Life happens and sometimes physical fitness isn’t the biggest priority in your life, and you end up developing a “dad bod”. If you’re reading this blog, I assume you want to start living a healthier life and learn how yoga can help you get rid of your “dad bod”. But, you should first understand that yoga isn’t going to magically make you lose weight. However, it is going to help you build flexibility, mobility, strength, and ultimately assist you in building healthy habits.
In this blog I’ll cover:
- How Did You Get “Dad Bod”
- How You Should Be Trying to Get Back in Shape
- Benefits of Yoga for Dads
- How to Get Started with Yoga
- Additional Resources:
How Did You Get “Dad Bod”
For many people gaining a “dad bod” wasn’t in their best interest – it just kind of happened. Your teens and twenty-somethings have plenty of time to get fit, go out, and they’re blessed with a high metabolism. All these elements make it relatively hard to gain weight. However, lifestyles change and so does your body.
You Needed to Focus on Your Career
By far one of the biggest challenges to maintaining an active lifestyle is starting a career. Suddenly, the majority of your time is spent at work, commuting to work, and thinking about work. I know for me the 40hr work week wasn’t just 40hrs. More times than not, I would come home from work and immediately check my emails, making it impossible to devote time to my workouts.
This lack of brain space makes it very difficult to focus on anything except work for tomorrow, your schedule, and your errands. As your active lifestyle shifts to a more sedentary one, you might notice yourself gaining weight, developing back pain, and struggling to have energy throughout your day.
Lifestyle Changes – You Started a Family
The next big life-changing event that I’m just now experiencing for myself is starting a family. I know for a lot of dads, especially ones I’ve talked to in my programs, this milestone is the defining moment that they started losing touch with their physical fitness – the dad bod starts.
It’s a happy but stressful time, where your entire schedule is spiraling out of control. Do you really know when you got restful sleep? – not really. These stressful few years are often plagued with weight gain, because restful sleep is critical for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and most dads just aren’t getting that.
That’s not all, research has suggested that lack of sleep and overall stress leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol – “the comfort eating hormone”.
This hormone causes higher insulin levels, causing your blood sugar to drop. In response, your body craves sugary fatty foods to comfort yourself and lower stress. To put it simply, higher stress means a larger desire to eat sugary and fatty comfort foods, leading to gaining body fat.
You Had An Injury
Injuries are one of the hardest things to bounce back from both mentally and physically. Spraining an ankle may be one thing, but breaking a bone, tearing a ligament, or even tearing a muscle has long-lasting effects that affect your ability to exercise safely and efficiently.
For many dads, the fear of agitating these injuries or re-injuring themselves is one of the biggest roadblocks to losing weight and getting the body they want.
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How You Should Be Trying to Get Back in Shape
We’ve all heard that a healthy active lifestyle is better for our bodies and minds. But what does that even mean exactly and why should we strive for it?
Having a healthy lifestyle isn’t about running marathons, lifting ridiculous amounts of weight, or eating salads all the time. It’s more about being health conscious and understanding the cause and effects of everyday choices on your well-being.
Doing exercises aimed at longevity and strength (like yoga) for a few minutes every day, choosing to eat unprocessed foods, and getting up for short walks, all have profound effects that can help you feel better, stronger, and pain-free throughout your day.
It’s not just about aesthetics either. Yes, having a lean defined body is nice, but as you age it becomes even more important to focus on mobility and flexibility too. These elements of fitness help you avoid injury from exercise, everyday tasks, and sudden movements as well.
That being said, getting back into shape isn’t about finding some 30-day ab program and running with it. No, it’s about understanding all elements of your health from diet, sleep schedule, habits, AND exercise to then formulate a plan to change it for the healthier.
Benefits of Yoga for Dads
Why is yoga good for dads? There are many forms of exercise from weight training, endurance sports (running and cycling), and HIIT workouts, but yoga is the only low-impact exercise that blends breathing and body awareness with strength and flexibility to help you feel stronger and better in both body and mind.
However, not all yoga is the same. There are many forms of yoga and all of those are practiced differently from instructor to instructor, so before I go into all the benefits – I wanted to clear up a misconception first.
Is Yoga All About Flexibility?
Many guys I’ve talked to say that they’ve tried yoga before, and it wasn’t challenging enough or that it focused too much on stretching. Their main concern was that they weren’t building muscle through the workout, or they weren’t flexible enough. I’m here to say that you don’t need to be flexible to start yoga, and that there is much more to yoga than passive stretching – you CAN build muscle.
First off, there’s a major difference between passive and active stretching. Passive stretching is going to your end range of motion and passively staying there as your muscles, ligaments, and tendons stretch. However, active stretching involves engaging the antagonizing muscles to force yourself into a deeper stretch.
In strength-based yoga (what we practice at MFY), this active stretching builds strength, muscle, and flexibility. And let me tell you – it’s extremely challenging.
Yoga Is Great for Regaining Mobility
As I mentioned early, as you age it’s important to focus on your mobility, but what is mobility? To put it simply it’s the ability to engage and produce power through your full range of motion. If you can touch your toes, but struggle to get back up – that’s a problem.
Because strength-based yoga focuses on active stretching, you’ll target the main two factors limiting your mobility: flexibility and strength. This is a gradual process, where you’ll regain your ability to twist, turn, bend, and move without pain or worry of injury.
This allows you to continue to move, be active, and enjoy the sports you love to aid in burning fat and building muscle.
Yoga Builds Isometric Strength
Most guys are familiar with isotonic exercises such as bicep curls, bench press, and squats. It’s the tried and true way to build muscle, but there’s another way to build muscles with plenty of other benefits – isometric exercises.
Yoga is one of the few exercises that focuses almost exclusively on isometric strength, meaning that you’ll be holding a challenging position or pushing against an immovable object for a set amount of time. This type of exercise has been proven to build muscle since time under tension is an important factor for hypertrophy, meaning you can build strong lean muscle with only your body weight.
That’s not all, research has shown that isometric exercises increase your ability to produce rapid amounts of force. It’s what most people commonly refer to as explosive strength. This is because isometric exercises result in greater neurological activation, which allows you to better recruit your muscles for maximum strength outputs.
If you play any other sports such as golf, basketball, or tennis, the combination of mobility and quick strong movements is important to your sport, so by training isometric strength through yoga – you can improve your game.
Yoga Helps Manage Stress
As mentioned before, stress is one of the biggest factors to take into account for losing weight and getting the body you want. To manage your stress, yoga focuses heavily on diaphragmatic breathing or breathing from your belly.
This style of concentrated breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for “relaxation and digestion”. It also slows down your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “flight or fight” response. In turn, this lowers your overall stress levels, slows your heart rate, lowers cortisol production, and helps you stay away from “comfort food”.
An added bonus is that by lowering your stress levels, you can get better sleep. And a restful night’s sleep is important for continuing to burn fat during the night.
How to Get Started with Yoga
Now that you understand how yoga can help you get rid of your “dad bod” by building strength, increasing mobility, and managing stress, the next step is how are you going to get started?
I know not everyone has the time to go to a studio and most of the time finding a good instructor is extremely difficult. That is why I recommend trying at-home yoga programs to save time by taking the commute out of the picture.
If you’re interested in trying a yoga workout with clear instructions focusing on building strength, proper muscle engagement, joint alignment, and with no spiritualness, check out my video below!
You might be interested in some tips on starting off your yoga practice, so read on! 3 blogs covering some basics.
About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.
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