In the fitness world, yoga and strength training are the two strongest contenders against each other and many questions float on the surface as soon as anyone has to choose between them, which goes like this: Is yoga better than strength training? Can yoga replace strength training? Which one will be more fruitful down the road?
Since you are reading this, you must be in two minds of whether to go for peaceful yoga or challenging strength training? Well answering these floating questions is not as straightforward as you may think. Some fitness freaks put a lot of stress on the usefulness of lifting weights and believe that pumping irons deliver more than any other exercise. At the same time, a lot of people believe in yoga and assert that it is your way to achieve a healthy body and mind. Is one actually better than the other when both are offering an array of fitness benefits? How about cross-training? One builds the body while the other nurtures. Imagine something so good on its own; if combined together can unleash something far better.
Up to 460,000 Brits are taking part in yoga classes each week. The Pilates and yoga industry has had a revenue of over £926 million in 2020, up 6% from the year before (£875million).
Source: Yoga Statistics
Many yogis look toned which might make you think if they lift weights. Yes, they lift their own bodyweight! To understand this, let’s start with saying that for every yin there is a yang and that implies the ancient Chinese philosophy that the two contrasting forces may truly be unified and complementary if come together. Doesn’t matter if you are a weight lifter or a yoga practitioner, you can definitely get to the next level by combining both.
Yoga vs weight training is indeed a hot debate and even comparing them is moot.
To their very nature, both are contradictory practices. One stretches muscles whereas the other builds them. It is just because of this contradiction that they make a good match. Imagine a body that is attractive but healthy, strong but flexible. That sure builds a nice image in our mind so why not give it a go.
Let's just start by discussing the pros and cons of persistent training in both yoga and weights.
Positives of Yoga
Yoga is the combination of breath work and balance with strength and flexibility to achieve greater goodness both physically and mentally. This is what distinguishes it from the rest of other forms of exercise, while this practice offers a number of benefits for mental well-being as well. Read on, as we are going to highlight some of the apparent physical gains you can achieve with yoga.
Yoga teaches balance:
Balancing your body is an essential day-to-day task and it’s not an easy one. It’s more like walking on two legs which is not easy for toddlers but they get better with time and practice. So, we can say that balancing is not only a skill, it calls for muscle awareness, stability, and strength. A regular yoga practice builds balance and ensures the strengthening of your muscles by bringing awareness to them thus stabilizing your joints, which in return prevents injury to occur.
Yoga teaches body awareness:
What is body awareness? It is an ability to know which part of your body is relaxed or stressed. This sense of mindfulness has paramount importance because it helps you know your body well especially during undesired situations. For instance, you can tell if your body is holding onto tension under an undesired situation while making you attentive to your breathing.
You may question that how does yoga help with this consciousness? The answer is simple as yoga places great stress on right body postures plus muscles and joints alignment. Importantly with a yoga pose, you come one step closer to learning about your body awareness.
Yoga builds isometric strength:
What is isometric strength? It is the ability to retain and hold a position such as push and pull for a certain time period. This is the most fundamental form of strength training in which you need to maintain good posture to stabilize joints.
Yoga is unique when it comes to developing isometric strength because many strength-based yoga workouts lay emphasis on holding other challenging positions for a fixed time. By doing that, it toughens plus develops deeper muscle fibres and small stabilizing muscles as bigger muscles become exhausted. By building isometric strength, you increase your joint stability and muscle endurance which lets you train stronger and do better at sports.
Yoga builds flexibility
Flexibility is the core of yoga. If your body has a greater degree of flexibility, it lowers your risk of injury due to the muscle pull, overstretching of a joint, or injury of muscles or tendons. There are few yoga postures that stress on stretching more than others and that increases the much-needed flexibility. Now choosing those yoga poses depends on you that which part of your body you want to train. For instance, seated yoga postures develop hip flexibility whereas standing forward curves have much to do with your legs and spine area along with building a stronger lower back.
In western physiological terms, "flexibility" is just the ability to move muscles and joints through their complete range. It's an ability we're born with, but that most of us lose. "Our lives are restricted and sedentary," explains Dr. Thomas Green, a chiropractor in Lincoln, Nebraska, "so our bodies get lazy muscles atrophy, and our joints settle into a limited range."
The only thing that you remember is that yoga won’t boost your bodily strength and flexibility instantly but you have to keep practicing to see the visible results. Gradually, you’ll notice that your body will start stretching and bending a little more. So before you head towards advanced postures, be sure to set up a solid foundation of yoga routine starting with a beginner level.
Positives of Weightlifting
What comes to your mind when you are working on building muscles? Is it a Greek god-like body? Yes, that’s what we all think at the start of the workout and that's what will keep us going. Weightlifting is one of the most effective and systematic forms of exercise that specifically targets your muscles and it has always been in the mainstream plus considered as an indicator of physical fitness.
According to American Heart Association, strength training is a physical activity that readily improves your muscles' fitness by targeting a particular muscle group against outside resistance, including free weights, weight machines, or your body weight.
Muscle mass naturally decreases with age, but strength training can help reverse the trend.
Source: 5 Benefits of Strength Training
One important thing to understand is that strength training is not all about bodybuilders lifting heavyweights in a gym but with consistent training, it can inhibit the loss of muscle mass that happens with aging. A famous saying goes like this, "the only two certainties in life are death and taxes", but how about adding degenerating muscle mass into the list. Loss of bone density and muscle mass in later age impacts our ability to do something smoothly and that’s where resistance training comes to the rescue. Why strength training is also called resistance training? Because it strengthens and tones your muscles by tightening them against a resistance force.
Our muscles start losing yearly 3-5 % of their mass once our age hits number 30.
Source: Preserve your muscle mass
A muscular and toned body is less prone to a host of injuries because when you work on your muscles to get a stronger body, you ensure that it is ready to work a little harder while carrying heavy bags of groceries or any other weight.
Head straight to Xn8 Sports to get all the equipment you need to gear up your fitness game with strength training.
Yoga and Weights: a cross-training
If you are still looking for the answer to which is better between them, then look no further because it's already settled that both help you build muscles. Every move that has to do with giving enough stress to your muscles is supposed to build them. This should solve the riddle for you as you no more have to put yourself into this dilemma of choosing between two famously Instagrammed workouts.
Let's just consider these three overarching factors while you decide to build a muscular body;
1- How many days a week you indulge yourself in a workout?
2- How many repetitions or sets you perform?
3- What is the intensity of your workout? Either you are doing more repetitions or harder with constant progression.
You must keep in mind that regardless of the fact that both kinds of workouts help you achieve your goal which is to build strong muscles, there is still one thing that sets them apart. With yoga, there are not many challenging postures that can challenge your body strength as compared to weight training. This does not nullify our stance that yoga builds strength. It instead is great for building endurance but that does not equate/correlate with muscle strength.
There is a huge misconception that muscle fatigue means muscle growth. There are some yoga postures like a downward facing dog or high lunge that can make you tired of you hold yourself for 60-90 seconds but this is not an efficient use of your time if you want to build overall muscles.
Yoga can only build so much muscle with your own body weight but that's where incorporating strength along with yoga helps you build stronger muscles because you can keep adding weights.
How does a muscle develop? When an outside resistance breaks down your existing muscle and then your body resultantly repairs it by adding upon the already existing muscle. This process does not start during your workout, rather it happens during a rest phase. This is an indication that overtraining can be severely detrimental to your fitness goals.
Muscle tension is the main instrument of muscle growth. To build muscles, the amount of stress you have to apply must be more than your body is already used to. In weight training, this can be achieved by adding more weight and increasing the repetition. However, it's not so easy to achieve while practicing yoga since the only resistance your body is facing is your own body weight.
There is a range of weights available at Xn8 Sports for you to challenge yourself. If you are a newbie, go for dumbbells but if you want to mix things up, kettlebells are in business to make the best out of you.
You must be thinking about why we should practice yoga if we can build muscles with strength training only? The answer is simple. If your body does not have enough flexibility and mobility, it will more likely break down due to overtraining or muscular disproportions.
How Yoga and Strength Training Payback Each Other?
We have already sorted out that there is no contest between two top of their line workouts, but there are overlapping benefits that one can attain with cross-training. For instance, yoga makes you flexible and builds muscle endurance that you need for weight training, whereas, the latter helps you get better at yoga. That’s how they pay back each other.
Yoga for Weight Lifters
Yoga is equally useful for all levels of training; doesn't matter if you are a newbie or a pro. It sets the foundation straight by building strength and mobility required to lift weights and with restorative yoga, your body recovers from any injury due to overtraining. Thus yoga heals your body and makes sure that you get back to your workout sooner with less sourness.
Weight Training for Yogis
Are you lacking the proper balance while practicing yoga? Let the strength training helps you get through it! That's how it works when performing push-ups and pull-ups as they both strengthen your back muscles which correct muscle imbalance that may have been causing you shoulder pains.
Targeting a particular muscle group, especially legs, during weight lifting enables you to take your yoga practice to an advanced level. Though yoga builds muscle endurance and strengthens your legs, still their maximum productivity is not strengthened. This is only possible when you put stress on your legs more than they are adapted to hence you go for weight training.
The Ideal Workout Schedule
There is nothing like a perfect or ideal schedule that caters to the needs of everyone but there is a universal process of determining your body needs. You need to understand the signals your body is giving you in case you are overtraining or undertraining.
And it's not only how your muscles feel but you must consider your mind, joints, tendons, and your energy level to understand that you are following a schedule that is helpful and not risky.
A close to ideal workout schedule may look something like this.
Is it Feasible to Practice Both Workouts on the Same Day?
Yes, it is! You can start your day by activating your muscles with strength-based yoga postures, which will reduce your risk of injuries later on. Ending your workout session with passive yoga postures is a great way to get the most out of your recovery time.
Xn8 Sports yoga foam roller is an effective tool to add up in your warm up and cool down session.
But there are many challenging yoga poses that must not be included on the same day of strength training because it can lead to overtraining your muscles which may disturb your form, lessen your control and cause much more fatigue. It depends on your fitness level that how much you can do in one day because, in the end, you know your body well.
Warning Signs of Overtraining:
Excess of anything is dangerous. Let this concept sink in your mind so that you know that overdoing a workout would not result in overnight progress. This misconception has its roots in the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Our body needs rest and time to adapt to the change so we can get to our fitness goals in a lesser time period. Some of the most common symptoms include a gradual decrease in performance due to unnecessary fatigue, difficulty in sleeping as you rekindle the problematic area due to an injury in the past. With these signs, moodiness kicks in because restlessness and tiredness due to overtraining will result in hormonal imbalance.
Indications of Undertraining:
As much as it is necessary for you to avoid overdoing a workout, it is equally important for you to keep a check that you are only moving your body through a couple of movements. Repeating the same routine without challenging yourself by adding more resistance can lead to undertraining. This leads to reduced outcomes and eventually, it won't be the best use of your time. Some of the visible lookouts are that you are bored because there is nothing challenging for you to practice, plus there is no progression.
You do need to have these things in check but again this doesn’t mean you have to go overboard and excessively exhaust yourself after every workout session.
Now that we know tossing a question like which one is better between two of the trainers’ most favourite workouts is absurd. Both reign high in their own sphere and combining them both in your fitness regime is in your favour. Yoga, for centuries, has been known to have healing power for our body. To supplement the health benefits of this amazing century-old meditation-based workout, fitness devotees come up with something extra, that can pump up their heart and boost their fitness level. Yoga happens to fit in with every kind of workout and now fitness gurus are sharing their thoughts to combine it with strength training to have a multitude of benefits.