Tip: Yoga Moves for Strong Lifters

Some of the best warm-ups for lifting actually come from the yoga studio. Here are a few that anyone can use. No Lululemon required.

Supplement Your Lifting with Yoga

Lifting is more fun than stretching. But sooner or later, you're going to need to stretch. At some point, mobility becomes an issue for every serious lifter.

Whether it's tight hips, an immobile thoracic spine, or frozen ankles, you'll come across restrictions that are limiting you from reaching your full potential. This is where yoga comes in.

To be truly strong and functional, you should be able to move freely throughout a full range of motion. Yoga not only increases your mobility, but your relative body strength and core stability as well.

Yoga has been around for over a thousand years, and almost all the "new" stretches, "primal movements" or breathing techniques to make you more mobile are derived from it. Yep, it turns out the exercises you thought were cutting edge were performed by dudes in India 5,000 years ago.

A little yoga will open your hips, mobilize your T-spine, and stretch your calves. This will increase your strength because your body won't be fighting itself on all your lifts. It'll reduce your potential for injury since you'll be able to move freely.

Here's a quick hip-opening yoga sequence. Do it post workout while the muscles are still warm.

Certain "vinyasas" or flow sequences can build a lot of core stability and teach you how to brace your core. Take for example going from "downward facing dog" to a "forward fold." If done right, this movement can develop shoulder and core strength, as well as enhance kinesthetic awareness. Here are some examples:

Jump Into Forward Fold

Slow Jump Into Forward Fold

Forward Jump Into Straddle Leg Handstand Press-Up

Forward Jump Into Straight Leg Handstand Press-Up

You don't need to do a whole yoga session to reap its benefits. You can learn a few yoga flows and add them into your warm-up. Here's a quick example:

Yoga Flow Warm-Up

If you really need to work on your mobility, take a power yoga class on your off days. In a few weeks you'll be able to move more freely and will most likely see your lifts increase.

TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.