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    Yoga For Beginners: How to Begin Your Yoga Journey

    Even the easy yoga poses will be challenging the first time you attempt them. Plus, “easy” is not the same for everyone. Unlike many other types of sport and fitness, yoga has its own language, its own breath patterns, and is intensely tied to self-realization. Practicing yoga will likely transform how you approach other sports, your body, and your sense of self. Many people start noticing the benefits of yoga after their very first session; most people will see a change after three to six weeks. But getting started is the hardest part, especially if you have ZERO yoga experience! Here, we tell you everything you need to know about beginners’ yoga.Tip:Before you start, review our blog post about yoga basics and some benefits of yoga. The post familiarizes you with the language of yoga (Sanskrit), the history of yoga, and the most popular types of yoga.Table of ContentsStep 1: Set Up Your SpaceWhile outdoor yoga is inspiring, we recommend starting your yoga practice indoors, where you can more easily hear and see your instructor, app, or other guides. We’re not going to lie: yoga can feel awkward when you’re getting started! Becoming comfortable in odd positions is part of the resiliency that yoga develops. But it takes a while to feel “okay” having your glutes in the air and your head near the ground! It’s best to learn yoga in a quiet, safe, private space.Be sure that your space is large enough to practice. It should be a few feet longer than your body when you lay on the ground. The ceiling should be high enough to lift your arms overhead with straight elbows. You will be moving side-to-side while laying on the ground, so it’s best to have a few feet available to each side of your mat, too.Once you’ve memorized the poses and learned a few flows, you can take your practice outdoors. Again, we recommend finding a safe and relatively secluded place. An ideal outdoor practice space allows you to let your guard down and zone out in the flow. If you’re fair-skinned or overheat easily, find a place with some shade. Yoga Gear ChecklistLike most types of fitness training, a yoga class can still be successful even if you don’t have the perfect equipment. But, having all the gear you might need will make your first classes more streamlined. Here’s a recommended list of yoga gear that you might use during your yoga session. By the way, to follow the environmentally-conscious paradigms of yoga, we recommend sourcing sustainable yoga materials as often as possible!Note:Yogis call tools like blocks, blankets, mats, and straps “props.” You’ll often hear an instructor say, “Use a prop underneath your knees in this pose.” And yogis often use props without being told to! There are no rules. Whichever props you need to make your practice work for your body and ability level are the right ones to use.The following props can be helpful during a yoga practice, but they’re not required. Whichever works for you is the best prop for you to use!Mat: find a mat that’s not too slippery. Ensure it’s not a Pilates mat. Yoga mats are thinner; they should be only centimeters thick, like a blanket.Block: these blocks are about 23 centimeters long and 15 centimeters thick. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. Avoid getting a heavy block as they’re difficult to move. Consider purchasing two blocks (one for each hand). If you don’t have a block, you can use other things like a book, a shoebox, or a stiff pillow.Water bottle: even simple yoga poses will get your juices flowing! Keep hydrated.Towel: yoga may not be HIIT, but it’s likely to make you sweat, especially if you are a beginner yogi! A small amount of sweat on your mat can become a slip hazard. Plus, towels can also double as pillows!Pillow: small pillows are an underrated prop! Use them to lift the back of the head when laying down for more comfortable neck positioning. They can also pad the knees when kneeling on the ground. Warmer clothing: practicing yoga in a teeny-tiny-sports bra and shorts is great. But when you lay down for savasana, your heart rate and core temperature will quickly decrease. Take a brief pause before savasana to put on socks and a hoodie.Blanket: in addition to warm clothing, have a folded-up blanket nearby. You can use it to cover the body during savasana for extra-cozy meditation. You can also use it as a prop for poses like halasana (plow pose). Strap: there are specific straps created for yoga made of non-flexible materials with looping mechanisms at the ends. But any stiff fabric with open ends that can be tied in a circle also works (like a leather belt). Yogis use the straps as arm and hand extensions when challenged to reach (like in seated forward fold pose).Journal: for ultimate rebalancing, journal before and/or after a yoga session. For more guidance, read on! This blog post discusses journaling in the “mindfulness” section.Step 2. Learn About 12 Of The Most Common Yoga PosesAs you progress in your yoga journey, you’ll find all sorts of crazy pretzel-poses to experiment with. These wild poses are mostly newer versions of foundational yoga poses. Learning the foundational poses first is imperative to exploring more creative flows and poses later. And our yogi ancestors believed that inner-stillness develops in more basic poses. So: start small! Get to know the following 12 poses, how your body feels in them, and how to modify the poses so that they serve you. Note:“Modification” simply refers to variations from the original posture. When a yogi assumes a modified pose, it’s not because they’re weak or incapable. They use a modification because their body finds it more effective and enjoyable. Modify without judgment! Your body is unique and deserves to be treated as such.1. Table Top PositionFunction: to find symmetry between left/right, top/bottom, front/back. Activate core muscles. Form: back must be completely flat, which means no convex or concave curvature anywhere along the spine. Since most people have some thoracic and lumbar curvature, this means that the belly muscles must be strong to push the lower back up. Muscles between the shoulders are engaged. The back of the neck is long, gaze toward the ground.Errors: having hands and knees close together (remember: yoga is all about making space). Sagging in the lower back. Shoulder blades poking upward. Hands further toward the top of the mat than the head so the neck is tense and shoulders elevated. Head to drooping lower than the shoulders.Modifications: many people struggle with table top position because of pressure on the knees and ankles. If so, use a prop below the knees to cushion them.Inspiration: Personal grounding and feeling centered in the self. Inner reflection and silence. Preparing oneself mentally for what’s to come. Being self-supporting.2. Forward Fold and Seated Forward FoldFunction: both grounded and standing versions of the forward fold lengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Deep core muscle engagement and isometric contraction. Lengthen the spinal muscles.Form: legs are touching or hip-width distance apart. The lower belly is firm, pulling the spine into flexion. Flexion occurs at the hips, not the back. Knees can be bent, but try to straighten the knees as flexibility increases. Feet point toward the top of the mat or the sky while hands reach toward the feet. The head relaxes toward the legs.Errors: having feet too wide so that the lateral glute muscles are engaged. Allowing the toes to turn out to the sides. Intensely reaching with the shoulders and arms so that the neck is tight and shoulders are elevated (but the back is still curved). Folding from the back, rather than at the hips. Not engaging the core. Holding breath.Modifications: people with herniated discs in the back should be careful with this pose or avoid it altogether. A prop can be used between the legs and back to support the spine. A strap around the toes, held in hands, can help find depth.Inspiration: Reaching for goals and moving boldly toward challenges with a sense of self-awareness and reflection. Loving oneself even despite struggles.3. Halfway LiftFunction: reset the spine between forward fold and plank during vinyasa. To activate back and core muscles. Lengthen hamstrings.Form: halfway lift might be the most misunderstood and frequently repeated yoga pose! It’s table top position but in a vertical structure. Enter from standing forward fold or after stepping to the mat’s top from another inverted position. Lift the spine until it’s even with the hips, forming the shape of a table. Place hands on the calves or thighs (not the knees), lift the head to align with the shoulders and gaze toward the ground below the nose. On exhale, release back to forward fold or continue to the next pose. Errors: same as table top position. And allowing the front of the rib cage to jut toward the floor, creating a spinal extension. Not lifting head high enough. Looking forward instead of down. Using only the back muscles to lift without tightening the core muscles. Pressing hands onto knees (the knees don’t deal well with this kind of pressure). Hyperextending knees.Modifications: people with chronically tight lower back muscles may struggle with this pose; their lower back muscles might try to do all the work. If this pose bothers your lower back, simply skip it and take an extra breath in forward fold.Inspiration: Preparing to surmount a challenge or go toward a goal. Reminding oneself of the future but staying grounded in the present. Keeping sight of aspirations.4. Low and High LungeFunction: whether grounded or standing, these poses aim to create more mobile hips. Build strength in the legs (especially in the standing version). Learn proper recruitment of hip, core, and back muscles with arms elevated.Form: one leg is forward, and the other is back (in a low lunge, the back knee is on the ground). The front knee stacks over the front ankle. Both hips squared to the front of the back. The rear ankle stacks above the back toes (or lie flat on the ground in a low lunge). Back is straight; hips in a slight posterior pelvic tilt; front rib cage pulled into the core. Arms elevated, elbows straight, shoulders relaxed. Gaze forward. The spine is long, stalked vertically from the hips to the crown of the head.Errors: Legs in a straight line with feet directly behind one another (like walking on a tightrope). Rib cage jutting forward so that abs are relaxed and lower back organizes into a lordotic position with anterior pelvic tilt (tailbone lifted). Shoulders squeezed up toward ears. Leaning forward instead of stacking shoulders, spine, and hips. The front knee barely flexed.Modifications: this pose is a total-body workout, so start with a low lunge until you get the hang of it. If the back or shoulders hurt, keep hands in prayer position at heart or resting on the hips. If there is a pain in the front knee, move the foot forward or backward until the pain is gone. Or, do not lunge so deeply into the pose.Inspiration: Jumping from one point in life to another without hesitation or worry. Embracing the unknown with an open heart. Boldness, bravery.5. Downward-Facing DogFunction: lengthen all muscles along the posterior chain, from heels to back of the neck. Build strength in the shoulders and upper back muscles. Stimulate brain function. Strengthen deep abdominal muscles.Form: to find a proper “down dog,” start in a plank position on the hands. Then, lift the glutes straight up to the sky without moving the hands or feet. Once there, you can move the feet slightly closer to the head so that the heels are entirely on the ground. Eventually, your ankles will be flexible enough that you need not take an extra step. The body should look like an isosceles triangle: the arms to glutes, glutes to ankles, and space between the hands and feet are equal in length. Feet are hip-width distance apart. Abs are engaged so that tailbone gently tucks and the lower back muscles relax. Shoulders pull-down spine, away from ears. The front ribs gently tuck toward the belly. Fingers are spread wide on the ground; as much of the hand is pressing into the ground.Errors: Fingers closed and most of the hand lifted off the ground (which can cause wrist pain). Arching spine so that chest curves toward legs. Hands and feet too close together, so tailbone just toward the sky and spine compresses. Keeping ankles tight so heels can’t relax. Arms and legs are too narrow or too wide.Modifications: people with high or low blood pressure should avoid holding this pose for a long time or skip it entirely. Knees can be slightly bent if you experience hamstring or lower back compression. A child’s pose is a fantastic substitute for downward dog.Inspiration: Pausing in times of conflict or hardship to investigate one’s true intentions and desires. Resiliency when the expected does not happen. Belief in one’s abilities. Creative inner thoughtfulness.6. High Plank or Low PlankFunction: A high Plank is a plank with hands on the ground; a low plank is elbows down. Most flowing styles of yoga cue high plank because it’s extra effort to drop and lift elbows continuously. Both versions of the pose require core strength, shoulder strength, and quadriceps strength. Nearly every other muscle in the body strengthens isometrically.Form: shoulders are stacked directly over hands and ankles are stacked directly over toes. The back of the head, shoulders, spine, and hips are all in a flat line, like table top position. The gaze is toward the ground directly below the nose. Legs are together or hip-width distance. The front rib cage pulls toward the spine. Mild posterior pelvic tilt.Errors: Fingers close together with most of the hands lifted off the ground. Hands forward of the head so that shoulders are elevated and tight. Back muscles lengthened so that the spine bows toward the ground. Hips higher than lower back; tailbone poking out. Lower back sagging with hips below shoulder level. The feet spread wide. In low plank: elbows splayed out to the sides.Modifications: if the wrists hurt in plank, replace high plank with low plank on the elbows (although this is not recommended for vinyasa classes). Both versions can be done with the knees on the ground (just be sure to keep the abs equally engaged).Inspiration: development of resiliency. Fostering a sense of inner self and independence. Asking oneself difficult questions. Sitting with discomfort. Building one’s strength for the future by staying present in the moment. Self-worth.7. Cobra and Upward-Facing DogFunction: strengthen the spinal extensors, upper back muscles, and glutes. Lengthen muscles around the chest and fronts of the shoulders. Release hip flexors; activate hip extensors and engage glute muscles. Lengthen quadriceps. Form: start with hands directly under shoulders and elbows tucked in toward the chest. With hips squared toward the ground, lift the chest. You can start with slightly bent elbows and work towards full elbow extension. Contract the muscles between the shoulders blades to widen the chest. Engage the glutes, pressing hips closer to the ground. Ankles plantarflexed (toes pointed, laying on the ground). Gaze is forward with the back of the neck long, stacked directly above the shoulders. The only difference between upward-facing dog and cobra is that cobra presses the hips to the ground, whereas upward-facing dog features elevated hips.Errors: beginning with hands forward of the shoulders and elbows opened toward the sides. Lifting shoulders toward the ears instead of engaging upper back muscles. Letting hips lift off the ground using only lower back muscles and no glutes. Keeping feet dorsiflexed (heels over toes, rather than ankles long on the ground).Modifications: if you suffer from certain kinds of lower back pain or have a herniated disc, it’s best to take this pose easy (or avoid it altogether by staying in the plank position). However, there are many ways to modify this pose to put less pressure on the spine. First, you can keep your elbows against the ground so that your thoracic spine and cervical spine are the only parts that lift. Second, you can simply take a few breaths on the earth without lifting. Third, you can keep your feet dorsiflexed and arch the spine, dropping the hips slowly while maintaining a Plank Pose (keeping abs engaged). Inspiration: belief in one’s ability to conquer any challenge with an open heart. Sending love into the world. Being receptive to other people’s love and feedback. Self-pride, self-worth, and the ability to share it with humility.8. Warrior IIFunction: strengthen the front leg’s gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and quadriceps. Strengthen and stretch muscles around the pelvis, inner thighs, and shoulders. Develop proprioception.Form: organization of the feet is perhaps the most crucial aspect of warrior II. The back foot must be turned at a 90-degree angle to the front with heels aligned. The front foot faces the top of the mat, with the knee directly over the ankle. Both feet are flat on the ground. Hips and shoulders squared toward the side of the mat. Upper body vertically aligned from crown of the head to tip of the tailbone. Gaze is forward over front hand. Arms reaching toward front and back of mat (respectively), stacked over ankles. The front leg knee is horizontal to the ground; the back leg knee extends.Errors: “charging” by pushing the torso forward over the front leg. Having the front knee too far ahead or too far backward of the ankle. Not flexing the front knee enough. Arms out to sides rather than over ankles; arms weak, elbows bent. Lower back arched and ribs flared; pelvis in an anterior tilt. Back leg knee bowed inward and/or bent. The back foot turned out into an obtuse angle (rather than a 90-degree angle perpendicular to the front foot).Modifications: warrior II is one of the more safe and comfortable yoga poses (although it’s challenging for the muscles to hold). People with knee pain can shorten the stance and refrain from flexing the front knee. For any back, ankle, or knee pain, experiment with bending or straightening the knee until comfortable. Be sure the back foot is perpendicular to the front foot!Inspiration: hopefulness and courage toward the future. Respecting the nature of past, present, and future. Care and caution when “drawing one’s sword.” Focus on the present moment.9. Warrior IFunction: strengthening the quadriceps of the front leg and gluteus muscles of the back hip. Lengthening and strengthening muscles of the pelvis. Gentle abdominal contraction. Lengthen latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior muscles (with arms overhead). Stretch back ankle.Form: warrior I is a complex pose in that it blends warrior II and high lunge. The legs are arranged like a high lunge, but the back foot opens to a 45-degree angle. So, the back foot of warrior I is more acute than the back foot of warrior II. Like warrior II (and unlike high lunge), the heels are linear. Like high lunge, the hips and shoulders are square to the front of the mat, with arms held overhead. Traditionally, the hands are pressed together in a prayer position above the head with elbows extended. The front knee flexes until the thigh is parallel to the ground. Back knee extended. The pelvis tucks into a gentle posterior pelvic tilt; the front ribcage moves toward the back of the body; the spinal column is vertical and long.Errors: feet crossed like a curtsy lunge (this makes balance difficult). Jutting the front ribs forward, arching the lower back, anterior pelvic tilt. Lifting shoulders with arms raised overhead. Straightening front leg.Modifications: like warrior II, warrior I is a relatively gentle pose. If knee pain occurs, shorten the stance. If pain in the hips or lower back occurs, widen the stance. A wider stance also helps with balance.Inspiration: self-reflection and external analysis before diving in. Rising from the ashes of previous pain and form to become a more robust version of yourself. Willingness to fight the good fight. Defending and serving one’s community.10. Child’s PoseFunction: lengthening the spinal extensors and compression of the spinal flexors (compression being a positive impact). Lengthening muscles along lateral edges of the torso. Stretching glutes, front of calves, and ankles. Compression and stretching of knees. Relaxation of neck muscles. Form: knees are open wider than torso, toes are touching. The torso relaxes between the knees. Arms are extended overhead, resting on the mat, with elbows straight. Eyes can be closed. The head rests on the ground between elbows. Glutes hover over or rest on the heels.Errors: keeping knees closer together (this is a different pose, called “ball pose”). Dorsiflexion of ankles rather than plantarflexion. Arms toward the edges of the mat rather than directly overhead. Stiffness in the belly that prohibits glutes from sinking toward heels.Modifications: while a child’s pose is considered a resting pose, it can be excruciating on some yogis’ knees. There are several modifications. First, pad below the knees with a pillow. Second, place a cushion between the knees and thighs to lift the hips off the ankles. Finally, keep the hips directly above the knees in a tabletop position. If the neck or shoulders are irritated with arms overhead, bring the hands back toward the feet with palms face-upInspiration: self-reflection and internal connection; understanding one’s existence as a small part of a big world. Relaxation, stress relief, independence, awe, and creativity.11. ChaturangaFunction: strengthening every muscle in the body, like a push-up. Especially the muscles of the triceps, shoulders, and core. Development of shoulder and wrist mobility. Form: chaturanga begins in plank pose. With elbows pulled tight to the body, perform a reverse tricep push-up. The less-intense version involves lowering oneself to the ground. The more-intense version consists of hovering above the ground with upper arm bones horizontal to the ground. Gaze toward the ground below the nose with head is as high as the shoulders (no lower). Entire back is flat, like table top position, with no curvature of spine. Shoulder blades pulled together. Feet dorsiflexed. Inhale to prepare, exhale to lower.Errors: chaturanga is a challenging pose that gets easier with practice. Issues occur when the lower back sags, shoulder blades peel apart, and the head drops below the shoulders. The pose should move like a plank lowering to the ground, not a snake curving and flopping down! Elbows being too broad is also an error. Holding the breath.Modifications: lower the knees to the ground and lower the chest and chin next. Hips are last to touch the floor. Ask a partner to place their hands on your elbows while standing above to help you feel the sensation of elbows tucked close to the body. Look forward so that the head stays elevated. Place hands on yoga blocks with the fingers hanging off the front edge to support wrist mobilization.Inspiration: overcoming challenges and the continuous work toward personal development. Self-confidence. Ability to speak one’s truths with humility.12. Standing Side BendFunction: stretch and strengthen the obliques, rectus abdominis, lower back muscles, and shoulders. Strengthen inner thigh muscles. Balance. Form: Like all other side bends, the standing side bend requires a neutral pelvis and spine. Only the muscles on the sides of the body contract and extend. Keeping ribs stacked over hips, the obliques on one side of the body contract and shorten. The opposite obliques lengthen and stretch. Arms raise overhead with fingers clasped in a “steeple grip” (i.e., only the first fingers are outstretched). Elbows straight, knees straight, legs locked together. Hips are horizontal, square, and symmetrical.Errors: lumbar curve and forward ribs so that the pose resembles a back-bend rather than a side bend. Standing with legs wide apart so that one hip also lifts. Elbows bent.Modifications: if the shoulders are irritated or elbows cannot straighten with arms overhead, drop the arm you’re bending toward and only keep one arm aloft. For balance issues, stand with the feet slightly wider. If you have lower back pain, focus on maintaining a mild posterior pelvic tilted posteriorly and engaging the lower abs.Inspiration: bending but not breaking. Choosing unique and creative paths in life. Leaning into discomfort. Exploration of the inner and outer self. Sense of strength in unexpected and irregular situations. Step 3. Practice MindfulnessYoga carries fantastic physical and athletic benefits. It’s one of the most accessible ways to increase flexibility and mobility. But it’s a special kind of exercise in that it carries elements of spirituality, meditation, and mindfulness. These elements do not reflect religion but are inspired by the mind-body connection. Do not discount this element of the journey! Here are a few things you can do to practice mindfulness.JournalWe’ve got an entire blog post dedicated to this very idea! Journaling is a fantastic way to keep track of the subtle and beautiful changes in the body, mind, and spirit that may (or may not) occur during your yoga practice. Try checking in with yourself BEFORE you begin to set intentions for the session. Then, check in with your feelings after the session to notice if any changes have occurred. Listen To Your BodyYoga goals aren’t like other fitness goals: they value the experience of the practice rather than the outcome. You can set unique goals before every session based on your present needs. In yoga, taking modifications, up-leveling, and down-leveling, are signs of self-awareness and self-love. Yogis allow their bodies to dictate the intensity of the class and even individual poses. Such attunement and adjustment to the minute details of one’s body might seem hyper-vigilant at first. Eventually, such perception will become natural and calming.ExperimentYoga promotes a sense of curiosity and exploration (it’s no wonder so many travel bloggers post images of themselves doing yoga poses in incredible places). Just as you experiment with new foods, styles of make-up, outfits, and sports, so should your yoga practice be a chance to escape the mundane and find delight! Here are a few ways to mix up your practice:Try a class in person at a local studioDo yoga with other sports, like at the top of a hike or after a soccer game Invite friends to join you! Teach each other your favorite posesChallenge yourself to a wild-n-wacky pose. Laugh when you fall out of it!Buy a spunky new outfit to practice inDo your yoga class at different times of day and adjust the intensity accordinglyTry different types of yoga, just for fun (aerial hoop, anyone?!)Lean Into ItStarting a yoga practice can feel confusing, complex, and downright weird. If you feel that way, you’re doing it right! Yoga is unlike any other form of exercise, mindfulness practice, or physical therapy because it blends all those things into one. By educating yourself on the practice before you begin and showing yourself grace through your initial struggles, you’ll find that the practice feels easier every time you get to the mat. Who knows? You might even find that your body, mind, and spirit crave it. About the AuthorEmily Stewart is a freelance writer at Runtastic. She’s a 200-Hour and nearly 500-Hour certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor. And, she’s a certified Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor. She’s taught yoga in the USA, England, Malta, and Austria (and online). She’s attended and hosted yoga retreats around the world. She spent six months studying abroad in India, where she practiced at an inner-city Sivananda Vedanta Yoga ashram at least twice weekly. She spent three days at their forest ashram in Tamil Nadu, India. She has served as a Mentor and Teacher Trainee with The Kaivalya Yoga Method Teacher Training.*** More

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    Yoga Basics: Background and Benefits of Yoga

    Everyone seems to be doing yoga these days, from Russell Brand to Madonna. Many of us Runtastics started doing easy yoga for beginners at Runtastic’s free weekly yoga sessions. It was an “ah-ha!” moment for a lot of us. After we personally felt the benefits of yoga, we decided to make yoga a central part of the adidas Training workouts.Here, we share some of the fun facts that we’ve learned about yoga. We’ll also explain four scientifically-backed benefits of yoga. There’s more! Stay tuned to this blog for more information on why we love yoga and think you will, too.What Is Yoga?Yoga, as it’s commonly regarded and practiced today, refers to a series of postures that the practitioner completes in a certain order. The poses are intended to stimulate the physical and emotional body. Some of the goals of yoga are to prime the self for seated meditation, increase overall vitality, and create a sense of connectedness between yogis and their world.Yoga was founded upon the language of Sanskrit. You will hear many Sanksrit words used in a yoga class. Using Sanskrit names is a way of respecting yoga’s ancient origins. It’s also a way of creating a community across languages and borders. The language of yoga is unique, and once you know it, you can practice yoga anywhere in the world.The poses and postures that we do in a yoga class are collectively referred to as asana. Yoga asana refers to what happens in a typical yoga class; it refers to the physical movements of yoga.What Does Yoga Mean?Etymologically, the word yoga comes from the term “to yoke.” This “yoking” is interpreted in different ways. Some practitioners think of it as connecting body and mind; others, as connection breath with movement; others, as connecting the individual with all things (the microcosm with the macrocosm). No matter how the yogi interprets it, yoga means a sense of connection and oneness.Types of YogaOver the years, yoga has spread from Asia to the rest of the world. Originally a Buddhist practice, it was eventually picked up by Hinduism (hence the many yoga poses named after Hindu Gods), parlayed back into Buddhism, and then distributed amongst many other faiths and communities. Today, there are a few very popular and recognized styles of yoga, plus many offshoots. The best style of yoga is the one that makes you happiest! Hatha yoga: the oldest form of yoga. Traditionally, an equal amount of time is spent on the ground and standing. Poses are held for 5-10 breaths each. Hatha poses are generally considered easy yoga poses. The aim of Hatha is to promote stillness.Power yoga: a more modern version of Hatha. In Power Yoga, intense poses are held for at least 10 breaths.Vinyasa yoga: a modern take on the idea of “breath with movement.” Poses are linked in a flowing way: one breath, one movement. Classes can be vigorous and are aimed at improving circulation.Ashtanga yoga: a challenging style of yoga, Ashtanga is all about developing strength. There are six levels of the Ashtanga series, each with increasing intensity. Most Ashtanga classes have no instructor. Rather, students memorize the poses and help each other. Yin yoga: another more modern style, Yin Yoga involves holding relaxed yoga poses for up to 10 minutes. Many props will be used to support the body and create comfort. The room is often kept very cool. Yin is regarded as the most low-intensity style of yoga, aimed at pain alleviation.Bikram yoga: considered by some to be a literal interpretation of yoga practiced in the warmest regions of India. The room is heated to around 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. The exact same yoga poses are completed in sequence every session.Is Yoga a Religion?No, yoga is not a religion. Yoga is literally a movement practice. Versions of yoga were formed around the same time period in different locations and within different religious communities. Like many other social constructs, yoga was co-opted by religions as a way to get more people interested in joining. However, yoga is traditionally a personal practice to promote health and aid meditation, regardless of religious beliefs.What Happens In A Yoga Practice?A traditional yoga session can be divided into subcategories. Usually, the practice starts with pranayama (breathing exercises). Next, posture-holding exercises (asanas). Finally, meditation (Saha). In most yoga classes today, the meditation part is shorted to savasana. “Corpse Pose,” as it’s commonly known, is actually an asana that requires lying still on the ground for at least two minutes.(1)Is Yoga Exercise?The short answer: it depends on how vigorous your practice is and how fit you are. Some styles of yoga, like Power, can be considered strength-training exercises because they involve isometric holds in challenging poses. Some styles, like Vinyasa, can be used as a cardiovascular workout if the yogi moves quickly between poses. A study comparing yoga and other physical exercise found that yoga was more beneficial to overall health because of the mindfulness, breathwork, and emphasis on correct posturing.(2)A regular yoga practice will most likely increase one’s flexibility. Most scientists believe that flexibility is a deterrent to injury, although this tends to be sport-specific.(3) Still, there are enough athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and everyday people who swear that yoga makes their bodies feel better. We think so, too!Benefits of YogaWhile scientific analysis is still trying to determine what exactly happens psychologically during a yoga practice, societies around the world have put a stamp of approval on yoga. Here’s why.1. Mental HealthWe know that exercise has a positive impact on mental health. Yoga carries its own unique benefits. The first comes from the mindfulness of the practice. Mindfulness refers to momentary and complete focus on a single activity. Such thoughtfulness is actually extremely cleansing for the brain; yogis report feeling more grounded and alert after a class. One study suggests that this mindfulness was a result of the breathing, meditation, and technical posturing of yoga. This combination of activities increases brain wave activity. Such brain wave activity increases gray matter and activates the amygdala and frontal cortex of the brain. The clinical trial proved that such frontal lobe activation was present after a yoga session. How awesome is that?!(4)Many studies show that yoga helps with perceived stress.5) Yoga is also proven to decrease the feelings of anxiety and depression in those with anxiety disorders.(6)Interestingly enough, a higher-intensity style of yoga has a greater positive impact on depression.(7) 2. Chronic Back PainOne of the most oft-cited benefits of yoga is its assistance with chronic back pain. Doctors and clinicians are advised to recommend yoga to their patients before more invasive chronic back pain treatments.(8)3. SleepEven yoga that’s practiced during the day has been shown to improve sleep. One study found that after just four weeks of yoga, chronically stressed nurses were able to sleep better.(9) Another study showed improved sleep after six weeks of higher-intensity yoga.(10) Yet another study showed that women, in particular, experienced more satiating sleep when they practice yoga regularly.(11) Many individuals use Yin Yoga as a way of preparing the body physically for rest. Or, they do Vinyasa in the morning routines to help wake up. Creating a yoga practice reflective of your sleep schedule is a great way to tune up your circadian rhythm!4. MobilityMobility is the body’s ability to move with ease and grace by employing multiple body parts at a time. It’s basically flexibility and movement combined. Mobile people are often less prone to injury because they’re able to activate certain muscles or muscle families while allowing others to rest (or simply stay out of the way). Yoga practices inspire mobility by helping us feel how different parts of the body move in relation to each other (also called kinesthetic awareness). And, it challenges us to find more depth, strength, and fluidity in movement. Even simple chair yoga movements can contribute greatly to the overall mobility of key joints, like hips and ankles.Start a Yoga JourneyNow that you know the what and the why, it’s time to learn HOW! We’re always adding more great content to the adidas Training app. Check out our new guided workout with American yoga instructor, Adriene Mishler. Gift yourself 23 minutes for this relaxing Vinyasa flow. And stay tuned! There are more incredible yoga workouts on the way. All you need is the adidas Training app, a yoga mat or soft ground, and a sense of commitment. If you lose motivation, we’re here to support you! We’ll be posting more articles about the intricate details of yoga, from journaling to breathwork. About the AuthorEmily Stewart is a freelance writer at Runtastic. She’s a 200-Hour and nearly 500-Hour certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor. She is also a certified Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor. She’s taught in the USA, England, Malta, and Austria. She’s attended and hosted yoga retreats around the world. She spent 6 months studying abroad in India, where she attended an inner-city Sivananda Vedanta Yoga ashram at least twice weekly. She also spent three days at their forest ashram in Tamil Nadu, India. She has served as a Mentor and Teacher Trainee with The Kaivalya Yoga Method Teacher Training.  More

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    Understanding and Overcoming Plateaus in Sports Performance

    Popular media is full of stories of people conquering challenges no matter what. New employees learn the company’s goals first and their own tasks second. Every year Olympic athletes break their own personal records. We’re led to believe that setting goals, and then working arduously to achieve them, will lead to success.But what if you’ve been working toward a fitness goal for weeks, years, or months, and suddenly hit a plateau? Here’s how to cope with a workout plateau. The first thing to recognize is that it won’t last forever. The second thing is that you don’t deserve all the blame. There are many factors at-play when it comes to workout goals, including sports nutrition and overtraining.What is a Plateau?According to analyst Wu Xiangming,“The plateau phenomenon… refers to the stagnation or even regression of an athlete’s performance within a certain period of time after the rapid progress in years of training.” Xiangming identifies that there are “internal and external” causes for such a plateau(1).While the above study examined South Korean athletes over the course of years, fitness plateaus can still happen to everyday athletes over the course of weeks or months. Basically, an exercise plateau occurs when the athlete is unable to successfully increase the intensity of a workout or earn a new personal best. Intensity can refer to any exercise stimulus, from duration to volume to velocity. Are you unable to go faster, lift heavier, or go higher? Then you’ve probably reached a workout plateau.There are two kinds of plateaus that may affect everyday and competitive athletes: a mental plateau and a physical plateau. For most athletes, a mental plateau expresses itself as a negative and unmotivated attitude toward exercise. A physical plateau is the literal inability to progress in a movement or sport. Usually, athletes experience both in conjunction. Sports psychology analyzes both aspects when identifying athletes’ performance.What Causes A Plateau in Performance?In fact, the “Plateau Effect” is a natural occurrence in sport. As an athlete gets fitter, they must continually add on more intensity to improve. Performance will reach a plateau if the training load is kept constant.(2)Blaming yourself for being “unmotivated” or “lazy” won’t help with sports plateaus. There are many reasons why an athlete might not be progressing. Understanding those reasons is the first step to overcoming them. Ask yourself the following questions.#1: Are My Goals Right For Me?When setting achievable goals it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you want and why you want it. Maybe the goal is to run 5km, and you can’t seem to move past 3km. But what was the reason behind running 5km? If you only intend to lose weight, and you’ve indeed gone down in a pant size, then you can be happy with 3km.Truthfully, getting started with a new workout routine is the most difficult part. Once an initial increase in fitness has been realized, it takes much less physical effort to maintain. If you love your 5km runs and easily maintain them in your schedule, then you might make a new goal of simply maintaining your workout schedule. At some point, the goal could be simply to “maintain” rather than “gain.” Here’s another thing that Instagrammers don’t share: most of them are in the maintenance phase. They talk about “gains” but they’ve already put in years of effort to get where they are. Now, they’re in a relatively normalized state, where they eat and train to maintain their current form.Of course, competitive athletes are always striving to win. But, the everyday athlete must weigh their perception of fitness with the creation of goals that are personally fulfilling, sustainable, and achievable. Ask yourself: what are your needs, desires, and motivations? Set goals that match. For more guidance, see our goals setting guide.#2: Have I Given Myself Enough Time?Most people who’ve achieved notable success have been working on their craft for a long time. It takes several years of regular physical movement to change one’s physiology. Set small, incremental goals on your way toward a larger goal. Be willing to give the incremental goals all the time they require.#3: Am I Rested?There’s a reason why some of our most popular articles deal with overtraining and knowing when to take a rest day. Over-exercising is both a cause for and symptom of performance plateaus. The body requires adequate recovery between sets and sessions. Rest isn’t just taking physical days off. It’s everything that makes you feel lively again: sleep, food, creative time, vacations, etcetera. Your nervous system is complex. It rules the mind and body. When it’s undernourished and full of cortisol, it’s going to underperform. The result? Feeling physically and emotionally unwell. Determining just how much rest to get is tricky. That’s why we’ve written this training tips blog post about guidelines for recovery periods and days. Our post on sleep advocates for creating a sleep schedule alongside a workout schedule.#4: Am I Getting Enough Variety?Elite athletes only train intensely two or three times a week. The rest of the week is spent cross-training, lower-intensity exercise, mobility work and active recovery. Even non-competitive athletes do better when they vary the training style and intensity throughout the week. Why is cross-training important? First: injury prevention. Train supporting muscles so that when primary muscles fatigue the secondary muscles kick-in. This helps to prevent unnatural pressure on a joint. Second, cross-training keeps the mind and body curious about movement, increasing enjoyment and motor skill development. Third, it provides active rest days to flush the system of lactate and keep the body supple (if you don’t push it too hard).Here are three ways to introduce variety into your training schedule:Do the opposite. If your goal is running, try swimming. If your goal is to get rock-hard abs, try soft yoga. Let your body use all of its functions in as many ways as possible.Vary bodyweight versus barbells. Bodyweight training builds muscle without using weights. Bodyweight exercises tend to be compound movements, which work multiple parts of the body at once. They’re an easy way to build muscle if you’re focused on cardiovascular endurance and boost the metabolism if you’re focused on hypertrophy.Do something for fun. What is Pilates? Is dancing actually a workout? Do you have an old pair of rollerblades collecting dust in the closet? Take them for a spin! Find new and novel ways to move. You’ll be amazed at what you can do and laugh at what you can’t. #5: Am I Using Sports Nutrition?The field of sports nutrition is complex and ever-expanding. The goal is to promote muscle development and cardiovascular endurance while minimizing fat storage. Thanks to the world wide web, it’s easier than ever to get nutrition advice. From intuitive eating to intermittent fasting, Keto to vegan, someone on YouTube probably has a channel dedicated to telling you why their diet is the best diet. Knowing where to start, and who to trust, is the hard part.Ultimately, what feels good in your body is the best diet for you. But, there are some basic, science-backed sports nutrition truths. Read on! ProteinAdequate protein intake is crucial when overcoming a workout plateau. Protein builds muscles and can be used as fuel when carbohydrate sources are depleted. It is a longer-lasting energy source for the body. Protein also contributes to feeling satiated (which can help with weight-loss goals). Unfortunately, the “right amount” of protein remains undetermined in the scientific community.What we do know is that the body maximizes protein differently depending on age and activity level. Protein is valuable because of amino acids, and vegetarian-based protein sources need to be combined with other amino acid sources in order to create the complete protein that muscles require. It’s not a bad thing to eat more protein than the body requires, but it also doesn’t help. Extra protein is oxidized or transaminated to other organic acids in the body (basically, it’s converted to something other than protein). However, current studies are based on fast-digesting proteins like supplements and powders. More research needs to be done about natural proteins that are bound with other macronutrients, i.e. carbohydrates and fats.(3)You can use our protein calculator to learn a ballpack range of how much protein overall your body requires. If you’re very focused on building physique, lean muscle, and strength training, then you can add many more grams of protein per day to this initial amount.Fats and CarbohydratesThe fitness world is obsessed with protein (for good reason, as shown above). But inadequate overall nutrition will cause the body to steal protein from muscle, rather than fats and carbohydrates.(4) Fast-acting carbohydrates are the first thing that the body uses when cardiovascular intensity increases. Fats are used once carbohydrates are naturally depleted and on endurance-based workouts (like long runs). If you’re underfueling on fats and carbs then your body will use its own muscles as a protein source. Muscle mass will decline, as will overall performance.Nutritional TimingTiming nutritional intake to optimize sports performance is tricky. An athlete must consume enough calories to offset energy expenditure, otherwise they’ll get sick, stressed, and less fit. Try eating several times a day, including nutrient-rich supplements like energy bars that are easier to digest before or during a workout.(5) Most sports scientists advise to spread protein throughout the day, too.6: Am I Enjoying It?So you’re eating properly and working out on-schedule… but you’re still stuck in a training rut. Have you stopped to ask yourself: “Am I actually enjoying this?”Turning an enjoyable activity into a task takes all the fun out of it. Like, turning your relaxing daily run into a never-ending chore to go faster or longer.We may also be lacking personal trust. We may be worried about the “slippery slope” if we miss a workout or over-eat. Sometimes, self-confidence and self-mastery are confused with deprivation and control.When a plateau does occur, it can lead to self-doubt. A sports plateau has a negative and significant effect on exercise satisfaction and exercise commitment.(6)Anxiety around performance– success or failure– can be the reason behind performance plateaus. Acceptance and forgiveness can help an athlete move past a plateau. Keeping exercise fun and entertaining ensures that you’ll keep coming back for more.Three Simple Tips to Overcoming a Performance PlateauYou may find that, once you’ve taken time to listen to your mind and body, your plateau naturally fades away. But if you’re still struggling to move on, try these three simple tips.Shake it up with apps. If you’re a runner, mix it by downloading the adidas Training app. If you’re focused on strength or mobility training, download the adidas Running app. These apps will provide training tips for all fitness levels (beginner to advanced). The apps can help you to:Set new goals and edit old ones. Goals can be short- or long-term.Connect with adidas Runners groups in your area. Meet new workout buddies and learn new running routes.Challenge and inspire you with virtual races and challenges.Hire a personal trainer or take group fitness classes. Personal trainers and fitness instructors will kindly critique your form and exercise function. They will give you new workouts and ensure that you stay accountable to your reps and frequency. A fitness professional’s job is to motivate and encourage you.Work with a nutritionist or dietician. Trying to make your own nutrition plan can be frustrating, intimidating, and downright irritating. So, hire a trained professional. They can help you with gentle nutrition that serves your training needs. Many healthcare plans include nutritionists and dieticians. ConclusionTrying to push past a plateau is like trying to break down a locked door. Instead, listen and feel what the plateau is saying about your lifestyle. A plateau in performance tells you something much larger than the goals you’re NOT achieving. It shows that something in your training plan or lifestyle requires adjustment. The issue could be unrelated to your fitness, like sleep or food or time to relax. Use a workout plateau to learn about what your body and mind really need. Feel free to scale back your exercise, to forget about the goal for a while. Try new ways of living. You might find that when you return with a fresh plan and fresh mindset, you’ll go further than you ever imagined!*** More

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    Walking, Jogging, Running: Expert Advice and Progression Plans

    For most people, the hardest part of any new hobby, habit, or lifestyle change is just getting started. Progressing from walking to running is no exception. Even expert running coaches like Sascha Wingenfeld understand the trepidation of starting a new running regimen. He urges would-be runners to “keep in mind that the first step is always the hardest!” He advises folks to think of running as a ‘new start.’ New runners should try being non-judgmental and curious about the habituation process. “A few guidelines can help you avoid beginner’s mistakes and thus achieve your running goals,” says Sascha. Read on to see Sascha’s advice. Plus, see our workout plans for motivation, endurance and speed, or download a blank template and create your own!Here are the five best tips for running to walk, plus our training plans:Run, Walk, Run: Interval TrainingIf it’s not possible to run the whole distance right from the beginning, then run and walk. Start off by breaking a run up into short intervals of running and walking. Stick to the training plan’s miles, time, and intensity, but feel free to intercept particularly hard workouts with walk breaks.“This way you reduce the overall intensity and minimize the orthopedic stress of a running session,” explains Sascha. As fitness levels increase, lengthen the running parts and shorten the walking breaks. This basic form of interval training is especially beneficial for beginning runners.Examples of run, walk, jog sets:Workout: alternate between 3 min jogging + 2 min walking for a total of 20- 25 minWorkout: alternate between 4 min jogging + 2 min walking for a total of 30 minWorkout: alternate between 5 min jogging + 2 min walking for a total of 30 minWorkout: alternate between 5 min jogging + 1 min walking for a total of 30-40 minWorkout: alternate between 3-5-8-5-3 min jogging + 3 min walking for a total of 40 minWorkout: alternate between 5-8 min jogging + 2 min walking for a total of 40-45 minWorkout: alternate between 8 min jogging + 3 min walking for a total of 45 minWorkout: alternate between 10 min jogging + 2 min walking for a total of 45 minWalking to Running: Take It EasyMany beginning runners tend to start off too fast because of the initial excitement. This often results in many first attempts ending after a few hundred meters. Plus, this can lead to overtraining and fatigue, which usually puts a premature end to any running ambitions. The reason for this is quite simple: People tend to lose interest pretty quickly when things aren’t fun. Therefore, Sascha recommends starting off very easy: “Your body needs time and rest to get used to the new stresses and strains of running. Always choose a pace where you can carry on a conversation without gasping for breath. It may seem too easy and relaxed to you at first, but with time, the intensity will add up.” Increasing your training slowly and giving your body time to adapt to the new demands will lead to long-term success, improved fitness, and better running technique.Leave Room for ImprovementHow to improve running pace and intervals? Make sure to start off with very short distances. Still have energy afterwards? No problem. Just increase the distance a little next session. Don’t overdo it: the best training plans start slow. At first, the body needs time to adapt to the new training stimuli. The heart, muscles, metabolism and circulation have to get used to the new workload. Give the body the time it needs and plan training so that rest and work alternate. Variety Is The Spice of FitnessThere is more to training than running. Especially when starting out, it is a good idea to increase fitness and avoid injury through running cross training. Mixing up exercise reinforces cardiovascular and muscular endurance. And, different styles of exercise balance out the muscular and orthopedic stresses of running. Try these bodyweight exercises or download the adidas Training app for guided workouts.Follow A Training PlanThe exact training plan for a runner really depends on their goals. Here, we’ve laid out a few different walk-to-run programs for brand-new runners and those who’ve returned to running. Give the plans a try, then use other advice on the adidas Runtastic blog to elevate your goals and running form. You can also create your own plan by downloading our training plan template. PS: Some of these plans include yoga. Here’s a blog listing some great yoga poses for runners.How to use the following plansIdentify your fitness goalsFind the plan that best fits your goalsSave, print, or download the image so that you can use it with ease!Or, download your own blank training plan. Set your own goals, create a weekly workout schedule, and stick to it!Share your workout schedule with us! Take a picture and tag @adidasruntastic on Instagram. Then, be sure to track and share your progress on the adidas Running app.Just Keep RunningBuild EnduranceSpeed Up!Or, create your own run walk training plan!Training Plan TemplateSascha’s Bottom LineThe first step out the door is always the hardest. Perfection is not the goal; enjoyment and fitness are! Remember that running is genetically viable for all humans. It might not be pretty at first, but grace will come! Just keep running. *** More

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    Training in the Heat: All About Heat Acclimation, Nutrition & Exercise Tips

    4. 6 Nutrition Tips for Summer ExerciseHigh temperatures mean that eating certain foods before and after runs can help you perform your best as the temperature starts to soar.Summer Workout: Best 6 Drinks & Foods for Runners in the Summer1. Coconut waterKnown as nature’s sports drink, coconut water is ideal for rehydrating after summertime runs instead of artificially sweetened sports drinks or plain H2O. Read the nutrition facts carefully, though: many coconut waters are packed with added sugars.Coconut water is loaded with potassium. Potassium is one of six key electrolytes (the nutrients that are critical to preventing dehydration). Potassium also helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and assists with muscle function and relaxation. If you’re counting macros, note that coconut water is lower in carbohydrates than normal sports drinks.2. AvocadoAvocados are incredibly nutrient-rich and full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in the body and need to be replenished daily. For runners, avocados are especially helpful: they’re full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.(1) They are full of soluble fiber which helps keep you feeling full for longer — perfect for long run mornings. Avocados have one more surprise benefit: they are actually one of the top plant-based protein foods! Regularly eating avocados in a balanced diet can contribute to the development of lean muscle mass. Try adding smashed avocado, herbs, and salt to a piece of whole-grain toast before heading out on a run.3. BlueberriesThese little nutrient-dense fruits are fantastic for runners. Blueberries have a high water content, so consuming them before working out in the heat will help you stay hydrated during extra steamy runs. They’re also high in antioxidants, protecting against numerous chronic diseases like heart disease.In fact, one study found that when runners ate blueberries before a 5-kilometer run, their post-run “good” cholesterol levels increased while insulin levels decreased.(2) Luckily, blueberries are plentiful during the summer. Have a handful before heading out for a run, or try a smoothie with blueberries, Greek yogurt, and kale.4. KefirDid you know that kefir, a cultured dairy product, is one of the best sources of probiotics? Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria that boost the immune system, help you maintain a healthy weight, and prevent the development of leaky gut syndrome. These are helpful benefits for any athletes, but when it comes to runners, kefir is great because of its ability to help improve allergies.If you suffer from hay fever or other seasonal allergies, you might find that spending time running outside exacerbates your condition. Regularly consuming kefir, however, can help alleviate that, as the microorganisms found in kefir help the immune system naturally suppress allergic reactions.(3)5. QuinoaThis seed’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and with good reason. It’s a complete protein source, meaning it provides all 20 amino acids the body needs, including the ten essential acids that our body doesn’t produce on its own. If you don’t eat meat or just want an extra protein boost, serving quinoa as a side dish or building a meal around it can help you boost your protein intake.Quinoa is great in summertime because quinoa is also a complex carbohydrate, helping to sustain you during challenging runs while aiding in weight loss. Gluten free runners rejoice: Quinoa is a safe food for you! Enjoy it as an alternative to pasta the night before a big race or a longer run!6. SpinachSpinach should also be on your shopping list when exercising in summer. Running or training in the heat can take a toll on your body. Luckily, this leafy green can help you reach peak performance.One study discovered that nitrates, which are found in greens like spinach, can improve performance during short bouts of exercise, like sprints or interval running. In fact, after just five weeks of training, athletes given a nitrate supplement of 400 milligrams — the equivalent of about 2-3 cups of fresh spinach — improved their muscle fiber composition.(4) Improvements in muscle fiber allow athletes to train harder and boost performance. Enjoy spinach in a chia-seed smoothie before running or afterward in a Grecian spinach salad.Choosing the right foods in the summer can make it easier to work out in the heat, both before and after your run. Integrate these nutrition tips into your summer diet to improve your running performance. Your body will thank you! More

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    Pregnancy Exercise: All You Need to Know Before You Start

    Pregnancy, especially the first one, brings up a lot of questions. And while exercise is generally advisable for pregnant women, it can be hard to figure out what exactly to do.You’ll find everything you need to know here:Answers to the most common questions regarding safe pregnancy exerciseSpecific trimester tips and other tips for prenatal workoutsTraining plan examplesPrenatal home workouts in the adidas Training app1. Who should not exercise during pregnancy?In uncomplicated pregnancies, exercise is highly encouraged (see Pregnancy exercise benefits). However, there are certain conditions in which exercise is not permitted (absolute contraindications) or allowed only under special supervision (relative contraindications).(1)Keep in mind: You should always get approval from your doctor before starting any exercise during pregnancy.Absolute contraindicationsMultiple pregnancies at risk of premature labor Persistent 2nd trimester or 3rd trimester bleedingPlacenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation Premature labor during current pregnancyRuptured chorioamniotic membranes Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension Severe anemia Certain types of heart and lung disease Incompetent cervix or cerclageRelative contraindications: AnemiaChronic bronchitisPoorly controlled type 1 diabetes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, or seizure disorderExtreme obesity or underweightHistory of extremely sedentary lifestyleIntrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancyUnevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia Orthopedic limitationsHeavy smokerBefore you begin exercising, make sure to also check the warning signs to know when you should stop exercising.2. What kind of exercise is safe? Even though the doctor has cleared you for exercise, the changes you experience during pregnancy might still make you wonder what kind of exercise is safe. Unsafe sports during pregnancy(2)Sports with a high risk of falling or injury (i.e. skiing, climbing, horseback riding, martial arts, diving, surfing, etc.)Contact sports like soccer, handball, and basketballLifting weights heavier than you are used to and need to strain to liftCompetitive sports and races, unless you are an athlete supervised by coach and doctorActivities at high altitudes ( > 2500 m/8,200 ft) and high temperatures (hot yoga)Scuba divingMost other sports activities are generally safe, but you still need to consider your individual experience and skill level. If you were…Active before pregnancy – can you keep doing what you were doing?If you were active before pregnancy, you can consider continuing with the same or similar activities, unless they’re on the above-mentioned list of unsafe sports. You need to consider your physical changes (see Exercise Tips and Adjusting to Your Trimester) that may require necessary modifications and adjust the intensity (see How intensely can you exercise while pregnant).Not active before pregnancy – can you start exercising?Yes, but you need to do it gradually. Start at a low intensity (where you can normally keep a conversation while active), working out continuously for 10 minutes. You can start with 10-minute walks, too.Over the next 2-4 weeks, aim to increase the duration of the workout (or walk) to 30 to 45 minutes and the intensity to a moderate level (see How intensely can you exercise while pregnant). This will entirely depend on how your body responds to the exercise and how your pregnancy evolves.(3)Prenatal workouts such as Short Seated Stretching and Yoga Inspired Mobility in the adidas Training app can be a great start. Pregnancy is unpredictable. So instead of setting expectations, aim to be content with knowing that you are doing the best you can, while at the same time honoring your current situation, whatever that is.Make sure to check the warning signs to know if you should stop exercising.3. How to choose the best pregnancy workoutPregnancy is a unique opportunity to learn what it really means to “listen to your body”. Choosing the best activity depends not only on your previous experience and preference, you should also consider the current state of your body (and mind). Golden rule: The best pregnancy workout is the one that makes you feel better – more energized or relaxed – than when you started (and not more tired or nervous). Physical changes from pregnancy that may affect exercise(4,5,6)Abdominal muscles get stretched, the core is less efficient in handling loads and pressure Changes in postural balance make pregnant women more likely to sustain a fallHormonal changes causing increased breast size, relaxed ligaments, swelling, fatigue all directly affect how you feel before, during, and after exercise.Oxygen requirements increase, making it harder to sustain longer or intense exerciseIt gets harder to stay hydrated. Drink more water and watch out for signs of dehydrationPostural changes such as changes in the curvature of the lower spine and rounding of the shoulders affect movement The expansion of the belly changes the rib and diaphragm position, affecting breathing.Considerations for different types of activitiesTip:If you like exercise classes, make sure to look for a qualified prenatal instructor and inform them that you are pregnant before starting.Strength TrainingRecommended to support muscle function, improve posture, and metabolism. There is no need to completely avoid resistance training in pregnancy; it can be adapted.Can be done with weights or just using your body weight. There are no specific weight limitations. It depends on your fitness routine and experience before pregnancy. Do not lift anything that requires you to strain or hold your breath. This might be a loaded barbell for some, while dumbbells may be too much for others. A general rule to follow is: never “max out” and stick to higher rep ranges, ending the set when you feel like you could still do some reps. Try the 25-Minute Full-Body Pump and Full-Body Strength prenatal workouts in the adidas Training app.Stretching & Pregnancy YogaMake sure not to overstretch; only stretch as far as is comfortable. Consider avoiding any poses that include backbends, strong and rapid contractions of the abdominal muscles, holding your breath, deep twists, inversions… Try the Yoga Inspired Mobility and Short Seated Stretching workouts in the adidas Training app. For more advanced workouts, qualified supervision is advised (instructor or coach with certification for prenatal workouts).CardioStick to moderate intensities (check out How intensely can you exercise while pregnant?)Avoid any jumping, high-impact, or bouncing movements. The Low-Impact Cardio workout from the adidas Training app was created especially for pregnancy cardio at home.You can keep running during pregnancy if you were running before, as long as you keep the intensity moderate and stop the instant anything begins to feel “off” (pelvic floor heaviness or any other symptom). If you were not running before, stick to walking workouts during pregnancy.Other cardio ideas: swimming, stationary cycling…What’s best? Staying active by combining different types of workouts will bring the best results. For example, a combination of strength and cardio will have a greater effect on reducing the risk for gestational diabetes.(7) 4. Pregnancy Training PlanWhen it comes to prenatal workouts, the most important thing is to listen to your body, not follow a set schedule. That’s why you can find examples of two completely different training plan weeks for pregnancy. These are suggestions only; they show you how much a training plan can depend on our energy levels and current state. You can get all workouts in the adidas Training app and use them according to what feels best!DownloadRemember:At any point in your pregnancy, you might experience changes that require you to modify your fitness plan. Embrace the changes and look for other options. Never push your way through a plan for the sake of discipline.5. How intensely can you exercise while pregnant?The easiest way to measure intensity is the talk test:(8)Can you still hold a conversation while exercising, even though it might be a bit harder? If you have to stop to finish a sentence or pause to be able to breathe normally, the workout is too intense.When it comes to prenatal exercise, it’s essential to keep the intensity moderate. What this means, however, can be different for each person and can also be measured differently.(9)What does moderate intensity feel like? You could continue the activity for a longer period, even though your breathing is getting slightly heavier. It might be more difficult to sustain a conversation, but still possible. Singing would not be an option. You start sweating but are not yet on the verge of feeling uncomfortable.Use a measurement scale: On a scale of 1 to 10, your effort should not feel like more than 6; ideally, it would be between 4 and 6.Doctors and coaches can advise more experienced athletes on how to train at higher intensities.Keep in mind:Some days, the same workout will feel much harder or easier than another day. Don’t worry, this is completely normal. Don’t get stressed out and modify it or choose another workout to be able to keep the intensity moderate.What should my heart rate be during pregnancy exercise?The 140 bpm limit for pregnancy exercise is outdated. Published expert guidelines around the world do not agree on a single number that applies to all pregnant women.(10) A better approach is to modify the intensity based on your perceived effort as explained above.6. Warning signs – when to stop exercisingIf you notice these warning signs at any point during the workout, stop the workout and consult your doctor:(11)Dizziness or feeling faintVaginal bleeding Shortness of breath before starting to exerciseChest pain or abdominal painHeadacheMuscle weakness affecting balanceCalf pain or swellingRegular, painful uterine contractions Fluid gushing or leaking from your vagina7. How often should you work out during pregnancy? 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day on most or all days of the week is considered ideal.(12) However, the ideal fitness routine is not always realistic. Pregnancy is a time when you need to honor the current state of your body. Some days you can do more, others less, or you might even need to just take a day off to rest.Can you work out every day if you feel good? It is best to take rest days from working out (at a moderate intensity), but stay active (with low-intensity activities). You should definitely, as much as your energy allows, be active every day. Movement is healthy and it doesn’t always have to be exercise!Check out the weekly training plan suggestions to get an idea of how to adjust workouts to your energy levels.8. Exercise tips – pelvic floor, breathing, postureEven if you have always exercised regularly, your body will change during pregnancy. It’s important to consider these educational tips when working out.Your Pelvic Floor and Kegel ExercisesWhat is the pelvic floor? The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. These are located inside the pelvis. Among other things, they are important for sexual function, stabilization of your core during movement, and preventing incontinence. Why is the pelvic floor important for pregnancy exercise? Pregnancy affects the pelvic floor, mostly by increasing the pressure on it. It can lead to complications such as prolapse or incontinence. You need to watch out for symptoms such as a feeling of heaviness, the sense that something is “falling out of your vagina”, or pain in the pelvic area. This helps you react early enough, modify activities, and avoid further complications. Should you be doing special exercises for the pelvic floor (Kegels)?Doing Kegel exercises can help you get familiar with your pelvic floor muscles and learn how to contract and relax them (both are equally important!). That is crucial for your pelvic health, also later in the postpartum period. However, more is not always better. The pelvic floor works also when you just walk or do other types of work, so don’t overdo it. Based on current research, specific pelvic floor training during pregnancy can decrease the risk for urinary incontinence and may reduce the symptoms of existing urinary incontinence in pregnant women(13,14). If you had a high BMI ( >30) before pregnancy, are over 35 years old, experience coughing, or have a family history of incontinence, it is worth considering adding specific pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy. A general approach is to do 3 sets of 8 repetitions of Kegels, 2 times a day. Pelvic floor muscle training can also be part of your existing workout, like in some of the prenatal workouts in the adidas Training app.Important:When experiencing pain or heaviness in the pelvic area, always consult your healthcare provider before starting an exercise plan on your own.Breathing During Pregnancy ExerciseBreathing is an important part of core stabilization, as it regulates the pressure inside your abdomen. This is even more important during pregnancy, as the growing belly presents an even bigger challenge. It pushes up your diaphragm and restricts its movement. What to focus on during pregnancy breathing exercises Work on rib cage mobility and diaphragm expansion to practice the 360 breathing pattern, where the whole torso expands in all directions, instead of directing the breath only to the upper chest or pushing the belly out. Pregnancy yoga is a great way to get in touch with your breathing. Try the Yoga Inspired Mobility workout or practice for a few minutes every day using exercises such as Side Lying Breathing, Kneeling 360 Breathing, all available in the adidas Training app.Inhale: feel the side and back ribs expand (instead of inhaling into the upper chest and shoulders), relax the pelvic floor and let it “fill with air”.Exhale: feel the pelvic floor move back up and in as the abdomen and rib cage deflateMatch the exhale phase to higher efforts during exercise; avoid holding your breath!Start to practice engaging your deep core muscles (especially m. transversus abdominis), for a couple of minutes each day. This will be especially useful to rebuild core strength postpartum. By adding a pelvic floor contraction to your exhale, you can try to feel your lower abs gently pulling in. If you stand in front of a mirror you should see your belly pull in, while the belly button should ideally not move up. Make sure to relax and inhale fully (releasing the pelvic floor) before each repetition. Try to let the pelvic floor relax naturally as you inhale, and then feel it contract, activate and lift back up as you exhale. Contracting the muscles with more intensity is not better; this is an exercise in awareness.Posture and AlignmentThe weight of your growing belly pulls you forward, which you adapt to and compensate for with your posture. Working on body awareness can help you notice and improve your posture in exercise and in daily life. That way you can build muscles for better alignment, enabling you to distribute the load more equally. It’s also more comfortable in the long term.Posture tips for exercise and daily lifeWhen getting up from a lying position or relaxed sitting on a couch, always roll to your side first and then get up by supporting yourself with your arm.During exercise, keep your chin tucked and ribs aligned over your hips.Check your alignment as often as you can, try to align your ribs over hips, pull your chin back, and use your glutes for support instead of locking your knees.9. Adjust the Workouts to Your TrimesterKeep in mind:Embrace the changes and keep adjusting to what your body is capable of at the moment. These adjustments aren’t permanent, but you don’t want to push too hard and possibly cause permanent issues.Can you lie on your back to exercise while pregnant? Lying on your back for longer periods of time carries some risk, once the weight of the belly is heavy enough to press down on the venous system/blood flow. Exercise promotes blood flow, which is why supine exercise is different from just lying down; it is still safe in most cases. Check with your doctor or midwife if you are unsure. Monitor for dizziness or other uncomfortable feelings. Using pillows under your back to lift up your upper body (at least 15 degrees) will reduce any risks.(15)Can you do Squats?If you don’t have any heaviness or feeling of bearing down in the pelvic floor, you can keep doing squats throughout your pregnancy. Adjust the depth and width of your stance for your comfort. Make sure not to hold your breath. What about abdominal muscle exercises? Exercises that place extra load on the front abs, such as Planks, Sit Ups, Push Ups, Mountain Climbers, Leg Raises will become uncomfortable at some point during your pregnancy. That’s when it’s time to work your core in other ways, especially through breathing and stabilization. Monitor your body for any signs of bulging/doming on the midline of your abs and modify the exercise or skip it. See more under 2nd-trimester tips.First TrimesterFatigue and nausea might increase. Adjust the workout volume, and accept that you have to cut down for now to avoid pushing yourself.Your weight might quickly start to change and you might get hungrier. Pay attention to whether you are experiencing uncomfortable feelings of guilt related to food and trying to compensate with exercise. If this persists, consider working on mindfulness in your relationship with food and your body, seeking help if needed.When tired and in doubt, sleep instead of working out. In most cases, you’ll have more energy during the 2nd trimester.Practicing breathing and connecting the breath to the pelvic floor will pay off in the future, especially during postpartum recovery (see Exercise Tips above). Consider focusing more on the upper body and glute strength to support the upcoming postural changes and loads (growing belly and breast size). You can find lots of prenatal exercise ideas in the adidas Training app. Second TrimesterAs your belly starts to grow, it’s time to watch out for bearing down. This is the sensation of pushing down on your pelvic floor when you need extra support (similar to how you might strain when having a bowel movement). It can be a compensatory strategy to handle the additional pressure. When you engage your abs, the belly should slightly draw in, without a sensation of pushing down on the pelvic floor. If not, modify and/or stop the exercise. Look for a coach or physical therapist who can teach you better strategies to handle the load in person.Are you starting to feel a pulling sensation when tightening your abs? Does the midline on your abs start to come up under effort, creating a doming/bulging look? The diastasis rectus abdominis, a separation of the abdominal muscles, occurs naturally as the belly grows. Most exercises that work the front abs might become uncomfortable in the late second and third trimesters. That’s when they should be replaced with an easier version (that you can still control without bearing down or holding your breath) or avoided entirely.Practice engaging deep core muscles instead with exercises such as Breathing Leg Pointers, Quadruped Tuck, Heel Slides, and many more you can find in the adidas Training app. The home prenatal workouts featured in the app are designed to minimize the front loading.Third TrimesterPosture and movement strategies keep changing as the belly grows and might aggravate existing pain points or create new pain. Common problems in pregnancy are pubic symphysis pain, located on your pubic bone; a feeling of heaviness in the pelvic floor; lower or upper back pain. Monitor yourself for changes and types of pain and consult your doctor. Modify and adjust exercises accordingly. For pubic bone pain avoid single-leg exercises (and other asymmetric exercises) and narrow your squat stance. When it comes to heaviness in the pelvic floor, scale down the movements (avoid weights, adjust depth and stance for lower body exercises) and intensity. For chronic lower and upper back pain, try mobility flows such as Yoga Inspired Mobility in the adidas Training app. Remember to consult your doctor before starting a pregnancy exercise program, especially when feeling pain or discomfort.Stability starts to be affected, so make sure you find your balance before starting any exercise move; this is especially important as the belly gets bigger.Breathing gets harder each day – work on rib mobility and maintaining a full, 360-degree breathing pattern, with side and back expansion of the ribs and the connection to the pelvic floor. You can include an exercise such as Kneeling 360 Breathing from the adidas Training app to your daily routine, if even for just 5 minutes.Pay special attention to signs of pelvic floor dysfunction such as baby feeling very low, difficulty starting urination, evacuating bowels, urine leakage during exercise, or – check with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and modify your workouts to avoid anything that causes symptoms.Reduce walking times if long walks start to cause discomfort, primarily in the pelvic or lower back area. Plan some rest after workouts whenever possible.When strength exercises feel uncomfortable, opt for more seated and side-lying exercises, such as the Short Seated Stretching and the Yoga Inspired Mobility in the adidas Training app.It gets harder to stay hydrated; make sure you drink water throughout the day, especially when you work out outdoors or sweat.Pregnancy Exercise BenefitsResearch has shown that regular exercise is not only good for the expectant mother but the child as a fetus and into childhood, too.(16) If you need some extra motivation to start, here are the key benefits of prenatal exercise.Exercise in pregnancy…eases common pregnancy-related problems like backache, posture issues, and constipationreduces your risk of gestational diabetesincreases the supply of oxygen for you and your childstrengthens your cardiovascular system, making you feel fitter and more resilient, which might also help you handle the strain of giving birthmight help prevent blood clots and varicose veinscould improve the quality of your sleepenhances your general sense of well-being and helps with mood swings and stressTakeawayAt first it may seem at first like exercising during the prenatal period is really complicated. However, your body will tell you a lot of important information to guide you.Pregnancy is an opportunity to learn what it really means to “listen to your body”. You might encounter roadblocks, but if you don’t give up, you will also discover new strategies for self-care and awareness, which will also be useful postpartum.Remember, staying active throughout your pregnancy benefits both you and the baby.*** More

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    When to Run Before or After a Workout Based on Goals

    Running before or after workouts has a drastic effect on training effectiveness. Running before a strength workout can compromise strength training gains or cause injury. On the other hand, doing a strength workout before running could cause running form to deteriorate, which can also lead to injury or compromise strength training gains.Athletes only have so much time. Sometimes that means doing cardio workouts (like running) and strength workouts (like lifting weights or bodyweight workouts) on the same day. Find out if it’s better to run before or after workouts and how to maximize same-day training benefits.The Interference EffectThe interference effect is a physiological phenomenon that states that cardio or endurance exercise (like running and cycling) interferes with the cellular adaptions elicited via strength training (namely, muscle size and overall strength).[1, 2] However, it also states that strength training does not appear to necessarily adversely affect endurance adaptations.[3]The keyword here is: necessarily. More on that later on.Running Before or After Workouts Depends on Workout GoalsAthletes engaging in concurrent strength training and running need to prioritize goals[4]. This should happen on an individual workout basis as well as overall athletic goals. For example, someone looking to build muscle mass and overall strength must concede that cardio training will–to some extent–inhibit strength gains. On the other hand, a runner is unlikely to be a very successful bodybuilder.Good to rememberAt some level maximum strength and endurance are on opposite ends of the physiological spectrum.Athletes considering strength training and cardio training need to decide which is more important for their athletic development: muscle mass or endurance. This is not to say that strength-based athletes should stop all cardio. Likewise, endurance athletes like runners should do some strength training.The careful blending of strength and endurance training is what is known as concurrent training. Strength training–such as with weights or bodyweight–is an important component of endurance performance. Sports like running and cycling do not stress all the necessary muscles in the body. For example, simply running or cycling can leave one with hip, lower back pain and upper body issues due to underdeveloped muscles. In short, most athletes should do a bit of strength training and a bit of cardio. The ideal blend of each will depend on the athlete’s goals: muscle mass or endurance.Run Before or After Workout as a Strength-Focused AthletesAthletes whose primary goal is to build muscle and overall strength should try to avoid doing cardio and strength training on the same day. If this cannot be avoided, strength-focused athletes should do their cardio workouts after strength training. This will help minimize the interference effect (i.e., the body will prioritize strength adaptations over endurance adaptations).How long should cardio workouts take place after strength workouts? The longer the better. At least six to nine hours is ideal. Spacing strength and cardio workouts as far apart as possible will help maximize strength adaptations. Again, if pure strength is the primary goal, strongly consider doing cardio and strength workouts on entirely different days. Don’t do a hard strength workout and a hard (e.g., HIIT) running workout on the same day. Alternating Lower-Body and Upper-Body Same Day WorkoutsCardio exercises like running and cycling are lower-body dominant. Performing upper-body workouts on the same day as running will have no meaningful effect on the strength workout. However, performing lower-body strength workouts shortly after a running workout will likely lead to diminished strength gains.It follows that doing lower-body strength workouts should then only take place on non-running days.Alternating workouts with upper-body strength days during running days and lower-body strength workouts on non-running days will help minimize or even eliminate the interference effect. The only caveat to this is if the athlete can handle the higher training load. This means having an optimized nutrition plan (here’s the 9 best foods for runners and the 9 best foods to build muscle), resting and being sensitive to their body’s injury or overtraining signals. Follow along with this stretching workout to kickstart the recovery process: Running Before or After Workout as a RunnerStrength training could be a key component to unlocking running performance. It may be the only way advanced runners can even achieve further progress. Beginner runners benefit from strength training by working muscles that help promote running economy and efficiency, which will ward off injury and promote total body fitness. If running (or any endurance activity, such as cycling) is a primary goal, do cardio after strength training. However, if the cardio session will be shorter and low intensity (like a simple endurance run of 30-90 minutes), doing high-repetition, low-weight or bodyweight strength training  AFTER running can help build muscular endurance and improve running stamina.Muscular endurance is different than absolute strength. Whereas pure strength is about how much force one can produce quickly (e.g., during a squat), muscular endurance is about training muscles to resist fatigue over long periods of time. One can easily see how muscular endurance is beneficial to runners: running longer distances like half-marathons, marathons and even ultramarathons. Muscular endurance will allow runners to retain their running form longer, which means not only maintaining running economy for longer but also decreasing the risk of running-related injuries.Sound worth it? Here’s how to do it:Do an easy run. Try to avoid running hills. Don’t do intervals. Just do a basic endurance-paced run anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes. It should feel almost boring.After the run and while the body is still warmed up, do a strength training session that focuses on high repetitions and low (if any) weight. Repetition ranges should be 20 to 30 per set. Cool down with light jogging.Combining running and strength training back to back is a serious session. Make sure to fuel properly before, during and after (like with a hot cocoa recovery drink). Don’t finish the workout starving. The recovery demands from this type of training are huge–but so are the benefits. Don’t do these big sessions every day–twice a week is plenty and should likely be followed by a full recovery day or an easy run (for advanced athletes).Running Before or After a Workout if the goal is to Lose WeightIt is often recommended to do strength training before running to empty carbohydrate stores. The idea is to force the body to get its energy primarily from fat rather than carbs during the run. However, the problem with this strategy is that it is very difficult to finish a long-distance run on empty carbohydrate stores. While it is true that a much higher percentage of fat is burned for energy, the calorie burn, on the other hand, is relatively low because of the low intensity or low duration of the workout. On top of that, perceived exertion of the workout will be much greater when continuing to workout with depleted glycogen stores. This can cause athletes to prematurely quit the workout; therefore, reducing maximal calorie expenditure. Additionally, athletes who choose to work out this way will finish workouts extremely hungry. This can lead athletes to massively overeat after a very tough workout, which will likely result in weight gain and developing unhealthy nutrition habits.If weight loss is a goal, a negative energy balance is key: If one burns more calories than they consume, they will lose weight. In the end, what matters is how many calories are burned in total through the workout. Spread your workouts out over several days. That way one can train at a high intensity and burn a lot of calories, and at the same time give the body the time it needs to recover properly before the next workout.Running Before or After a Workout if the Goal is to Improve Overall FitnessIn this case, basically do cardio and strength training in whichever order. Still define a specific training goal for each session. Just be careful about doing too much and getting injured. Start slow, add a little bit of training each week, take a day off if aches and pains start to creep up. Once the gains stop coming, consider reexamining training structure to focus on more specific goals. Try this workout after a run for a great cardio and strength session This workout focuses on neglected leg muscles and glute strength (i.e., a firmer butt). It’ll also help improve posture. Learn and do the following movements: Curtsy lunge, kneel & stand, side lunges, single-leg deadlift and wall sits.In general, avoid doing two workouts back-to-back. Spacing running and strength workouts far apart will allow the body sufficient time to adapt and recover before the next session. If running before or after a workout is the only option, follow the training schedule recommendations above to elicit maximal adaptations. If all of that is too complicated and the goal is to just get fit, do whatever is most convenient.Check out the following video for a detailed explanation of setting up a your own training schedule for best results: *** More

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    11 Muscle Building Tips for Huge Gains

    These 11 muscle building tips can help beginner athletes get started with their muscle building journey. These muscle growth methods can also enable advanced athletes whose muscle growth has plateaued. Muscle building is a complex physiological process that takes significant time and commitment. At the same time, there is a lot of wrong information about building muscle best. Cut through the noise with these 11 muscle building tips to start building bigger muscles today!SummaryMuscle building tips from workout structure (like sets and reps) to how much protein to include in a muscle building diet. Clever ways to build muscle and reduce total workout time with muscle building tips on supersets and pushing to failure. Learn how to increase lean muscle mass ratio.Muscle Building Tip 1: How much weight is best for building muscle?Numerous studies have shown that a weight you can lift a maximum of 8-12 times produces the most significant gains in muscle size[1, 2]. Depending on the exercise and your fitness level, this is equivalent to 60-80% of your one-rep max (the maximum amount of weight you can lift in a single repetition).Many people mistakenly think that the only way to trigger muscle growth is by lifting heavy weights in a gym.You can build bigger butt muscles, a strong core, a massive chest and even a super strong back with bodyweight exercises (or resistance band exercises) you can do at home or wherever you are!Heavy weights are only necessary if you want to have a bodybuilder’s physique. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean having the type of strength athletes need to compete, which translates to everyday health and fitness.Fact:Muscle growth is mainly due to an increase in the size and not the number of muscle fibers.Muscle Building Tip 2: How many sets per exercise are right for you? Single vs. multiple set trainingA set is the number of times you complete a certain movement (reps) and its recovery period. For example, 3×8 push-ups would be 3 sets of 8 push-ups each. The rest interval is usually 1-3 minutes between sets (more on that below).The optimal number of sets is a hot topic in the strength training world.There are big differences here depending on your fitness level.In the first weeks, novices and beginners show the same gains with single set training as they do with multiple set training.More advanced athletes achieve significantly better results with multiple set training because the training stimulus with single set training is too low to stress the muscles to adapt. Therefore, multiple set training is recommended in this case.Beginners should stick to two or three sets, whereas more advanced strength trainers can do 3-5 or more sets.Good to knowPerform as many reps and sets as you can before your form or technique fails. Continuing to push even though your form has collapsed can lead to injury. Always be in control of your movements and respect the limits of your body and fitness level. One of the biggest challenges is knowing when enough is enough, and this comes with many years (decades) of practice. Skip straight to Muscle Building Tip 7 to learn more about pushing to failure.Muscle Building Tip 3: Reps Per SetHow many repetitions (reps) per set depends on the specific exercise and fitness goals. For example, it would be reasonable to do 30-60 jumping jacks; however, that would be far too many push-ups for most people.Stick to a rep range of 6-12 repetitions of the same exercise if the focus is on building muscle. Once that many reps of an exercise is possible with good form, go all the way to 20 reps for exercises like push-ups, rows, squats, etc. Once 20 reps with good technique are doable, add another set and drop the reps back down to 6-8 reps per set. Add more reps again once you can complete all sets with good form.Muscle Building Tip 4: Rest Between SetsRest between 90 seconds and 3 minutes between individual sets.Add an aerobic component to the workout or if short on time by doing circuit training or supersets[3]. Circuit training means skipping the recovery intervals and going straight into the next exercise. This method of training works the cardiovascular system more than strength training alone.On the other hand, basic supersets involve doing exercises that oppose the same muscle or muscle group—for example, doing a set of push-ups and then going straight into a set of supermans. The two exercises oppose the same muscle group (think pushing versus pulling movements). This means skipping the recovery interval while still pushing hard in each exercise. Check out the below videos to see how push-ups and supermans work opposing muscle groups (known as an antagonist superset):  Be careful with supersets because they can leave you with DOMS for days because they work muscles to the limit! Make sure you understand the benefits of super-compensation and the difference between overtraining.Important:Make sure you perform all the exercises at a steady pace and with proper form.Muscle Building Tip 5: How many times a week for you do strength training?Soreness related to strength training is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It is vital to return or begin strength training very conservatively. Aim for the minimum amount of reps and sets if one hasn’t strength trained in a while (or ever). DOMS may occur one to two days after the initial strength training session. Even if soreness persists, another strength training session two to three days later can help alleviate DOMS and is a good idea for experienced athletes. Athletes who have never strength trained before should do one day of strength training their first week, then try adding a day the next week and see how their body reacts.RememberBuilding muscle is a long-term process. Rushing muscle building will lead to injury eventually, which will cause serious setbacks. Trust in the process, go slow and be patient. Always leave one or two reps “on the table.” When in doubt, leave it out.For beginners, two strength sessions a week is enough. An all-around program that works all the major muscle groups is best. These are often called “fully-body workouts.” Some examples of full-body workouts in adidas Training are: Full Body with Weights (use dumbbells or water bottles as weights), 8-Minute Fully Body Workout, 10-Minute Tabata HIIT, and so many more! More advanced strength trainers can work out three to four times per week.Split training is a good way to make sure there is enough time for muscle recovery. Each major muscle group will work twice a week if you do a two-body-part split four days a week. The most common types of split training are dividing your workout into upper and lower body or push and pull exercises.Advanced athletes can consider building their workouts with the adidas Training Workout Creator. This feature enables athletes to choose specific muscle groups, difficulty, workout duration and equipment. A common way to use this feature to split workouts would be to target legs and lower body one day of the week, then target arms and upper body the next day, then go back to lower body. This type of training is only for advanced athletes because it adds significant training stress, which is needed to promote further muscle growth due to the principle of progressive overload[4].Muscle Building Tip 6: How many weeks to see visible results?When starting strength training, strength increases, but your muscles won’t look any bigger.This is because the strength gains at the beginning are due to improved intra- and intermuscular coordination (improved activation and interaction between muscles). Training blocks should last between eight and twelve weeks, including a recovery week every third or fourth week depending on experience level and injury propensity.Muscle growth requires continuous additional training stimulus. Muscle Building Tip 7: Push Muscles to Failure Pushing to failure sounds dangerous (and it can be). Pushing muscles to failure is also a great way to induce muscle growth. Pushing to failure means one could not complete another rep with good technique. If one completes that final rep with poor technique, they have pushed past failure, which can quickly lead to injury at worst and is counterproductive at best.An excellent way to push to failure for bodyweight exercises is simply doing as many reps of an exercise until technique suffers. For example, do as many push-ups as possible and stop when hips and/or shoulders sag towards the ground. Rest for a minute, then do another set and note down how many reps are possible. Try to do more reps and/or sets in the next workout to build muscle. The key to this tip is to push just until it is almost too much and then stop. It’s never productive to get injured, so be very careful. Beginner athletes should focus on developing perfect technique before attempting this training tip.For example, here are 9 of the most common mistakes for the most common exercises to watch out for when pushing muscles to failure.Muscle Building Tip 8: Cut Cardio (If Muscle Building is the Only Goal)Cardio or aerobic exercise can impact the body’s ability to build muscle. If big muscles are a primary goal, cutting cardio is required. However, beginner athletes will likely realize significant gains fast if they do strength training and cardio workouts. Being able to climb stairs without getting winded is good for overall health! Plus, muscle growth will happen in a functionally natural way. For example, including running workouts will develop important leg muscles and work the cardiovascular system.The bottom lineUnless bodybuilding is a goal or muscle growth has plateaued, include cardio workouts in training.Muscle Building Tip 9: Muscle Building NutritionBuilding muscle requires fueling muscle growth. Cutting calories to lose weight is counterintuitive to building muscle. Additionally, calorie needs will increase as muscle mass increases.Protein Intake for Muscle BuildingProtein is essential for muscle building. Adequate protein intake doesn’t mean cutting out the other macronutrients of carbs and fat. It also doesn’t mean consuming more than 25g of protein an hour (the maximal protein absorption rate for humans). Supplements that have hundreds of grams of protein are a waste of money. Use this protein calculator to quickly and easily figure out how much protein is needed to build muscle. Carb Intake for Muscle BuildingMany people falsely believe that cutting carbs is an excellent way to promote muscle growth. The body prioritizes carbs as its primary fuel source during very intense exercise (like strength training or sprinting through the physiological process known as glycolysis). If the body doesn’t have enough carbs to fuel the exercise, it breaks down protein in muscles and converts protein into glucose to cover the energy expenditure of the training. This has the negative effect of breaking down the very muscles being built!Eat enough carbs to cover the energy cost of the exercise. Find that out using this carb intake calculator.The bottom lineInstead, eat a balanced diet of protein, carbs and fat. Get protein from the diet, not supplements.Muscle Building Tip 10: Lose Weight and Build Lean Muscle MassIt is possible to use strength training to increase the ratio of lean muscle mass while losing weight [5]. Muscle mass may not increase (and may even decrease) during weight loss. However, increasing protein intake and maintaining strength training while cutting carbs and fat can help one maintain or increase their ratio of lean muscle mass. Think of it like this: if total bodyweight drops but muscle mass stays the same, the ratio of muscle to body weight has increased despite muscles not growing. In other words, lean muscle mass has increased.Muscle Building Tip 11: The Role of RestMuscle doesn’t get built during workouts: they break down. Muscle grows during rest because rest allows the body to repair broken muscle tissue stronger than before. Get eight to nine hours of sleep every night, especially during heavy training. Napping is also critical for serious muscle growth.ConclusionThe most important thing for effectively building muscle (as well as for every training goal in general) is that you continue to work out regularly.If you stay consistent, all the hard work will pay off and you are guaranteed to see visible results.Are you ready to get in shape and build strength? Get the adidas Training app and join a challenge!*** More