warm up routine for weight lifting sessions. Therefore, you could do 3 to 6 sun salutations to kick off the above yoga / lifting superset workout.
Where Can You Learn About Yoga Poses?
The internet is loaded with yoga websites. If you’re new to yoga, start with the basic poses. All the poses I set out above are basic yoga poses suitable for beginners.
Yoga Journal is a fantastic resource for yoga poses.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Yoga and Weight Lifting Supersets?
Speed up the time you spend working out (kill 2 birds with 1 stone). Relieve boredom – I don’t like sitting on a bench between sets. Improve flexibility which is fantastic and arguably critical for any level of fitness. It’s actually an excellent way to rest between weight sets.
What About Getting Into the Yoga Zone – Does This Happen With Yoga/weight Lifting Supersets?
Yes and no. I get into weight lifting zones. I find it exhilarating and relaxing… much like what yoga delivers. I’ve always loved weight lifting. Therefore, interrupting yoga poses with weight lifting sets doesn’t have any adverse effect on the effectiveness of yoga. Instead, I gain flexibility, rest and fast workouts.
Is Weight Lifting Bad for Yoga?
I hate it when I read that people serious about yoga shouldn’t weight lift. It’s ridiculous. I admit that it may hamper flexibility a little, but not much (I find weight lifting restricts my shoulder flexibility the most). Resistance training is excellent for you… and not just for building muscles. Resistance training is good for bones, lungs and strength. It’s not just for meatheads.
Does Supersetting Weights and Yoga Result in Mediocre Workouts of Both?
Absolutely not. I find the two complement one another beautifully. With 1 minute of stretching between sets, I can get into long and effective yoga stretches while resting my muscles.
Moreover, when you lift weights, you’re going to take rests… you might as well make good use of that time.
If you’re like me and plan on saving your stretching to after your weight routine, you won’t stretch very much. But, when I incorporate stretching into my weight routine, I get 10 to 15 excellent stretches that covers my entire body and all the main yoga moves.
Doesn’t It Look Weird Doing a Downward Dog Next to the Bench Press?
Maybe 10 or 15 years ago you might get an odd look doing a downward dog or tree pose next to the bench press. But do you really care? These days there are all kinds of new workout styles that incorporate yoga, balance moves, body-weight moves, etc. I don’t think any type of move looks weird in a gym anymore.
Which brings me to the next point… where should you do your stretches? I do mine wherever I am. The gym I go to is huge. I don’t want to waste time walking to a stretching zone.
However, if the weight lifting area is confined, you might have to go to a dedicated stretching area in between sets. Give it a try.
If you’ve been meaning to establish a yoga routine or want to get more flexible, and you weight lift regularly, try doing yoga supersets with your weight lifting exercises.
As with all things fitness, you won’t notice results immediately. Developing flexibility is like building muscle or losing weight… it takes time.
Jon Dyer is a contributing author to the popular Fitness Baron blog.
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