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Yoga class builds strength, eases stress for Soldiers in transition – FMWRC – US Army – 101005
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Photo by Charles Stadtlander, USAG Schweinfurt, cleared for public release, not for commercial use, attribution requested.)

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Yoga class builds strength, eases stress for Soldiers in transition

Oct 5, 2010

By Charles Stadtlander (USAG Schweinfurt)

SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Ambient music, fragrant candles and deep breathing exercises may not be hallmarks of standard Army PT, but the Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe know their Wednesday morning yoga class at the Kessler fitness center is anything but pure relaxation.

"We were looking for something that would provide a full-body workout, but without the speed," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Gagne, part of the cadre for USAG Schweinfurt’s WTU and the originator of the idea for the weekly class. "This was something new; it’s low-impact but high-benefit."

Erika Liem Palidar, a certified Hatha and Vinyasa yoga instructor, volunteers her time to lead the class every Wednesday at 6:45 a.m. She customizes her teaching to meet some of the WTU Soldiers’ specific physical needs, modifying each yoga pose or utilizing props such as straps or foam blocks to accommodate back injuries, muscle damage or missing limbs.

"I try to get every person in the class to participate every step of the way," said Palidar, who also teaches yoga at Kessler fitness center on Tuesday mornings and at Schweinfurt Elementary School as a stress-reliever for teachers. She counts many Soldiers among attendees to the Tuesday class, and while she admits many of the males needed coaxing from their wives to set foot in the yoga studio at first, they quickly became keen converts to the class, and now attend every week.

Her hour-long classes for the WTU engage core muscle groups and build upper body and leg strength through a series of sustained poses. While not the most strenuous variety of yoga she teaches, Palidar’s exercises produce no shortage of sweat, and the groans echoing through the room during the final seconds of her commands to hold plank positions and abdominal flexes prove that the muscle workout yoga demands can often surpass traditional calisthenics.

Though the center of each class is strenuous, Palidar bookends the workout with mind-soothing relaxation. To begin, the Soldiers breathe rhythmically with their legs crossed and their eyes closed. To wind down, Palidar instructs the Soldiers to lie down and cover their eyes with a towel, then progressively release tension from their whole body-moving from their toes to their head-over several minutes.

This combination of invigorating exercise and calming meditation can be particularly beneficial, especially to Soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder or mild traumatic brain injury.

The trend is beginning to catch on. Despite initial skepticism by prospective students, yoga classes are becoming staples of training and treatment at Fort Bragg, Fort Jackson, Fort Meade and other U.S. Army posts.

The discipline and peace that yoga offers can help treat PTSD both as a cure and preventative measure. According to Lisa Mascall, a physical therapist working with the WTU in Schweinfurt, yoga helps Soldiers reduce tension and learn to manage stress. This flexibility can help avoid the shock that often leads to PTSD.

"It adds the ‘mind’ aspect to overall fitness and well-being," said Mascall. She added that once per week, some members of the unit, and other Soldiers, attend a meditation group at the health clinic, intended to reduce pain and improve sleep without the use of medication.

The commander of Schweinfurt’s WTU, Capt. Anthony Benedosso, credits Staff Sgt. Gagne for organizing the weekly class. "This is a testament to the innovativeness of our cadre," Benedosso said. "With WTU Soldiers, there are no cookie-cutter answers." The unit command and physical therapist staff enthusiastically approved the idea for yoga training, said Benedosso.

Spinning, CrossFit and adaptive sports are among the other activities in the unit’s weekly training regimen. The goal of the wide spectrum of exercises is to benefit the Soldiers’ fitness and recovery without aggravating their injuries. Reducing the tension of training and the burden of recovery is built in to the WTU cadre’s mindset, according to Sgt. 1st Class Isom, the platoon sergeant.

"There is no stress put on our Soldiers to move past comfort," added Isom. But the eager newfound disciples of yoga in the Warrior Transition Unit seem perfectly willing to independently move themselves past comfort and back again each Wednesday as they try to attain the harmony of mind and body so crucial to recovery.

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Some people increase their muscle mass for sport, where others do it because they have to or because they enjoy it. Regardless of why you want to do muscle building, you can find information that will support your goals. Read the below article in order to discover some helpful tips about building muscle.

Form is most important. Do not get caught up sacrificing the correct form trying to go faster. No matter what exercise you are performing, slow down on reps and put your focus on your technique. This will give you better results. Take time to be certain you are doing the exercise correctly.

Keep your focus on exercises such as squatting, dead-lifting and bench pressing. These three exercises are considered the cornerstone of a good bodybuilding regimen, and for good reason. Not only do they increase bulk and strength, but they increase overall conditioning. No matter how you vary your routine, always perform these basic exercises.

If you are looking to gain muscle, you will need to eat a lot more. You would want to consume the required food in order to gain an average of one pound per week. Research healthy ways for you to add muscle mass, and if increased caloric intake does not improve your mass, then consider muscle building supplements.

Eating meat will help you build your muscles. You need to supply every pound of muscle you have with at least one gram of protein. When you properly fuel your body with the amount of protein it needs, you help your muscles grow. This can give you the strength and appearance you’re looking for.

When you are formulating a diet to aid in your muscle-building efforts, do not neglect carbohydrates. Carbs are vital because they will help you to get the energy that you need so that you can have a great weight training session. If you do not consume enough carbohydrates, your body will begin to break down protein to use as energy. Having enough carbs will help your body function better and help get you through your workouts.

A great method of motivating yourself is to set short-term goals and give yourself rewards when you reach them. Achieving long term goals requires that you provide yourself with motivation along the way. Give yourself healthy rewards along the way to stay motivated. If you were to treat yourself to an occasional massage, it would help your recovery by increasing blood flow to your muscles, helping you relax, and alleviating soreness, allowing you to return to your workouts well-rested.

Provide your body with plenty of the right fuel on exercise days. An hour or so before your workout, eat more calories than you would on a typical day. This doesn’t mean you should go crazy with your diet on the days you work out. Instead, it means that you should eat a little more compared with the days that are not working out.

Compound exercises are crucial when building muscle. Multiple muscle groups are used in every lift, extending the workout across your body. For example, bench presses exercise your triceps, chest and shoulders all at once.

Do as many sets and repetitions as you can during your training. Try taking breaks that don’t exceed 1 minute and try 15 reps for each set. This stimulates the release of lactic acid, which is a key component in muscle growth. Doing this many times during each training session will produce maximum muscle building.

This article almost certainly helped you learn to lift weights and build muscle in a more efficient manner. Keep in mind the ideas that were most advantageous to you and look them over each day, then include them into your everyday workout regimen.

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