There are many analogies used to describe performance of the human body, although none more popular than that that of the race car. In nutrition dialogs we relate calories to the fuel of the race car. When it comes to preseason strength and yoga, what we’re really doing for the human body is tearing it a part and rebuilding it with a more powerful engine and a safer frame.
Strength and yoga don’t make you faster. Let’s just get that out there right now. They do, however, make you more stable which makes you less prone to injury which allows you to train harder which does, in fact, make you faster. That’s my opinion and it was developed after spending no less than a hundred hours meeting with physical therapists and orthopedic doctors to tap their brains on how to keep my athletes from ever becoming their patients.
There are many ways to categorize muscles and exercises: Slow Twitch vs Fast Twitch; Open- vs Closed Chain; Plyometric vs Static; Concentric vs Eccentric. We will focus on only two classifications: Movers and Stabilizers. Movers are the big muscles that get the body down the road (or the pool lane) like your quads, hamstrings, and pecs. Stabilizers are ones that attach to your pelvis or shoulder and keep your body glued together. Glutes would fall in both categories. Stabilizers are more important for endurance athletes. They prevent injury.
Strength training progressions should start easy focusing on stabilizers and progress to larger mover muscles and small amounts of plyometric work. You should never feel overwhelmed or completely taxed by your strength training plan. You’re an endurance athlete, not a beach bum.
Yoga helps offset the negative affect strength training has on flexibility. Like strength training, flexibility does not make you fast. However, lack of flexibility can limit your run stride and bike fit.
During peak training I push my athletes to Restorative or Yin yoga classes. This time of year you can use yoga in any way you want, including a substitute for strength training. As such, absolutely any yoga class will do. Just go …or YouTube it.