Whether you’re an Olympic lifter, powerlifter, strongman, or crossfitter, there’s this cliquish attitude in the iron sports that what ‘we’ do is better than the other. Now it’s a lot less than it used to be, at least form what we can see on the internet. But it is still holding a lot of us back from reaching our goals. It could very well shorten training careers of some people too.
If you look back at history, some of the greatest achievers were known to overcome this kind of close-mindedness. Take Alexander the Great. At 23 years old he conquered a good chunk of the known world back in the 300s BCE. He also utilized a level of open-mindedness unheard of during his time, forging a unity between east and west.
By overcoming the shortcomings of his peers, Alexander openly accepted the resources of Eastern culture to help reach his goals of conquering. He didn’t let differences in perspective blind him to the usefulness that other cultures brought to reaching his own goal. It’s with that open-mindedness that Alexander was able to reach as far as India.
Interestingly, when Alexander reached India he saw naked Indian men performing what would be known later on as yoga poses. He was, like the other Eastern experiences that he had, interested in what these men were doing, and allowed some to travel back to Europe. These experiences also prepped him to try and push for further territory but fate would have other plans.
So here’s the deal. You’re tight, suck at breathing, and you’re almost ready to call your training career quits. Take a second to get out of your meathead mindset and try something new, for the sake of lifting!
Yoga has a lot of potential benefit for a lot of athletes, including those in iron sports. Whether you’re a casual lifter or competitor, yoga can help broaden your foundation and create new opportunities for further progress in your training.
Did you know that the diaphragm links to the lumbar spine? Proper breathe is a key component in a variety of sports, including iron sports.
For a moment, check how you breathe. Take 4-5 breathes. Does your chest rise? Or do you inflate your belly? Breathing into your belly is more efficient for performance. You create more stability and it some cases it can alleviate symptoms like headaches that are a result of too much breathing into the chest.
Yoga provides a great way to practice deep breathe. In every pose that you take in a yoga session, you’re constantly breathing into tension. With each breathe, you work on relaxing muscles that you are trying to elongate, while simultaneously maintain stability in without excessive tightness.
Yoga can be a great tool for improving posture, by releasing muscles that have become tight through pattern overload. Tight posterior chain?
Going through slow, progressive forward bends or downward dog poses over the course of a 30 minute yoga session and you’ll see improvement in range of motion. That’s awesome if you have trouble getting into the start position on a deadlift.
Doing a lot of pressing? Feeling restricted with the typical unbalanced meathead posture: shoulders rounded forward. Yoga has shoulder openers to help pull your shoulders back.
Suck at single leg positions? Sure, you do weighted lunges but do you suck at them? DO you fall down a lot (a lot of people cant’ lunge well). Get extra bodyweight volume in while opening up your hips and building strength in that lunge pattern with lunge poses.
Yoga is active recovery that helps reinforce the very movements that we use in our strength training goals. How can you say no to properly-dosed, thoughtfully-programmed, vitality-restoring, movement volume?
Do you not want to maximize your training longevity to reach your goals?
That’s what great people have done. They remained open-minded to hit their goals effectively.
Alexander left the imprint of Greek Hellenistic culture in Asia, carving out one of the largest empires of the ancient world. His actions would even lead to the introduction of a Greco-Buddhism, an influence of Asian culture on the West. Alexander’s successes through his open-mindedness are a great example to take in being open-minded in training.
Maybe yoga will open up your mind to doing restorative work and keep balance with heavy lifting. Maybe it will add to your longevity as a lifter, helping you to maintain structural integrity as you indulge in your inner meathead.
Why be a hurt meathead, when you can be a zen-meathead instead?
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Yusuf Ahmed is an amateur powerlifter and distance runner. He runs Chronicles of Fitness a blog on using your fitness for more than personal development, through learning about human history. Learning History builds empathy and training brings out your best self; use both to become better fit to perform.