Yoga vs Weightlifting

Question is: can Yoga build a strength? Hell yes, it can!

We often associate Yoga practitioners with skinny, anemic look and energy level close to zero. This vision could be true, but at the same time it could be very wrong!

In variety of Yoga styles we can choose from restorative, to super challenging ones. And as during Yin Yoga session you surely won’t build any muscle, it would be completely different story if you choose Vinyasa!

How can Yoga build the strength?

When we talk about building muscles and strength, I bet 85% of us think: lifting weights, numerous reps in certain period of time, and tons of sweat. Let’s start then! If you consider lifting your own body weight, Yoga is a weightlifting 😉 More! Training on weights and weight machines flexes only major muscles! Holding Yoga poses require to engage smaller group of muscles as well! 

There are poses which create kind of strength unachievable for weight lifters at all – as we have to hold positions for longer, we build strong muscles, joints and endurance. Few good examples are standing positions (warrior 2 and 1, or one legged balancing poses), challenging arm balances (crow pose, handstand or forearm stand) and core strengthening poses (boat pose – V-sit, back bends, high to low plank). Sweat? You can sweat out yourself at Yoga! 

My teacher told me once that Yoga is for everyone, except lazy people. I don’t know if it’s totally true, but maybe there’s something about it.

Yoga gives something which I call an animal strength – it enables people to do stuff with their body! To hold it upside down, to jump from your feet to your hands and back, and to do bunch of amazing things with full control and grace! 

My fighter students need some additional training units to build an extra strength. Usually they do cross training and weightlifting, although it commonly causes injuries. So they ask me: “hey Klaudia, can Yoga alternate my strength trainings?”, I say: “Yes, Yoga can, and Yoga should!”. And I’m not saying that because I’m some crazy, hipy Yogi (maybe I am, but surely it’s not the reason). I used to teach CF classes, I am a personal trainer, and I’ve checked all kinds of workouts on my own body. This opinion is based on a true story of my and my customer’s life, and true history of my and my customer’s injuries. 

And here I’m telling you this: Yoga builds strength mixed with flexibility, which – and trust me here –  is a freaking awesome combo! After regular strength workout we feel sore and limited in movement – like flooded with concrete. After Yoga? Please! It’s like an upgrade to the 1st class from economy! It turns your body into the playground, when weightlifting locks you in a jail.

Of course, beginnings can be – as always – more difficult, because our muscles and nervous system are exposed to something new, but give it a few weeks of consistent work, and you’d be in eternal love!

Yoga vs weightlifting: 1:0

What kind of muscles Yoga builds?

A SEXY muscles! As I said few lines above, holding Yoga poses pushes our body to use smaller group of muscles, which results in increasing some tone and definition. 

Long story short: you’re becoming  more lean and shredded. If you’re not muscular yet, you’d be nicely surprised with some muscle gain as well.

Yoga vs weightlifting – who’s a winner? I guess it’s a draw.

Obviously, it very depends on what is your training goal; if you’re willing to build the bulk, weightlifting would be better for you – indisputably. 

Muscles need to be overloaded, to keep developing. And that’s the point of weight training – when muscles adapt to the resistance, and certain weight stops to be a challenge, you simply add more, and here you go again. That’s the recipe for impressive physics – in terms of volume. 

Yoga vs weightlifting: 2:1

Everyone has a different taste, so I decided to show you some Yogis of my choice – just to prove that Yoga body can be super hot!

My top 3: 1. Dylan Werner 2. Instagram star bastard yogi 3. One and only, living legend Kino McGregor

What kind of Yoga builds the muscles?

Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore style), Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga can be led in a very physically demanding way. Although – you should keep in mind that Yoga is not equal to yoga, and everything VERY depends on your instructor. 

I’m a teacher, but I’m also a student – being 2 in 1 makes my expectations super high. As a student, I can tell you that it’s extremely hard to find a good teacher. As a teacher – I can tell that I’m constantly putting my 200% to be the best in what I’m doing. Looking for someone educated, experienced and reliable? Simply start practicing Yoga with me (Skype Yoga classes available)

Why your Body wants Yoga, not a weightlifting?

Yoga is a more balanced approach!

A regular yoga practice lowers risk of injury and allow your body to perform better in daily activities: sitting, walking, twisting, bending, lifting and standing. Yoga moves your body in they way it was made for – not only forward and back, but in a full range of motion. Your machine is finally used properly! 

Movement in yoga is based on eccentric contraction – muscles contracts and stretches at the same time – that’s what makes them flexible and strong in action, when sleek and lean in the look! 

Weightlifting is something opposite – a concentric muscle contraction; muscle gets shorter as it contracts, and it stays shorter, if we don’t stretch it after the workout (let’s be honest – we don’t). Fibers in tissue are healing super close to each other and that’s what gives muscles compact look. 

In general, Yoga sequences are created of poses which practitioners should hold for certain period of time (usually 5 breaths) and then repeat them –  that’s what improves endurance in muscles!

Weightlifting causes trauma in your body. Trauma wasn’t called trauma without a reason. 😉 By practicing Yoga, you’re not only building strenght and flexibility, but you’re also lowering tension in your body, and toning your muscles – everything during a one class! It’s called balance, and balance sounds way better than trauma. 

Yoga vs weightlifting: 3:1

Gene Factor 

As a general rule is that some type of training would result in bulky, and another in lean muscles shape, we have to remember that – no matter what activity we choose – our genes are playing here major role. 

For person who is ectomorph (lean and long, hardly building muscle), weight lifting will build soma muscles, but they would never be same neat as mesomorph’s (muscular, solid-built, fast metabolism). If person is endomorph (massive, high body fat, often pear-shaped), getting body definition would always be more difficult. Therefore we shouldn’t associate how particular body looks, with what it can do. I have students with no visible muscles, who are way stronger than muscular ones.

Training is only enhancing what we already have and how our body is programmed. It’s healthy to remember and respect it. 

First and foremost: appreciate who you are, how you look, and extract the highest performance from what you were given.