As a newbie rock climber, I’m quickly learning that the physical strength required to scale a cliff is no joke. Give me a yoga mat and I’ll handstand and chaturanga to my heart (and muscle’s) content. Which is why it was an exercise in humility when I found myself trying—and failing—to pull my body toward the artificial rock wall in a New York City gym. When I rely on my yoga practice for strength, am I leaving something out?
I couldn’t quite put my finger on the frustrating muscle disparity. That is, until an Instagram post from Charlee Atkins, trainer and founder of Le Sweat and Le Stretch, incited a no-duh moment for me. “[Y]oga is a heckuva lotta ‘pushing’ and I’m in need of some pull!” writes the trainer. “If you’re a yogi or a regular practitioner of yoga, I highly recommend incorporating these ‘pulling’ exercises to help balance out your body for the long run.”
It’s so true—right!? There are about a million yoga poses out there, but the vast majority involve pushing your weight away from the floor. Not pulling your body toward something. If you, too, have been feeling the repercussions of that imbalance, don’t sweat it (or rather, sweat your way through it). Atkins shared her workout for doing just that:
The 4 best pull workouts every yogi needs to do at the gym
1. INVERTED ROW
Find the squat rack and position your body laterally underneath it, gripping the barbell with your hands. Complete reverse push-ups, pulling your body toward the bar. Release back down slowly.
2. BENT OVER ROW
Grab two dumbbells, bend your knees, and lean over slightly (making sure to keep your back straight). Wing your elbows back behind your ribs in a rowing motion. Return the weights to neutral.
3. BENT OVER ROW
With your body in the same position as it was in the bent over row, grab the dumbbell (palms facing up) and row.
Step on your mat with Valerie Verdier, Well+Good’s trainer of the month: