Alternative Ways to Augment Your Muscle Building Program
Trainers often discuss the importance of varying your routine; to both protect the body from injury due to overworking a particular area, and to build balance across the various muscle groups. One of the most effective ways to train, and to build a muscular body without bulking up to such a degree that you become “boxy”, is to alternate your weight routine with one of the strength and flexibility training programs used by dancers. Many gyms offer isolated fitness classes based on these concepts, but if you have the option of going to a center that is devoted to dance training, the intensity of the workout and the structure of the training will be noticeably different. Most dancers will utilize one or more of the following strength and flexibility training regimens to augment their regular dance work. For a non-dancer (or snowsports enthusiast, as this is perfect preparation for that late ski trip) it is best to try out each one to see which modality has the most effect on your body, and fits your physical goals.
Pilates is probably the most widely recognized of the strength and flexibility programs originally practiced by dancers. It can be performed on a mat, or on a machine called the Reformer, among other apparatus. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the late 1800s in Germany, the program was designed to exercise the body both physically and mentally, through a series of exercises that work each muscle group in a highly systematic way. The work requires intense use of the core muscles, breath control, and concentration. The Reformer is a resistance training system that works multiple muscle groups at once. Pilates has splintered off into many groups over the years. Some have remained true to the original teachings of Mr. Pilates, while others have adapted the form to suit a particular population, or fused it with other modalities like yoga. Keep in mind, the U.S. Federal Court ruled that the term “Pilates” was generic in 2000, so anyone can say that they teach Pilates whether they actually do or not. You will need to do some thorough research regarding an instructor’s training. It is best to speak with other students, especially dancers, to ask whom they recommend. The addition of Pilates to any strength-training program can be hugely beneficial.
Gyrotonics, like Pilates, can be performed on a mat, or in a chair, or on an apparatus called The Pulley Tower. There are also more advanced apparatus for specialized bodywork needs. Juliu Horvath, a classically trained dancer and gymnast who tore his Achilles tendon and herniated a disc while dancing with the Houston Ballet, developed the system. Unable to dance, he began to create a program of movement in order to recover, combining yoga and resistance training. The Gyrotonic Expansion System grew out of that study. He opened his first Gyrotonic studio in New York in the early 80s, and for many dancers, Gyrotonics has become the primary form of bodywork utilized outside of the regular dance regimen. Gyrotonic training is quite extensive, so it can be more difficult to find teachers. However, if you do have a certified Gyrotonic or Gyrokinesis instructor in your area, it is an excellent addition to any muscle-building program.
The history of Yoga is so long, and the number of styles, schools, and philosophies that have developed is so great, that attempting to boil it down into a few sentences seems a little futile. Swami Vivekananda, who toured Europe and the US discussing Hindu philosophy and lifestyle, brought Yoga to the attention of the Western world in the late 1800s. In short, Yoga, from a movement standpoint, is the original strength and mental training program. A combination of held postures and breathing exercises, Yoga is known to improve and strengthen the musculoskeletal system, heart and lung function, and cognitive ability. It also improves mood and reduces anxiety. Combine it with a well-designed strength-training program, and you will not only gain muscle mass, but also improve flexibility, wellbeing, posture, and lung capacity.
Building muscle mass is not all about the gym and fitness drinks. It is also about training the body in multiple ways, so that the muscle mass created is functional muscle. Whether you are training for a competition, heading out for that skiing trip, or are simply interested in getting bigger personally, using one of these alternative methods as part of your weekly workout regimen can be very beneficial. Bulking up, but not being able to sit in your car because the backs of your legs are so tight that you have trouble bending your knees, is not a wise direction to take. When planning your muscle-building regimen, consider adding one of these other movement modalities. Your body is a machine, and like any machine it requires multiple tools to run optimally. If you are looking for a way to improve your machine, consider one of the options above.
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Date Published : 2011-12-01 07:18:00
Written By : Izzy Woods
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