Tell me if you think this sounds familiar. Arrive at the gym, jump on the treadmill, throw in some big arm circles and a couple of squats. Headphones in. Shake it out, psyche it up and turn it up. Now get busy lifting. Breathe hard, push harder and collapse into a sweaty heap at the end. Swig some water, mix a protein shake and march out the door. No cool down. No stretches. No flexibility and…wait for it…No gains!!!
You see it all the time. And maybe, you’re guilty of it too?
But what if I told you that if you were to incorporate Yoga stretches into your cool down that you could see a 15 percent increase in your strength gains. Do I have your attention now!!
Well Sports Kinesiologist and Zap Fitness PT, Robyn Burgess certainly got my full attention when she dropped that little knowledge bomb during our chat. As a repeat offender of the above, I have neglected my post workout stretching routine in the past. Often finding the idea of doing the same old static stretches boring. But as Robyn points out, the beauty and appeal of doing Yoga stretches is that there’s a flow, “You’re able to work all the major muscles in a nice sequence that’s not complicated or hard to remember.”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Robyn’s clear passion about human movement. With a celebrated fitness career along with a working knowledge as a Kinesiologist, you can be sure that this trainer knows how to get the best out her clients, “With almost 20 years’ experience as a PT, I found kinesiology indispensable when it came to remaining injury free, stress free and maintaining a positive and successful frame of mind.” says Robyn.
According to Robyn, there’s a very simple yet oh so effective sequence that you can do post workout. It’s called a Sun Salutation; and as far as Yogi Newbs are concerned, this is an awesome place to kick start your Yoga experience.
Designed to stretch and release your entire body, it goes like this;
- Standing Mountain Pose: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Press your palms together in a prayer position.
- Upward Salute: Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and overhead. Gently arch your back and look to the ceiling.
- Standing Fold: Exhale as you fold forward from the hips. Bend your knees if necessary. Rest your hands beside your feet and bring your nose to your knees.
- Half Standing Fold: Inhale as you lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine forward so your back is flat. Your torso should be parallel to the floor. Keep your fingertips on the floor, or bring them to your shins.
- Plank: Exhale as you step or jump back into a high push up position, with your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-distance apart.
- Upward-Facing Dog: Inhale as you draw your chest forward and straighten your arms. Draw your shoulders back and lift your chest to the sky. Press through the tops of your feet, lifting your thighs off the floor and fully engaging your leg muscles. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.
- Downward-Facing Dog: Exhale as you lift your hips and roll over your toes, placing the soles of your feet on the floor. Your heels do not need to touch the ground. Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine.
- Repeat steps 4-3-2-1 to return to standing
You can run through the routine anywhere from 2-6 times, holding each movement for four long and gentle breaths. Think inhale to extend, and exhale to bend. Be mindful that you are the boss. Relax into each movement but never force anything, “Stretching should not be painful. Even experienced athletes should listen to their bodies. Some days you won’t be as flexible or move as freely and that’s ok.” explains Robyn.
Another tip is to practice. If you’re a little self-conscience, out of condition or unsure about your positions, Robyn suggests holding poses while you’re at home watching TV. You’ll see great improvement in your flexibility and have more confidence to run through your sequence at the gym.
– Prue Houston