Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weightlifting vs Yoga

My husband has become a weight lifter. He's left yoga in his free weight dust and has become an addict of lifting and putting down heavy things three insanely early mornings a week. It has been interesting to observe his Journey into squatting and dead-lifting while letting go of my own reticence of such things as protein powder and fear that he'll turn into an intense, puffed out jock (silly me, I should have known better).

Interestingly, there have been some surprises along the way over the past year of yoga abandonment. Those rare times he's practiced with us during friend yoga his added strength from weightlifting doesn't seem to help him. His downward dogs, warriors and especially his balance postures remain unchanged- wobbly and filled with his grumblings of how difficult it is.

(this is his source of inspiration and joy three mornings a week. He wanted me to point out that he was doing "rows" with the weights at the last platform near "ENTHUSIASM" and proceeded to demonstrate what that was with a broomstick in an excited and bright eyed face...)

During these yoga classes, while he's sweating and swearing profusely, I'm surprised at how I'm breezing through barely breaking a sweat. We've spent some time chatting about why this might be and what yoga has given him with the result of a quick interview! (He refused to be recorded, so I've tried to make this sound as much like our conversation as possible).

1. Why did you choose weightlifting over yoga?
Actually, weightlifting was kinda an accident. I started running that summer and I joined the gym so I could keep running in the winter cuz it gets cold and I'm a wuss. But then I discovered that running on the  treadmill was boring, figured I had a gym membership so I should just switch to lifting weights.

(But, what is it giving you that yoga isn't?)
Structure. Lifting weights gives me more structure than yoga. I really like that it provides a clear progression, you know exactly where you are, you can quantify in measurable amounts how much you've improved since last time.

(Is it more like video gaming? Like you're building up measurable goals and "points"?)
Exactly, with weightlifting I increase my vital stats, I'm increasing strength and charisma at the same time, I'm going to school so I have intelligence... kinda missing dexterity, already have wisdom... I have a pretty sweet D&D character going on actually.

(Dungeons and Dragons???)
Those are the core stats in all role playing games! Weightlifting is the closest thing levelling up in real life.

Every week I can set personal achievable goals and every week I can do better than before. How's that for motivation? My first week I started out with 85lbs, 5 sets of 5. Six weeks later- tomorrow- I'm lifting 170lbs 5x5- going up in five pound increments.

2. How has yoga helped your gym practice?
I know one way that yoga has definitely helped my gym practice- balance and core strength, I guess they're tied together.

(Remember you told me about breathing?)
Oh and definitely breathing! It's not that I'm necessarily using yogic breathing, it's just that I'm aware of my breathing. In fact, I think yoga has made me more aware of my entire body.

I listen to my body, I don't push myself too hard. I'm very aware of any little twinges or anything.

I find yoga harder because of the endurance aspect. Everything I do I'm not holding anything long, because I might burst (I type that, read it out loud and he says:) NO, it's like bursts of energy! It's kinda like the opposite of yoga as far as that goes.

(How so?)

Well, I mean, you have a couple hundred pounds on your back and you go (demonstrates a weird awkward looking squat-chair pose combo while he's talking) you go down and then you go back up. But with yoga you go halfway down and then you just stay there. And you're like wow- my legs are burning, I wish I could stand up. But you can't because your wife is beside you and she's like- no problem.

3. So when are going to start practicing yoga again with me? (happy grin directed to him)
Well. (he laughs). During the school year I'm fairly busy while you're doing yoga (I frown while I type), but once we start doing yoga on the weekends again, like Yoga in the Park, yeah I'll definitely do yoga then. (Happy smile again, all is well).

Thank you Andrew!

Thoughts on yoga vs weightlifting?

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  1. I do both! i find actively doing both yoga and weight training really is the best balance. i get really tight and sore after a training session, and yoga feels soooo good to stretch it out (although sometimes when it feels like the teacher is doing a million lunges, warriors and powerful poses i regret it a little bit then, haha!). before i got into yoga i was weights only but i enjoy adding in the mental & meditation aspects in my yoga practice.

  2. I'm a yogi and a yoga teacher who does both. I was a gym rat first. Yoga and weight lifting are complimentary. The upper body strength women so desperately seek to move safely through high plank, low plank, up dog to down dog is very easily acquired at the gym. Jumping back to low plank is a breeze for experienced gym rats who are novice yogis.

    Yoga provides flexibility that most weight lifters would never have or lose. Stretching is often thought to cut into the weight time and is barely practiced. In fact the typical practice of weight lifting includes taking recovery breaks between sets this is the best time to get into a yoga posture to help the muscle recover and stay long; lifting weights shortens muscle by it's nature.

    Ladies don't be afraid that you will bulk up, it's HIGHLY, highly, highly, unlikely unless weight train heavy for many hours a day or unless you are a genetic phenom. Give weights a try, you just might get the body you were expecting and in turn breeze through a vinyasa.

    I love yoga, it healed me after a gym injury and it improves my life in many other ways. But, yoga is not going to give the life long athlete everything they need. Yes, I said it but with love.

  3. I used to only weight train, then I had a couple of injuries. Then I only did yoga....much more open, flexible joints, felt great. But lost alot of muscle definition. So, I think a balance is key. Right now, I`m not getting in much of either :(

    Interestingly, because I am strong (thank you genetics and weight training), I can sometimes power through poses that aren`t accessible to those without considerable strength. But powering through isn`t really best, is it?!

    In an ideal world, I'd have tons of time to do both, and to throw in a lot of running too.

  4. I do both but lately have been skewing a lot more toward weights. And I did find one weight exercise that has helped a lot with balance poses in yoga. It's a one-legged deadlift, and your husband probably knows what that is. Since I started doing that (difficult) exercise, I find my balance, which has always been a bit shaky, has improved immensely and much more than it ever did from doing balance poses. However, I find that doing yoga a couple of times a week helps with flexiibity and is also relaxing.

  5. This is my favorite part: "But with yoga you go halfway down and then you just stay there. And you're like wow- my legs are burning, I wish I could stand up. But you can't because your wife is beside you and she's like- no problem."

    Also the D&D reference.

    You guys are too fun!

  6. I like lifting weights. I feel that I get more out of it from a fitness point of view (of course, yoga is not a fitness program) and I do mostly gentle yoga because power yoga along with weight lifting would be too hard on my body. I miss living near a gym where I could take weight lifting to the next level (one can only have so many weights at home). I'd love to try CrossFit.

  7. I actually do both lifting and yoga. There is no contradiction between the two after all. I run a little home based business, and while my two little ones are at school, I have plenty of time to do some yoga during a break from time to time. Sometimes some light toning in the evening on our weight machine in the basement.

  8. haha, the stats actually reminded me of baseball :)

    i've added a few weights and i like the diversity of it along with kickboxing, yoga, elliptical, cycling to work, and that old fashioned thing, walking :)

  9. i just came across your blog and love the topic of this post- i have been practicing yoga for 15 years and teaching for almost 10. last year the yoga wasn't cutting it, as i'm turning 40 this year.. so i started combining my weights into a vinyasa flow sequence and noticed a HUGE difference in my body in only 3 weeks. i loved it so much i made a dvd that's selling like crazy- it's called Xen Strength Yoga and you can check it out here:
    i also have a ton of videos on my website that are free and show how to incorporate weights into a yoga program. ENJOY!
    Danielle Diamond, Creator Xen Strength Yoga

  10. I think the two can be complementary to each other. With weightlifting you're obviously building more strength but sometimes it can be at the cost of flexibility. If you can combine that with a simple yoga routine (even just doing sun a and sun b) you can add a lot of flexibility, core and balance work. Balance work also helps to develop your stabilizing muscles which can be harder to work when weightlifting.


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