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yoga for core strength

Best Yoga Poses For Core Strength

Core strength is a common element in most athletic endeavours. It is also an area everyone should consider for overall good health as well. While your core is often engaged in many workout routines, yoga poses offer a means to target your core muscles, to work and develop them.

Before you dismiss yoga as a performance tool, consider that regular yoga practice can reduce your risk of injury and condition your body to perform better in other fitness areas. Yoga is a form of functional fitness, and its motions use both large and small muscles and move in many directions (twisting, arcing, etc.), in contrast to limited bi-directional motions along the traditional sagittal, frontal, or transverse planes.

What is Your Core

Often, the core is confused with the abdominal muscles. Many think, that’s it. While the abdominal muscles are part of the core muscle group, to understand “core strength” you need to understand the core muscles. When we refer to core muscles, we mean major muscles that include the pelvic floor muscles, transverses abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and trapezius.

If you want to develop all-around core strength, you need to work this entire group, not just parts. This is why so much has been written on why abdominal work alone is not enough for improving core strength. Moreover, if you look at the list of muscles, you can see why a plank is so effective at hitting many of them.

Best Yoga Poses for Core Strength

Our list of poses is intended to work your all-around core. You can put them all together and form an entire core training session, or add 1-2 poses into your regular routine to help provide all-around training depth and variety.

  • Plank Pose
  • Side Plank Pose
  • Upward Plank Pose
  • Bird Dog Crunches
  • Half-Bow Half-Locust Pose
  • Locust Y Jumping Jacks
  • Twisting Boat
  • Listing Boat
  • Figure-4 Bridge

If you find that you enjoy yoga in your performance training, you can check out our other article on simple yoga poses. And if you really want to take the plunge, but are not sure where to start, we recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene – she offers a phenomenal online video selection through her YouTube channel. For the guys, if you want something more focused, check out Breathe and Flow’s yoga for men. Between these sites, you can easily find a yoga session suited to your ability – and help you add to your own list of the best yoga poses for core strength.

-Train Hard!

Maintain proper rest

Proper Rest for Recovery and Growth

With all the effort into your workout and diet, did you realize that failing to add the proper amount of rest and recovery into your efforts can undermine and work against you?

Sleep is an important part of your body’s repair and maintenance efforts. For athletes, sleep is the time where the concentration of growth hormone in the body is at its highest. These hormones are the building blocks to your muscle recovery and growth.

How important is that good night’s sleep to your recovery?

A 2018 study performed by Uppsala University in Sweden took fat and muscle samples from 15 healthy young men on two separate mornings – one after a good night’s sleep and the other after they lay awake all night. After the sleepless night, the participants’ muscles showed signs of protein breakdown. Their fat tissue, in contrast, had elevated levels of proteins and metabolites that are involved in promoting fat storage.

Limited and insufficient sleep can have even more effects on your body than muscle health. If you are one who puts off getting adequate rest, here are other things you might encounter:

  • Memory issues
  • Impaired concentration
  • Mood changes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Risk of diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Risk of heart disease
  • Poor balance
  • Reduced sex drive

Now before you think that another shot of an energy drink solves all this…

Stimulants (caffeine, energy drinks, etc) aren’t enough to override your body’s need for sleep. In fact, these can make sleep deprivation worse by making it harder to fall asleep at night. Which, you guessed it… may make you end up in a cycle of insufficient sleep.

So what are the signs this may be an issue? One sleepless night, or one tired day is something we all experience. It is not the one time or rare occurrence that we are talking about. What you should watch out for are signs of:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues

And remember what you can tolerate as part of your routine, and how much sleep you need, is not a constant throughout your life. Just because you could push your limits in your 20’s does not mean those are your same limits later in life. As your body changes over time, so does your metabolism and other physiological aspects that will impact how much sleep you require to stay healthy, and see the benefits or your training efforts.

If you are in need of a few basic tips to manage your rest cycles, try these:

  1. Stick to a regular time for bed, it will keep your body on a schedule
  2. Do not over-sleep on the weekends, or off days, as this too will impact your body’s ability to manage its rests cycles
  3. Be careful with naps; they are fine, but too many, too long, or at the wrong time, and you can mess up your body’s sleep cycle
  4. During the day, get as much exposure to light as possible; this not only helps the body develop vitamin D, but also helps tell it to be awake
  5. At night, limit the amount of exposure to bright lights – like television, and computer screens – this will help ensure your body knows it is time to shut down
  6. When it is time to sleep, keep the room dark
  7. Try to avoid physical activities such as exercise within three hours of your expected bed time – exercise activates your metabolism, which in turn makes it hard to sleep
  8. If you do want to add an activity to help you rest, there are simple yoga techniques that you may find beneficial,
  9. And, limit caffeine and alcohol at night; one clearly does not work well with trying to rest, and while the other might make you relax, it can interfere with your sleep cycle once you are asleep

If you are looking for more advise and understanding on the importance of sleep and recovery, we recommend you try these resources by Sleep Help:

As we always end our sections with Train Hard, in this case…

– Rest Hard!

Simple Yoga to Improve Your Fitness

You lift, run, and do cross-fit – but what about yoga? Not for me, you say? Well have you considered that incorporating yoga into your fitness routine has the following benefits:

  1. Improves flexibility
  2. Builds muscle strength
  3. Improves your posture
  4. Prevents cartilage and joint break down
  5. Protects your spine
  6. Improves bone health
  7. Increases blood flow
  8. Drains your lymphs and boosts your immunity
  9. Increases your heart rate
  10. Lowers your blood pressure

Interested? Good.

What Is Yoga?

First, yoga is not stretching. Most yoga postures are a series of focused isometric contractions coupled with specific breathing patterns that yield gains in flexibility, mobility, and strength.

Anyone can start yoga, and if already training it can greatly benefit your overall fitness results. Even more, you do not need to dedicate all your fitness time to yoga  to get the benefits. You can incorporate yoga into your routine any day, and even on rest days, using dozens of variations and preparatory poses that can meet you where you are at, regardless of age, injury, or athletic goal.

A Routine Anyone Can Follow

You can bring yoga into your routine anytime. However, in order to utilize yoga postures for the purpose of gaining strength and increasing performance, practice them after your training session so that your body has at least 24 hours to recover from the poses. While restorative, yoga is still a very intense physical practice and your body, especially your nervous system, needs time to recover from it.

Recommended Routine For Strength Training

After your workout, or on rest days (if resting at least two days), find a good spot with room to perform the asanas (poses), and hold each for 30 seconds. Rest, and repeat for a total of five cycles. Remember to keep your breathing steady throughout the poses.
  1. ChairChair yoga Pose
  2. Warrior IIWarrior II posture
  3. Warrior III – this is especially good to increase balance and strengthen legsYoga Pose Warrior 3
  4. Extended triangle – uses blocks as needed – strengthen legs, abs, especially lateralsYoga Extended Triangle Pose
  5. Extended side angle – uses blocks as needed – strengthen legs, abs, especially lateralsExtended Side Angle Pose
  6. Plank – whatever variation works – abs, arms and shouldersDolphin Plank yoga pose
  7. Downward dog – lower back, arms and shouldersYoga pose downward-facing dog
  8. Sphinx – lower back and counteracts the downward dogSphinx yoga pose

As with all fitness routes, you might need to invest in some basic equipment to help out such as yoga mats, blocks, or straps.

 

CoreTek Fitness always stresses: consider your medical condition and check with a physician if you are concerned about the impact of any fitness program.
Try this basic routine, or go online and build your own. There are plenty of qualified sources you can study to create a yoga program that fits your needs. The goal is to improve your fitness, and that means doing what is best for you. Yoga, if properly incorporated, is one of many ways to achieve your goals.
-Train hard!
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