Strength training, using weights or bodyweight, is a popular way to build muscle strength and size. But what if you prefer a different approach to staying in shape, such as yoga? You might think of yoga as being more for relaxation than building muscle strength, but there are various forms of yoga. Some are more for relaxation and flexibility, while others are more taxing on the body. In this article, David Reagan, an Atlanta-based personal trainer, shares his insights on yoga and explains why yoga can replace strength training for some people.
An example of a more challenging type of yoga is power yoga, also known as Ashtanga yoga. The movements you do in power yoga classes require more physical exertion, and you place your body in positions where you support your own body weight, similar to bodyweight exercises.
Power Yoga vs. Strength Training
You can build strength with power yoga, especially when you’re first starting out. Initially, working against your own body weight is enough to build strength because your muscles aren’t accustomed to those movements, and they must adapt and become stronger to do them. But as with bodyweight training, you will reach a point where you can’t build further strength without adding more overload in the form of added weight.
Whether power yoga is enough depends on your fitness goals. If you’re trying to build serious strength and muscle size, you’ll hit a plateau with power yoga because of the lack of added resistance. Serious bodybuilders wouldn’t rely solely on power yoga to build muscle size or strength. Yet you can get fitter with power yoga, as long as you don’t count on it to build large muscles and brute strength.
In fact, power yoga is better for boosting muscle endurance, the ability to sustain a muscle contraction or muscle contractions for a longer period of time, since you’re holding positions for periods of time in an isometric manner. Therefore, your muscles become more fatigue resistant and able to maintain sub-maximal contractions longer.
Other Benefits of Power Yoga
Even if you intend on building significant strength, power yoga can be a worthwhile addition to your training routine. The movements you do with power yoga build functional fitness and improve how your muscles work together. As a result, you’ll have an easier time doing the activities you do in daily life and enjoy a lower risk of injury when doing them. By working your muscles in a balanced manner, power yoga movements are less likely to lead to muscle imbalances that increase the risk of injury.
Because of the dynamic nature of power yoga and the pace of the training, this form of yoga builds endurance and burns more calories than slower, more sedate, forms of yoga. Yet, like other types of yoga, Ashtanga yoga reduces stress and improves flexibility.
Power yoga may have another surprising health benefit, too. A study found three months of power yoga reduced muscle rigidity and improved walking ability in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The participants also enjoyed gains in strength and power.
The Bottom Line
Whether power yoga is “enough” for you depends upon your fitness goals. You can build and maintain a certain level of strength with power yoga alone, but your strength gains will plateau. Yet you don’t have to choose between strength training and yoga. The two can complement each other.
Strength training excels at building muscle size and strength, while power yoga enhances muscle endurance and flexibility. When you have greater flexibility and endurance, you’ll perform better when you train with weights.
Power yoga also helps you move more naturally and is a balanced form of training that’s less likely to lead to muscle imbalances. Plus, strength training hypes up your nervous system, while yoga has a calming effect that perfectly balances strength training. So, why not include both in your routine?
About David Reagan
David Reagan is a NASM Certified personal trainer from Atlanta, GA, specializing in weight loss, personalized workout plans, bodybuilding, and nutrition. He caters to high-end clients and executives, helping them achieve their fitness goals by accommodating their busy schedules. The client’s needs come first, and David’s fitness plan will set you up on the path to success.