Can Yoga Build Muscle?

Profile image Divuni Mindfulness
   Health & Fitness   
May 24   
Updated Jun 21
Holding yoga poses allows your muscles to tense and tear, which is the only way your body can build more muscle. Let's better understand how yoga builds muscle.
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Whether they are on a weight-loss journey or just looking to make their physique a little more appealing, many people turn to building muscle. However, when people think about building muscle, they often go straight to weight lifting and other things like resistance training. But they missed one very important physical practice that can not only benefit in building muscle, but a wealth of other things - yoga. How can yoga build muscle, though, after all, it's more about flexibility, right?

Integrating a regular yoga practice into your workout routines can help not only build muscle but tone your body as well. This is because during yoga you hold poses that allow your muscles to tense and tear, which is what they do when you lift weights and is the only way your body can build more muscle. Once the muscles have been torn, your body sets about restoring the muscle, and as it does this, the muscle becomes stronger.

In this article, we're going to take a look at how yoga can build muscle as well as its benefits and some tips on optimizing your yoga practice.

Yoga & Building Muscles: How Does It Work?

When you are in the midst of a yoga session, your body goes through three different processes that help build muscle. Below we're going to take a look at all three of these to explain to you how yoga can build muscle:

Progressive Overload

When you're lifting weights, the idea is that the more weight you lift, the bigger the muscles you get. Though many may not look at yoga and see this as a factor, it does deal with progressive overload. It is not done the same way as adding more weight to a bar. It's more about resistance from the body.
This can be done through pose progression. This means that as you build up a skill in yoga, you're going to move from the simpler positions to the more difficult positions gradually. This, in turn, will help build up progressive overload and will result in building muscle.

Metabolic Stress

This is basically a fancy way of saying you're going to feel the burn. When you get to the end of your yoga session, you're going to feel the same tension and build in your muscles as you do when you're lifting weights, and this is called metabolic stress. The more metabolic stress you generate the more muscle burning you will feel. This will eventually lead to more muscle mass.

Mechanical Damage

When you lift weights, your muscle fibers begin to develop small tears in them. When you cause enough damage to your muscles, your body rushes to it to repair it, and to keep it from happening again, it will increase the size. Doing this over and over again will build muscle mass and you can feel the mechanical damage in yoga very easily.

Why Use Yoga To Build Muscle? Benefits of Building Muscle With Yoga

There are a lot of great benefits of building muscle with yoga. Not only can you get the same results (maybe over a lengthier time, and depending on your goals) as you do when you're doing traditional weight training. but you also develop flexibility and a clear state of mind. We're going to take a look at each of these benefits in more depth as well as a few others that may help you choose yoga as part of your muscle-building routine.

Strength

Yoga uses natural movements to execute their poses, which can build strength over time. Not just strength, but functional strength that allows you to move through life easier.

Balanced Movement

When you're looking at yoga poses, you'll see that each of them is a compound movement and is often tied into sets of movements that create a more balanced flow. Basically, there is an ebb and flow to the movement that helps create a more balanced workout.

Muscle Health

In order to build muscle, your muscles have to be healthy. The processes and poses utilized in yoga allow you to stretch and healthily build strength so that you have fewer chances of injury.

Flexibility

Typically, when you are someone focused on building muscle through weightlifting, you wind up losing mobility and flexibility. But with yoga, you can build muscle while retaining your mobility and flexibility, and that's always a great benefit.

Impact

There are many people out there that want to build muscle and strength but have limited mobility or health conditions that require low-impact exercise. Yoga is a perfect choice for them because it is a low-impact way of creating a healthier body as well as mind and soul.

Tips On Optimizing Your Yoga Practice For Muscle Building

Yoga can be a reliable and effective way to help build muscle. To get the most though, there are some tips that we think you might really appreciate and utilize to optimize your results.

Poses

Some poses are called power poses that will be more effective when it comes to building muscle. Once you have gathered these you can then practice them at different difficulty levels to build more muscle.

Volume Over Variety

It's important to understand that, just like with weightlifting, it's not always about going to the next level. Sometimes it's about doing more at the level you're at. So if you don't feel you're ready for the next step in a position's difficulty, just extend the time that you hold the pose that you're currently utilizing.

Maximize Tension

As you're doing the poses, you can actually utilize muscle tension to make them more effective. So when you're transitioning from position to position, always find a way to have a maximal muscle tension so that you are putting more stress on, which in turn will create more microtears which will help build muscle.

Muscle Building Yoga Poses

We talked about poses in the above section and so we're going to give you a few of the best muscle-building yoga poses you can incorporate into your practice.

Tree

This pose has you standing on a single leg and is designed to help build balance while grounding your body. During this pose, you're going to be working on the stabilizer muscles from your hip down to your ankle on the leg that is planted. While the other is going to be working on doing a good stretch in the groin area. On top of that, this pose also uses core strength to help you stay stable, and that means that it's going to be working on several different muscle groups.

Warrior Three

This is another single-leg pose that has you balancing and utilizing your core. The only difference is that this has a forward-leaning pose that puts more weight on the standing leg. It is also because this forward-leaning position works on the backside of the body, which means it's activating more muscle groups.

Bridge

Squeezing through the legs all the way up to the lower back, this pose also helps open up the chest and shoulders. Everything about this is intended to work for several different muscle groups while giving a ton of the mobility joints good stretches.

Chair

The chair pose is designed to really work the legs and glutes as well as the core in the lower back as well. During this pose, you will feel your quads and glutes burning, and once again, this tension and stress will help create microtears that will help build strength.

Related Posts
What Does Yoga Do To Your Body & Brain?
Can Yoga Help You Lose Weight?

Final Thoughts

Yes, yoga can build muscle! Because yoga, though it may take longer, utilizes some of the same processes that weightlifting does, your muscles will have the same ability to build themselves. By creating tension, micro-tears, and consistent movements, your muscles will be put through the same rigors, and therefore find themselves not only strengthening and growing, but becoming more toned while you remain flexible. All of this will help you find your way to living a more happy and healthy life through utilizing yoga for not only mental and spiritual well-being but also physical too.

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