How Yoga Can Complement Weight Training

Disclaimer – I’m probably wrong about some of this. Yoga peeps – please feel free to correct or add to what I’ve written in the comments section.

Last Thursday, my girlfriend dragged me to a yoga session against my will. Of course, this now makes me an expert on all things yoga, being that I’ve now attended a session. I kid, I kid. I did, however, pay very close attention to the instructor and the session. While I don’t know the names of most of the poses, I made quite a few observations. Here they are, in no order of importance:

  • I was lucky to have attended a class with an advanced instructor, which makes a big difference in my opinion. To my surprise, the instructor actually had a great knowledge of biomechanics, and her cues were fantastic.
  • One of the primary purposes of yoga is to relax, yet many beginners fail to relax. Perhaps they’re self-conscious of their flexibility levels, or they’re overly-competitive, and so they overdo it. This defeats the purpose. Twelve years ago, Pavel Tstsouline wrote an excellent book titled, Relax into Stretch. It focused on the need to relax while stretching in order to reap maximal benefits in flexibility. Good instructors are aware of this – they’ll quickly notice overexertion and modify poses to suit the individual.
  • All poses can easily be modified for novices.
  • Yoga sessions spend a significant percentage of time in the top push-up position. This builds excellent scapular stability (serratus anterior, trapezuis, etc.), which provides an important foundation for strength training. We need this stability for upper body pressing and pulling movements.
  • Some of the transitions in yoga move the practitioner into a narrow-width push-up position, which is very challenging for the triceps, pecs, and anterior delts. See the biomechanical information on push-ups in the chart below (this is from an SCJ article published last year by Contreras et al):

The Biomechanics of the Push-Up: Implications for Resistance Training ProgramsContreras et al. 2012

  • Yoga sessions involve a considerable amount of poses that stretch and activate the hip musculature at long muscle lengths. From hip flexors, to hammies, to adductors, to hip rotators, yoga will keep hip flexibility solid, which is another excellent foundational feature for weight training.
  • Yoga sessions also involve plenty of stretches for the shoulder musculature – shoulder flexion, extension, and internal rotation specifically, which are great for resistance training.
  • Yoga provides a decent core stability challenge to the abdominals, obliques, and glutes. Of course, the muscles won’t get activated like they do during ab wheel rollouts or heavy hip thrusts, but various poses will keep the core muscles activated, which will prevent age-related atrophy.
  • Yoga poses keep the spine flexible. From spinal flexion, to extension, to lateral flexion, to rotation, you’ll get all of it in yoga. It’s important to know that increases in spinal flexibility doesn’t prevent low back pain. However, it will prevent age-related losses in flexibility which I feel is important, as long as core strength accompanies it.
  • For many individuals, these spinal stretches are therapeutic. However, certain individuals may find some poses to be problematic. For example, the flexion intolerant person might not find the child’s pose to be very fun, and the extension intolerant person might not find the cobra pose to be very fun. Again, these poses can be modified and/or omitted depending on the individual.

  • If done right, some of the poses are incredible thoracic-spine mobility drills. This is key for optimal shoulder health. But you have to understand how to open up the chest and not hinge solely at the lumbar spine.
  • Many meatheads like me will find many of the poses to be incredibly challenging. Our thick muscles produce a lot of passive stiffness, and we’re not used to going into various ROMs (or holding those ROMs isometrically for that matter). Meatheads need to be okay with sitting some poses out or modifying them to suit our fitness levels – the sessions need to be relaxing!
  • Poses that require considerable hamstring flexibility can be modified by bending the knees. This is important as it allows individuals to anteriorly tilt the pelvis and keep the proper lumbar arch, which prevents them from going into lumbar flexion. You see a lot of low back rounding during poses such as downward facing dog, so the bent knee position is a much better strategy for the person who hasn’t yet built up sufficient hamstring flexibility. You still get a great hamstring stretch, but you also build good core stability mechanics.
  • Yoga is very relaxing if done properly, which can lead to a variety of health benefits including decreased anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • My class contained a deep breathing component at the end which was fantastic. This can help restore balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
  • The instructor would walk around the room and place her hands on the practitioners from time to time – just a gentle touch or push in a certain place to increase the stretch or correct the form. She also had a very soothing voice. These attributes also have therapeutic effects and add to the restorative capacity of yoga in my opinion.

Summary of How Yoga Benefits Weight Training

Yoga promotes flexibility and mobility, which provide an important base in weight training. In S&C, usually we have to prescribe mobility drills for the hips and t-spine with clients – yoga takes care of this over time, which leaves more time to focus on skill-work in the weight room. Yoga also promotes decent levels of stability in the shoulders and hips (not nearly as much as you seen with weight training, but decent nevertheless). Yoga is incredible for mental health, relaxation, and stress-relief.

In these regards, yoga complements weight training. Theoretically, yoga could increase recuperative ability, but only if the intensity of the session is kept under control. Too many challenging poses could do the opposite.

Transitioning from Yoga to Weight Training

I’ve trained a handful of experienced yoga practitioners who were new to strength training. The first thing they need to learn is how to speed up their tempo. Yoga is very controlled and slow. In weight training, you want to train a bit more explosively as this increases muscle activation.

The typical yoga practitioner will be competent at various bridging, push-up, and core stability exercises. They will not be limited by flexibility/mobility in pretty much any exercise, which is a huge plus. However, their motor control will be a bit off. For example, they’ll likely be inclined to hyperextend the spine during bridging and deadlifting movements. It is imperative that they learn how to stabilize the spine and move through the hips.

They’ll have strong shoulders and triceps compared to sedentary individuals, they’ll be in much better physical condition than a sedentary beginner, and they’ll have the raw materials to learn every single functional movement pattern properly. However, as previously mentioned, they’ll need to reprogram their movement patterns by learning them how to stabilize various joints while moving through other joints.

Yoga will not shape the glutes like weight training (or any other muscles for that matter), yoga won’t provide the metabolic kick that weight training does, and yoga won’t maximize strength, power, speed, hypertrophy, or endurance. Yoga can be advanced through more challenging progressions, but not like in weight training where heavy weights and progressive overload can be employed. However, yoga is still a highly valuable form of physical fitness with a myriad of benefits, and it’s loved and enjoyed by millions worldwide.

Personal trainers, strength coaches, and physical therapists need not fear their athletes and clients performing yoga as long as it’s conducted properly.

Wickham agrees: “Your body doesn’t care how long you’ve been working out. If your shoulder has limited range-of-motion and you keep jamming it every time you perform a pushup, bench press, or snatch, it’s eventually going to push back by way of injury.”

How will mobility really help?

There are two reasons to do mobility work: to prevent getting injured and to get stronger. We know, you only want to hear about the latter—but nothing will put the hurt on your gains like an impingement or strain that prevents you from lifting in the first place.

“Inadequate mobility and stability lead to about 90% of the injuries that come into our physical therapy practice,” says Wickham. Of course, no one cares about their injury risk until one seemingly typical lift goes awry in the matter of a few seconds. But you should. Just 15 minutes of mobility warmup work every day can prevent a devastating injury—torn rotator cuff, slipped disc—that’ll keep you out of the gym (and in a lot of pain) for months.

How will mobility work help? Consider the deadlift: To achieve optimal deadlift position, you need flexible hips and mobility in several other joints and muscles. (Tight hamstrings, for example, will limit your hip motion.) When you have inflexible hips or hamstrings, neighboring joints that can’t handle so much weight at that angle—like, say, your vulnerable lower back—will have to pick up some of the strain.

A day later, that extra lower-back work may just feel like a little soreness in your lumbar spine. But keep lifting like that, and chances are pretty high you’ll eventually pay the price—whether from another tight deadlift or just bending down to lift your kid off the floor.

If you do mobility work regularly, though, you improve that range-of-motion—looser hips, more flexible hamstrings—and your body can use your powerhouse muscles to muscle that barbell off the floor instead.

Furthermore, limited range-of-motion translates to limited muscle growth. (Looking at you, Mr. Load-Up-the-Legs-Press-and-Move-It-an-Inch.) One study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that, compared to 12 weeks of shallow squats, doing deep squats built more thigh muscle, improved knee extension and flexion, and boosted squat-jump power.

“Having optimal mobility and movement lets you achieve better positions, which will allow you to be more efficient in your lifts or movements, which will translate to getting stronger and faster,” Wickham says.

How to do mobility right

Don’t think of mobility as a specific type of workout, but rather as a general athletic skill, like strength or power or speed, Holder says.

And as with building strength or speed, you need to build mobility with multiple techniques.

At the bare minimum, Holder suggests a warmup routine with three components:

  • Myofascial work like foam rolling or ball rolling,
  • Controlled dynamic stretches,
  • Bodyweight movements, like the squat or lunge.

Most important: move slowly and deliberately. Controlled dynamic stretching will increase joint range-of-motion and enhance muscle power better than both static stretching (stretch and hold) and ballistic stretching (stretch and bounce), according to an October 2017 study published in Sports Medicine.

Second, base your warmup on your workout. Before lower-body workouts, do hip circles, legs swings, and Buddha squat holds to open up the musculature around your hips, quads, hamstrings, calves, and ankles. Before upper-body workouts, do scarecrows and shoulder circles to increase range-of-motion in the shoulders (specifically the rotator cuff).

Matching your warmup with your workout will not only activate the muscles you’re focusing on, but also cement proper joint alignment and muscle activation in your brain, Holder adds.

In addition to pre-workout mobility, incorporate functional movements into your daily workouts. Trade your typical cardio for swimming or rowing to improve upper-body range-of-motion. Work moves like bear crawls or duck walks into your strength sessions, or try this bodyweight routine to improve mobility and athleticism.

Lastly, for serious range-of-motion gains, turn active recovery day into a low-intensity mobility day. Take a yoga class or do one of your warmup routines that focuses on your trouble areas, like tight shoulders or hamstrings, Holder suggests.

Get started with Holder’s basic movement warmup: the five best stretches to open your hips before lifting and the ultimate shoulders warmup. When you’re ready to get seriously mobile, check out the Movement Vault, Wickham’s database of the most effective techniques to increase range-of-motion.

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I’ve been loving the feel-good factor of weight training. I also notice a pre-workout adrenaline that comes beforehand, which motivates me even more. I’ve been doing weight training at home for nearly 2 months now (yes, still relatively new.) Here are 7 reasons why I’m hooked. These are based on my own personal experience and a bit of research:

  1. Bone health: Research has shown that progressive weight training has a positive impact on bone density. Resistance training increases bone density and therefore can decrease the chances of developing osteoporosis later on in life. “Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show it can even build bone. This is tremendously useful to help offset age-related declines in bone mass. Activities that put stress on bones can nudge bone-forming cells into action.” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018.)
  2. Raises BMR: It is well documented and backed by studies that the more muscles you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, so the more calories you’ll burn over the course of the day. Weight training enables a build up, to a larger degree, of lean muscle mass, which then basically serves as a calorie-burning powerhouse in the body.
  3. Fun and diverse exercise: There are practically endless exercises I can do; so I’ll never get bored.
  4. Builds strength & balance: Every time I work out with weights, I become stronger and so next time I’ll be able to lift more which is both incredibly satisfying and motivating. Strength also builds balance, and so practicing some form of strength will help to improve balance.
  5. Has an element of cardio: Weight lifting can be considered an anaerobic exercise, i.e short, intense activity that has you working to the max, and can’t be sustained for long. Even more so with little rest in between, keeping the heart rate elevated. However, you must make sure you’re at a sufficient fitness level to be able to handle cardio weight training. Just remember, aerobic cardio training (running, swimming, cycling…) has a bigger positive influence on cardiovascular health, since your heart and lungs work harder for longer when you do it. So then why not incorporate both? Note: If your primary concern is shedding fat, anaerobic exercise is the way to go.
  6. Awesome couple-workout: I can get my fit on with my partner – we get to spend time together while doubling up on a healthy activity that we both enjoy and encourage each other to do. Exercising together provides an opportunity to create such connection, benefiting both your health and your relationship.
  7. Confidence boost: When you start out you’ll feel as weak as a kitten. Don’t worry, everyone is. Then you set yourself a goal and step by step, every day, gradually improving until, all of a sudden, you’re doing things that a few months ago seemed impossible. That gives a massive boost in confidence.

Ladies, remember also that we do not have high enough testosterone levels naturally to develop the same amount of musculature as males. Therefore, you won’t ‘bulk-up’, as is often thought to be the case.

How weight training complements my yoga routine

Weight training 4 times per week has been a great complement to my daily yoga routine. Bear in mind that yoga also promotes strength training, as when you do yoga poses, you’re putting your body in positions and orientations that you ultimately have to support using your muscles. So, you are essentially lifting weights! However, with yoga, you are limited to your own body weight, thus it might not be enough if your purpose is to build muscle.

Yoga asana practice can reduce your risk of injury and condition your body to perform better at things you have to do every day: walk, sit, twist, bend, and lift groceries. Yoga moves your body in the ways it was designed to move to help ensure that it keeps functioning properly. For example, when doing yoga you use both large and small muscles and move in many directions (twisting, arching, etc.), not just back and forth on a one-dimensional plane, as in the forward-back motion of a bicep curl. Additionally, yoga tones muscles all over your body, in balance with each other. Weight training exercises typically isolate and flex one muscle or muscle group at a time. What’s more, yoga increases muscle endurance because you typically hold any given pose for a period of time and repeat it several times during a yoga workout. So combining both makes a lot of sense to me.

My conclusion: Many studies have shown that the more variety in your workout routine, the faster you’ll see results. And the more variety, the more fun! Yoga is always going to be a part of my life and is great at building natural strength, for someone looking to develop muscle and shift excess fat, weight training is worth adding to your exercise routine. And, in my case, lifting weights has only improved my yoga poses.

I’ve tried lots of physical activities, but none of them can match the way I feel calm and peaceful after a yoga workout. The primary reason I do yoga is because of the way it nourishes BOTH the body and the mind and helps me listen to that quiet voice inside my head. No other form of activity will replace this, however, weight training has now proven to complement it very well on many levels. Not only do I feel physically and mentally stronger and more energised, my physique is quickly becoming a lot more defined, and I love the post-workout high. Win, win!

Tips and considerations:

Each person has a different body type, physical condition, goal, recovery time, time constraints, etc. What worked for me may not work for you. And maybe a combination of the two isn’t for you after all. Gradually implement the other into your routine and see how your body reacts to it.

Please, please always warm up, stretch and don’t start off too heavy.

Using improper form and technique during resistance training won’t yield any beneficial results – and may even lead to an injury. Work on your form and go slow.

Listen to your body. You will most likely feel sore after lifting weights (I rarely do, perhaps that’s down to the yoga), don’t ever let that be a reason to stop working out. However, if you’re injured, don’t work through the pain.

For a total body workout, it is generally recommended to lift weights for 20 minutes to 30 minutes three days a week, giving your muscles time to recover between workouts. Another important tip I learnt recently: Working the same body parts on consecutive days and over and over can lead to overuse injuries… Always vary your workout.

Do your own research, I’ve done mine but I am no expert in this field. Consult an expert if you are unsure and new to this.

Finally, get your yoga on as well! The benefits are endless and yoga is for everyone.

Stay strong!

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You’ve heard it said: cross-training can sometimes be as important as running itself. Cross-training allows for better overall fitness by helping prevent injury, and exercising muscles that are neglected during your regular running routine. Take a look at this list of our favorite cross-training activities to add to your workout repertoire!

Cycling is a great way to give your leg muscles an aerobic workout without the impact that comes with running.
Calories burned: 400-740 per hour at a moderate speed

Image via Zach Dischner


Not only will a hike mix it up, but it can help improve your cardio fitness and muscle strength.
Calories burned: 450-600 per hour

Image via Moyan Brenn

Weight Training

Lifting weights helps you target the muscles that you don’t use while running, and can actually help improve your “running economy.”
Calories burned: varies greatly depending on the weights used

Image via slgckgc

Swimming engages your core and helps work your upper body, all while giving your joints a rest.
Calories burned: 400-550 per hour

Image via Jim Bahn


Yoga helps your flexibility, gives you a mental break, and allows you to stretch your muscles that might be tight from running.
Calories burned: 175-350 calories per hour

Image via k4dordy


Using the elliptical is a great option for low-impact aerobic activity. Plus, elliptical machines engage both the upper and lower body, something that running does not do.
Calories burned: 540-750 per hour at a moderate pace and resistance


Walking uses the same muscle groups as running, but at a lower intensity that will help in active recovery. Make it social by inviting a friend or family member to take a walk with you.
Calories burned: 177-300 per hour at a leisurely pace

Image via Pedro Ribeiro Simões

An exciting aerobic activity, zumba helps strengthen some of the muscle groups that you use while running — specifically your hip-stabilizers and calves.
Calories burned: 500-650 per hour

Image via Simon Schoeters

Not only is rollerblading fun, it is a great way to build endurance and tone your muscles!
Calories burned: 300-700 calories per hour

Image via RichardBH

While it’s not considered a high intensity activity, kayaking offers a time for your legs to take a break and gives you an opportunity to engage your upper body.
Calories burned: 280-450 per hour

Image via Geert Orye

Try one of these activities this week in place of a running workout. And of course, don’t forget to log your next cross-training workout in Runkeeper!

Feature image via


When you’ve got your eyes on the prize—bigger muscles, a faster marathon, impressive strength, more efficient cycling, or improved athleticism in a sport—it’s easy to feel like you should only focus on the workouts proven to get you there. And therein lies the problem.

“It’s great to be spectacular in a specific activity, sport, or style of training, but we must also take into consideration that our bodies will eventually adapt and become super-efficient at whatever the primary movements involved are,” says Sean Alder, C.S.C.S., a personal trainer and team educator at SOLDIERFIT in Maryland. “We must also understand that the other parts or systems of the body are being neglected, increasing the likelihood for muscle imbalances from overuse or overtraining.”

An easy enough fix: Break out of your routine by cross-training once a week. The change-up will round out your ability without hurting your specialty, while also enhancing your overall results.

Pick one of these outside-your-wheelhouse workouts based on your goals, and get training.

Goal: Hypertrophy

When more mass is your aim, you’re probably combining heavy multi-joint lifts with isolation exercises to target specific muscles, and you’re likely doing two muscle groups a day, hitting each one once a week. What can happen, though, is that the muscles get less adept at working together in functional ways. Plus, because you’re aiming for gains, you may be short-shifting the cardio your heart and lungs crave for fear of burning off essential calories you’re consuming.

Cross-training workout: A fast-paced, high-rep, bodyweight functional circuit

Throwing together a few supersets such as stepups + pushups and alternating lateral lunges + pullups will work your muscles in synergy while getting your heart rate up and boosting your metabolism for improved mobility and lean muscle gains. Think of it as functional strength.

Goal: Running faster

With race day in sight, it’s hard to think you should be doing anything other than running for your workouts. And while long runs, recovery runs, tempo workouts, and speed and hill work are essential to your prep, exclusively running at the expense of other forms of training is an overuse injury waiting to happen.

Cross-training workout: Targeted strength

“We use both legs when we run, but we use them one at a time,” Alder says. “I recommend all runners do single-leg strength work, along with some upper body and core to help make them more efficient.”

Choose legs exercises such as reverse lunges, split squats, or single-leg box squats; upper-body row variations such as single-arm cable rows, bentover rows, and single-arm TRX rows plus pushup progressions (incline, flat, decline); and core work that focuses on anti-rotation and anti-flexion, such as planks (any type), and cable core presses.

Goal: Strength

Good news for you: “As long as there’s good variation in your programming, this is one of the best general ways to stay fit,” Alder says. That’s because strength training works both the muscles and the neuromuscular system responsible for recruiting them to work together to generate optimal force.

Still, Alder says, “we also must make sure we have proper range of motion as well as challenge other areas of our nervous system.”

Cross-training workout: Metabolic training

High-intensity intervals are the ticket for challenging coordination and boosting calorie burn to keep you strong and lean. Alder recommends selecting eight exercises—two for upper body, two for lower, two for core, and two conditioning—and doing a harder-core modified tabata: 23 seconds of work, seven seconds of rest for each move, twice through. Rest for about five minutes, then do the eight moves through once more. Example exercises: sled push, TRX rows, overhead medicine ball slams, and bear crawls.

Goal: Efficient cycling

Whether you’re a Tour de France contender or an indoor-cycling addict, you already know the benefits of purposeful pedaling, from cardio gains to major calorie burn with less joint impact than running. But between the repetitive motion and the not-so-awesome body positioning, you could be in for a world or hurt if long or intense rides are all you do.

Cross-training workout: Stretch sessions

To unfurl tight hips, rounded shoulders, and tight, well, everything, incorporating regular stretching is essential. That could mean a weekly yoga session or a regular date with a foam roller, targeting the hips, glutes, quads, calves, and middle back. Alder’s rolling recommendation: 10 to 15 minutes, three to five days a week.

Goal: Athletic prowess

From recreational soccer to pick-up basketball to MMA fighting or boxing, it’s easy enough to get focused on the games or specific skills needed to participate. While they rightly say that practice makes perfect, too many repetitive motions without support work to condition the entire body can lead to injury.

Cross-training workout: Speed, agility, and power training

Alder recommends general conditioning in the form of a metabolic workout (as he prescribed for strength trainers), but for athletes, he emphasizes plyometrics for power and agility. A workout that includes exercises like hurdles, box jumps, lateral skaters, ladder drills, suicide sprints (including side shuffles and reverse running), and band-resisted sprints all have a place in improving overall athleticism.

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Cross-training for runners

You joined in on a pick-up soccer game this weekend with friends or went kayaking on vacation and felt the burn. Can these activities work for the XT spot on the training calendar or should you still head to the gym for a less exciting cross-training session?
“What you have to decide is what purpose it is going to serve,” said Dr. Kevin Vincent, MD, Ph.D, the director of the University of Florida Running Clinic.
Cross-training should improve your cardio, strengthen your muscles, or help speed your recovery, according to Dr. Vincent. Many runners choose going to the gym and sweating it out on the elliptical on XT days, but some alternative methods can add an exciting twist to your routine while benefiting your running. Dr. Vincent and Dr. Darrin Bright, OhioHealth sports medicine doctor and ultra marathoner, give insights on these activities to spice up your training routine.
Text by Clara Grayhack



How It Helps Your Running: Cardio, Strengthening
“You run 3 to 5 miles. You’ll definitely get an aerobic activity of that workout. It’s kind of like an interval-type workout because you are slowing down and speeding up. You have a lot of side-to-side activity, which is going to strengthen lots of muscle groups. You’re going to strengthen hip muscles.”
Consider: It causes many ankle and knee injuries
“Soccer and basketball have two of our highest risks among women for ACL tears. With the cutting, jumping, and player-to-player contact, there’s a significant risk associated with those injuries.”
—Dr. Bright



How It Helps Your Running: Cardio, Recovery
“I look at it like you would be on an elliptical. It’s like running, but you give your joints a little bit of a break.”
Consider: There is potential for traumatic injuries, and depending on your intensity, it is not always aerobically challenging
“Wear the proper padding. Are you doing a lot of coasting? Not all of it is you being active then.”
—Dr. Vincent



How It Helps Your Running: Cardio, Recovery
“It’s going to work some of the same muscle groups and add in the upper body and the core. It’s a good aerobic workout without the pounding forces on your legs. It’s a way to get some more recovery.”
Consider: It sometimes causes upper-body injuries, especially if your form is off
“Proper form is important. If your form isn’t quite right, you can see some increased rotator cuff tendonitis, but it’s largely pretty safe.”
—Dr. Bright

Barre class


How It Helps Your Running: Flexibility, Strength
Consider: It is a high-intensity workout that could cause muscle strain or overtraining
“If these workouts are combined with usual training schedules without incorporating proper recovery time, there may be a risk for overtraining.”
—Dr. Bright

RELATED: HIIT Plan for Runners



How It Helps Your Running: Strengthening, Recovery
“It gives you a mental break, and there’s a lot of upper-body work.”
Consider: It can have low aerobic intensity, especially if you paddle casually
“There’s a little bit of lower body stability, but you are giving your legs a rest.”
—Dr. Vincent



How It Helps Your Running: Recovery
“If you are walking and carrying a 15 or 25-pound bag, there could be aerobic benefit. There’s a concept called speed golf. People literally run the 18 holes.”
Consider: It has low aerobic intensity
“If you are riding, there’s not much. It depends on how you play your round.”
—Dr. Bright

Martial arts


How It Helps Your Running: Strengthening
“It utilizes lower body strength and balance, which is something that can help to improve our running.”
Consider: It has low aerobic intensity
“It’s not the same aerobic intensity for a running workout.”
—Dr. Bright

Walking your dog


How It Helps Your Running: Recovery
“You are utilizing the same muscle groups. It’s usually not at that higher intensity, but depending on how big and fast your dog is, it might be more than you want.”
Consider: It has low aerobic intensity
“It’d probably be more of an active recovery day. I wouldn’t substitute it for tempo or interval.”
—Dr. Bright

Yoga class

How It Helps Your Running: Flexibility, Conditioning
“Benefits may be seen in hot yoga prior to running a race in warmer environments. It has been shown that acclimating to the heat can help to decrease your risk for heat injury and improve performance.”
Consider:You could strain a muscle from stretching it too far
—Dr. Bright

RELATED: Learn how to run the right way and burn three times more fat!



How It Helps Your Running: Strengthening
“It will help with lower body strength and will give you core strength. It will help with your balance as well.”
Consider: It causes injuries and has low aerobic intensity
“It’s not going to do as much for your cardio and endurance. You’re legs are taking quite a beat, so the next day you might not be feeling fresh and ready to run again.”
—Dr. Vincent



How It Helps Your Running: Cardio
“It’s very intense. You are conditioning. It’s a very hard workout and allows you to stay in shape.”
Consider: Your legs still take a beating, and it can cause injury
“You are still pounding on your legs. It’s not the same amount of rest.”
—Dr. Vincent
“If your foot catches or you plant wrong, you could get muscle strains, so calf and hamstring injuries. Tennis elbow is common among tennis players. Those are more those overuse type injuries. I primarily see acute muscles strains.”
—Dr. Bright

Cross-country skiing


How It Helps Your Running: Cardio
“It’s working similar muscle groups to running. There is high aerobic demand. It’s a perfect sport that we could substitute.”
Consider: It triggers asthma
“If you suffer from asthma or exercise-induced asthma, it has one of the highest triggers for asthma. It’s bad in cold and dry environments, you’ll be at risk for experiencing symptoms while doing that.”
—Dr. Bright

RELATED: A Warm-Up to Beat Exercise-Induced Asthma



How It Helps Your Running: Cardio, Strengthening
“It’s working some of those same muscle groups. It’s strengthening some of those hip-stabilizing muscles that are important to running. It’s also utilizing them in a way that we don’t always with running.”
Consider: It has lower aerobic intensity, and it can cause overexertion of leg muscles
“It maybe is not the same aerobic intensity as running. It is a lot on your feet that puts some stress on your calves.”
—Dr. Bright

Downhill skiing


How It Helps Your Running: Strengthening
“If you are doing a couple hours of it, it certainly does help with quad strength. When you are coming downhill, it will help with your posture and stability.”
Consider: You may overexert your leg muscles and hurt yourself
“It’s a lot of work on your quads. How much you did will determine if it’s a rest day or not.”
—Dr. Vincent
“The biggest one we see is ligament injuries primarily knee injuries, which can be pretty significant because of the forces involved. The one we see is an ACL tear and that ligament requires a surgical reconstruction.”
—Dr. Bright

Stand-up paddleboard class


How It Helps Your Running: Strengthening
“You do work your legs a lot, and it’s tiring from a posture standpoint. It’s not as much pounding as running is. It’s all about stability to make sure you don’t fall off the board.”
Consider: It works your leg muscles hard
“It’s a tougher workout than people expect. You’ll be sore the next day.”
—Dr. Vincent



How It Helps Your Running: Cardio, Recovery
“It works a lot of the same leg muscles, and biking is a way to substitute some of that pounding and still get a good aerobic workout.”
Consider: It has potential for traumatic injury, and you need to fit your bike like you fit your shoes
“There are traumatic injuries, and there are a lot of bike crashes because of the speeds involved with biking. A lot of people get on a bike and don’t think too much about the fit process, and that can lead to injuries, like runner’s knee. Make sure you take the time to do a proper bike fit.”
—Dr. Bright

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Cross-training is a valuable tool for all athletes, especially those who engage exclusively in resistance training like weight lifting. Weight lifting produces a myriad of adaptations, including muscular hypertrophy and strength. However, traditional resistance training programs may not be as effective in developing aerobic fitness (1). For this reason, a deliberate cross-training protocol should be chosen, and Spinning® should be the first choice for several reasons.

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness

Spinning classes strengthen your heart and lungs by working in five distinct Energy Zones™ that develop both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. The Endurance Energy Zone sets your target heart rate at 65 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate (MHR) to build an aerobic base and improve endurance, which is the ability to sustain a given exercise intensity for an extended period of time. After an aerobic base is firmly established, one can progress to the Interval Energy Zone, which ranges between 50 and 80 percent of MHR for aerobic intervals and as high as 92 percent of maximum heart rate for short anaerobic intervals.According to the Spinning 8-Week Performance Program (2), repeatedly exposing muscles to high-intensity exercise improves their resistance to fatigue, thus increasing endurance. Additionally, interval training teaches the body to recover quickly after a challenging workout. This makes the recovery phase of the interval a key element in interval training.

  • Caloric expenditure

Many individuals who weight train are also looking to reduce body fat. This gives them the “defined” look that many people desire. Integrating Spinning into a weight training regimen can be a useful way to enhance caloric expenditure and reduce body fat. A report from the Harvard Medical School showed that a general 30-minute bout of resistance training performed by a 125-pound, 155-pound, and 185-pound person expended 90, 112, and 133 calories respectively. A vigorous 30-minute bout of stationary cycling for the same weight categories resulted in a caloric expenditure of 315, 391, and 466 calories respectively (3). For those looking to gain muscle and lose fat who almost exclusively engage in resistance training can significantly increase caloric expenditure and hasten fat loss by incorporating Spinning into their routine.

  • Strengthens lower body

In general, weight lifters tend to focus their attention on upper body training exercises. In a 2013 survey, over 1,400 men who exercise regularly reported that chest, biceps, and triceps received the majority of their attention, while calves, hamstrings and gluteal muscles received the least attention (4). While this imbalance can be addressed in the weight room with lower body exercises, Spinning workouts provide an excellent opportunity to both strengthen the lower body and the cardiovascular system.

  • Reduced risk of injury

Including Spinning workouts in your training regimen can also reduce your risk of injury. Training in one discipline without deliberate periodization can contribute to muscle imbalances and injuries from overtraining. Also, indoor cycling is low-impact, which can potentially decrease stress to joints in comparison to heavy weight training activities.Knuttgen, H.G. (2007). Strength training and aerobic exercise: Compare and contrast. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(3), 973-978.Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc. (2013). Spinning® 8-week performance program. Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.: Venice, CA.Harvard Medical School. (2004). Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. Retrieved from: and Fitness Education. (2013). Men are neglecting lower body workouts. Retrieved from: Take this quiz and earn 1 SPIN® CEC

How to Combine Cycling and Strength Training

Many cyclists are interested in using a strength training program in the offseason to build on-the-bike strength and eventually power. Additionally, cyclists that are concerned with bone loss from a cycling-only program use strength training as a weight-bearing activity to compliment cycling.

A great question is how should strength training be integrated into a cycling program to get the most benefit?

More: 6 Reasons Cyclists Should Start Strength Training

The Minimum Exercises

  1. Hip extension (pick one: squat, leg press, hip sled, step-up or other similar exercises)
  2. Bent-arm lat pull down
  3. Chest press or push ups
  4. Seated row
  5. Core body work for both abdominals and back

Optional Additional Exercises

(Depends on your personal weaknesses, racing limiters, time and energy)

  1. Hip extension (Select a different exercise than No. 1 above. Consider doing single-leg squats to be sure each leg is equally strong.)
  2. Hamstring curl
  3. Knee extension
  4. Heel raise
  5. Adductors
  6. Abductors
  7. Additional core body work or balance exercises

More: How Cyclists Should Approach Strength Training

Strength Training Phases

Warm-up before strength training with 10 to 30 minutes of easy spinning on the bike, or with one or two sets of each exercise at a very, very light weight. The warm-up set is in addition to the assignments in each category described.

Depending on the cyclist and his or her particular goals, I will use two to four of the strength training phases.

Anatomical Adaptation

After the warm-up, complete 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions (reps) of exercises 1 through 5. Exercises 6 through 12 are optional.

This is the phase used to prepare the body for further weight training. In this phase, getting the proper technique perfected is critical. Begin with very light weights for all exercises the first session or two. Be sure to control the weight in both directions, up and down. After a few sessions, you can increase the weights so that the exercises feel light to moderately heavy.

During this phase cyclists are typically lifting weights one to three days per week. Depending on the rider profile, rides are either completely aerobic or may include low-end threshold training. For this phase, and all others, the total number of stressful or key workouts per week should total between two and four. In the first week or two of strength training, each strength session counts as one stressful workout.

The strength sessions in this phase should no longer be stressful after a couple of weeks — even if you’re bumping up the weights a small amount.

Do this phase for four to eight weeks.

More: A Strength Plan for Time-Crunched Cyclists

Maximum Strength

After the warm-up complete 4 to 6 sets of one or two hip extension exercises. Most of the time, hip extension exercises are the only ones I have cyclists do in a maximum strength (MS) format. Begin with a light weight and 15 reps for set 1. Increase weight and complete 10 reps. Increase weight and complete 8 reps. Increase weight again and complete 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 6 reps — most of the time I suggest cyclists aim for 6 reps.

If you are inexperienced at strength training or do not have access to a spotter, avoid heavy weights for a free-weight squat exercise and choose a machine-based exercise instead.

If you have a particular weakness you’d like to work on, you can follow the MS format covered in the previous paragraph for your target exercise. Otherwise, do 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps for all of your other exercises.

During this phase, it is best to strength train at least two days per week to get the most benefit. If you decide to add a third day, you can make it MS — or — go back to anatomical adaptation phase for one day, keeping the load lighter and emphasizing good form.

Because the MS phase makes legs feel heavy and tired, all MS sessions count as one of the stressful workouts for the week. With strength training taking up so much energy, most cyclists can only complete one more key workout each week. That session is either tempo intervals or a long ride with a range of intensities — light on the high-end intensities.

Do this phase four to six weeks or some eight to 12 sessions.

More: 4 Strength-Training Exercises to Boost Cycling Power

Half Their Size’s Eve Guzman on Cardio vs. Weight Lifting for Weight Loss

Eve Guzman Courtesy Eve Guzman; Source: Eve Guzman/Instagram

Eve Guzman was featured in PEOPLE’s 2015 Half Their Size Issue after going from 277 lbs. to 138 lbs. by dramatically decreasing her portion sizes and sticking to a high protein, low-fat, moderate carb diet. Since her weight loss, the genetic toxicology research assistant and mom of two, 34, has coached people all over the country on how to lose weight as a certified sports nutritionist and certified personal trainer, helping them drop a combined 2,950 lbs. Guzman recently competed in a figure competition, and will be sharing the next phase of her journey in an exclusive PEOPLE blog. You can also follow her on Instagram.

There has been a huge debate since the years of Jane Fonda workouts to the new powerlifting era about what is better, cardio or weight lifting for weight loss?

Speaking from my own experience, cardio and strength training change the composition of your body in different ways. Cardio will help you drop weight and burn fat and sometimes muscle, even when we aren’t interested in losing muscle. For me, cardio left me as a smaller version of my overweight self. I used to spend 60 to 90 minutes performing cardio six days per week. I still felt flabby and was what you call “skinny-fat.”

I would wonder why other women my weight and height looked more shapely, toned and wore smaller clothing sizes. The difference was that they had muscle mass and I didn’t. My body fat percentage was still 30 percent. As I added in weight lifting, I stayed around the same weight but went from a size 8 to 2, and my body fat percentage dropped to 19 percent. My curves looked better, my arms looked more shapely and defined with less loose skin, and my waist tapered in tremendously. I obtained the #curvyfit look that I had always desired.

As for the scientific take on the cardio vs. strength training debate, Duke University recently conducted an eight-month study comparing the effectiveness of cardio only, strength training only and a mixture of both. The group who did cardio lost the most weight, the strength training only group gained a small amount of weight, and the cardio plus strength training group “improved their body composition best — losing the most fat while adding some lean mass.”

What do I personally advise to my clients? Mix ‘em: enjoy the best of both worlds. High intensity interval training (HIIT), spinning and sprinting are forms of cardio that challenge your fat burning potential and enhance lean muscle development. Twenty minutes of HIIT can help you burn twice as much fat as steady state cardio while increasing muscle mass. Spinning can burn between 400 and 600 calories per session while improving your cardio health, building lean lower body muscle, and training your abs and core. (My spin instructor @coreydiehl kicks my butt!) Sprinting with great intensity can create the same metabolic effect as weight lifting, and develops more muscle mass than long-distance running.

Here is my current workout routine:

Monday: Chest, triceps, abs and sprints

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Back and biceps

Thursday: Shoulders and abs

Friday: One hour spin with Corey

Saturday: HIIT, legs and abs

Sunday: Rest day

Image zoom Eve Guzman Courtesy Eve Guzman

RELATED VIDEO: Half Their Size: Their Secrets to Losing Weight

No matter what exercise you choose, remember that at the end of the day, food is the most important factor for weight loss. You cannot out-run a bad diet — I have tried that — but exercise is still very important.

I have maintained my weight loss for more than three years with consistent exercise five to six days per week. I’d rather spend an hour in the gym each day than in front of the television. The average American watches about five hours of television per day — you could just as easily watch Netflix or YouTube while exercising for 30 minutes on the StairMaster.

But when it comes to losing weight remember: Lose weight in the kitchen, get fit in the gym.

Complementing weight lifting with walking and stretching each day improves

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