How Yoga Can Help You Achieve Your Strength Training Goals

How Yoga Can Help You Achieve Your Strength Training Goals

Elevating Your Workout with Yoga for Enhanced Flexibility, Power, and Mind-Body Connection - By Beth Rush

Reading time: 3 minutes

Strength training gets a boost from yoga, with improved flexibility, functional strength, core power and mind-body awareness.

Many women use strength training to build muscle, tone their body and manage their weight. While kettlebells, resistance bands and barbells may cross your mind, did you know yoga can help you achieve desired results more efficiently?

Here's what you should know about building muscle with yoga and adopting a mind-body practice to complement strength training. 

What Muscles Do You Use During Yoga?

Yoga poses target numerous muscle groups, allowing you to tone your body over time. The practice utilizes the core muscles most, including the following:

  • Rectus abdominis: The core muscle along the front of your abdomen where you might see a six-pack.
  • Transverse abdominis: The deep abdominal muscles supporting the spine and organs.
  • Obliques: Muscles along your torso for optimal spine rotation.

Additionally, yoga strengthens several back and leg muscles, including the erector spinae — encouraging better posture and bending — and hamstrings. Depending on the pose, the calves, shoulders, triceps, biceps and the pectoralis major are also utilized. 

5 Benefits of Yoga for Strength Training

Yoga isn't simply a series of sun salutations and downward-facing dog poses. This ancient practice complements strength training perfectly. Here are five reasons to practice yoga as part of your strength training regimen.

1. Increases Flexibility

Have you ever tried strength training with tight muscles? This may have resulted in worsening soreness or injury. Regular yoga broadens the body's range of motion and loosens your joints and muscles during weight lifting. 

Yoga instructors guide you through asanas — yoga routines — according to your experience level and abilities until you build enough flexibility. They also assist you in modifying poses so you can do them more effectively without harm. 

2. Builds Functional Strength

Strength training may focus on one muscle group at a time, but yoga utilizes several simultaneously. It allows you to strengthen your body for optimal functional strength, supporting your ability to perform daily activities easily and boosting your overall fitness. 

The balancing table pose is one yoga movement to build functional strength. Begin on your hands and knees, tightening your core muscles and keeping your back flat. Put one arm out straight and hold it. You can also lift the opposite leg to challenge yourself even more. Just be sure to avoid this pose or use cushiony props if you have limited mobility in your knees, shoulders and arms. 

3. Improves Muscle Endurance

Some yoga poses are isometric, meaning you hold them longer than others. Examples include the pigeon, high plank and chair poses. In restorative yoga, holding some positions for 10 minutes or longer is common. 

This type of exercise culminates in greater muscle endurance, meaning you'll gain more power to lift heavier weights during strength training. 

4. Prevents Injury

If you're not careful, you could become injured using weights. In fact, 2.6 injuries occur for every 1,000 hours of strength training — primarily strains, sprains and tendon fractures. As you improve your core strength and flexibility with yoga, you reduce your risk of getting hurt from weight lifting. 

5. Enhances the Mind-Body Connection

Yoga allows you to cultivate a more profound connection between your body and mind. As you grow awareness of physical sensations and breath, you learn to concentrate more on specific muscle groups. 

This benefits strength training by allowing you to hone in on the most effective workouts. Likewise, it forces you to pay attention to any discomfort or pain in your body, making modifications as necessary. 

Take Strength Training to the Next Level With Yoga

Yoga isn't just for relaxation anymore. By integrating it into your weight-lifting routines, you reap the rewards of greater muscle strength and endurance. Make time to do yoga for workout efficiency and quicker results. 

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Beth Rush

Beth is the mental health editor at Body+Mind. She has 5+ years of experience writing about behavioral health, specifically mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.