Yoga is often considered to be one of the best forms of exercise out there. This is true on a number of fronts.
It’s well known for helping with flexibility, balance, range of motion, and burning calories. Moreover, those poses take some serious strength to maintain for any prolonged amount of time. Yes, yoga will help make you stronger.
That said, does yoga count as strength training? Let’s figure out what exactly both yoga and strength training are, and then go from there.
- What is Strength Training?
- What is Yoga?
- Does Yoga Count as Strength Training?
- Some Benefits of Yoga
- Best Types of Yoga for Strength Training
- Some Great Yoga Poses to Build Strength
- Yoga & Strength Training – The Bottom Line
What is Strength Training?
For those of you who don’t know, strength training is also sometimes referred to as resistance training. Strength or resistance training is a type of exercise where your muscles are engaged by working against an opposing force. In other words, you are using your muscles to lift something that is resisting you.
There are various types of strength training out there, with basic weightlifting being one of the most popular. Other forms of strength training include CrossFit, bodyweight exercises, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting too. Bottom line, strength training is about building muscle strength and endurance.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a partly physical and partly spiritual discipline. Right off the bat, a lot of yoga has to do with deep breathing, focus, concentration, and meditation. In this sense, it is very spiritual. It is indeed known for having various benefits for the human mind and soul.
However, yoga is also physical in nature. Yoga involves a vast array of physical poses that one must achieve and maintain. Some poses are easier than others, and some are extremely difficult.
These poses are designed to have a variety of benefits. These include increasing flexibility and range of motion, improving balance, improving blood flow, and yes, building muscle strength as well. All that said, does yoga really count as strength training?
Does Yoga Count as Strength Training?
The answer here is both yes and no. In terms of the yes side of things, yoga uses various body positions and your own bodyweight to provide you with a challenge. Many of those yoga poses do indeed require a great deal of muscular strength to hold for any amount of time.
As mentioned above, strength training involves anything that uses any sort of weight or resistance to challenge your muscles. Yoga uses your own body as resistance. So, technically speaking, according to the official definition of strength training, yoga does count.
That said, according to official fitness studies and yoga masters alike, the primary intention of yoga is not to build muscle. Yes, yoga can build muscle, but it’s not the primary concern or the main benefit. There are some yoga poses that are officially recommended for strength training.
Keep in mind that there are many different yoga poses, hundreds in fact. Some focus greatly on strength, others on balance, and some primarily on flexibility. So, realistically, whether or not yoga qualifies as strength training really depends on the specific pose. In reality, most yoga experts recommend adding additional strength training to yoga routines for real muscle development.
Some Benefits of Yoga
Now, we want to take a quick look at all of the benefits that yoga brings to the table. Yes, strength is definitely part of the equation here.
As mentioned previously, many of the poses in yoga do require a great deal of strength to execute and hold. If you need strength to execute the poses, you are therefore also building strength in the process.
Yoga, especially something like hot yoga, is well known for having calorie burning and fat loss benefits. Depending on the type of yoga, you may burn up to 460 calories per hour. That’s pretty impressive to say the least.
Flexibility & Mobility
Those poses in yoga don’t require just strength. They require a great deal of flexibility and mobility too. Improving overall flexibility is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of yoga.
Yoga helps to improve balance in a number of ways. For one, many poses require good balance, which in itself trains balance. Moreover, both increased muscle strength and flexibility also help to improve balance.
There are some types of yoga out there that are also fantastic for increasing cardiovascular health. Some of the faster paced types of yoga can really get your heart going.
Spiritual & Mental Benefits
Although there’s enough to write a book on this front, yoga is well known for having many spiritual and mental benefits. It can help regulate mood and improve cognitive abilities too.
Best Types of Yoga for Strength Training
What you also need to know is that not all yoga is the same. Yes, there are in fact a few different kinds of yoga out there. Some of these are better for building strength than others. Let’s take a quick look at the best types of yoga for strength training.
- Iyengar yoga is slow paced, but known for having long holds. The holds in this type of yoga are held for long periods, and this does indeed train your muscles.
- Ashtanga yoga is known for being very high paced. It is considered great for building upper body strength and cardiovascular endurance.
- There are also hybrid yoga classes that have elements of actual weight and strength training.
Some Great Yoga Poses to Build Strength
Let’s quickly look at some of the best yoga poses for muscle training.
- The warrior III pose is excellent for training glutes and as a hamstring strength.
- The chair pose is great for training both leg and arm strength.
- The plank pose is a great core buster and upper body builder.
- The boat pose is excellent for training abs and hip flexors.
- The locust pose is great for training arms, upper back, glutes, and hamstrings.
- The bridge pose is great at training glutes, hamstrings, and back extensors.
Yoga & Strength Training – The Bottom Line
While some may not consider yoga to be a real form of strength training, it certainly can be. Find the right kind of yoga for you and you should see some rather drastic improvements.