Yoga Or Strength Training For Fitness?

Yoga and weight training are the two sides of the same coin, where the coin stands for improved health. Yoga predominantly focuses on the principles of flexibility, basic strength and on the thinking, feeling and being of a person than on the outer appearance. Most of the dumbbell worshipers believe the advantages of strength training are enough to endure a healthy and a fit life.

Yoga is more than an exercise, it’s a lifestyle and a way of living. To select the parts of it and incorporate it as an exercise for health development is sufficiently defeating the whole purpose of yoga. Holistic is the second name of yoga and in its truest sense trumps strength training.

yoga for bodybuilding

Knowing we don’t thrive in an ideal world, being a yogi is very challenging, rather next to impossible. Since the rise in awareness in the last 2-3 decades and celebs embracing Yoga or weight training for their health development, there has been a steady rise in the opposing teams for both the cults. While the Yoga side boast of a well-rounded approach, the strength training fanatics boast of quicker fat loss results and carving out appealing physiques. Yoga and bodybuilding together offer excellent benefits contributing to health development, individually they don’t entirely satiate the demands of overall fitness.

When we say overall fitness, it implies all the aspects of strength, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition. If you read through it again, it’s evident both Yoga and strength training don’t tick-mark all the above elements individually. Yes, marketers and ardent followers of either disciplines will leverage everything to subjugate the other and try to elevate their own mode of health enhancer as the crown King of fitness.

Science above everything is the perfect judge to ascertain the results and we shed some light on this fitness conundrum using scientific facts to help you make better decisions for your health improvement.

IMPACT ON HORMONES

Hormones play an essential role in body development. Growth hormone (GH) facilitates an increase in muscular strength and reduces the overall adipose or fat tissue.

Exercise is a powerful stimulant of the GH. A beginner and not so flexible individual can lift weights comfortably in comparison to performing medium intensity asanas, thus the secretion of GH is higher amongst the weight training individuals. Since the GH production is higher, muscle growth is faster which in turn leads to reduced body fat and improved body composition.

IMPACT ON BONE DEVELOPMENT

Apart from overlapping the benefits of mood alteration and positive body changes with yoga, strength training also offers significant bone development.

Bones are always dynamic in nature thanks to our constant motion. Add to that any rigorous movement and it puts the pressure on our bones. Bone fortification is achieved through strength training. Higher than usual load on your skeletal system will force the bones to grow stronger by increasing the bone density. With a rise in Osteoporosis amongst Indian men, the need for strength training is all the more. Though asanas like chaturanga dandasana, warrior pose, navasana, etc. work on your core muscles, you’ll always be lifting just your body weight, so the gains from strength training win here.

Interestingly, astronauts lose around 1-2% of their bone mass when in outer space as no gravity invites no bone building process.

yoga complements bodybuilding
(top) Navasana (Image Source : jackcuneo.com), (bottom) Chaturanga Dandasana (Image Credit : aomm.tv)

IMPACT ON METABOLISM

Strength training causes muscle growth which leads to increased metabolism. This is because the muscle has higher fuel requirement for energy, as in, it causes more calorie burning at rest while fat has lower energy expenditure. An increased metabolism plays a great role in losing fat thus helping you achieve a better body composition.

Though yoga also causes an increase in metabolism, it is higher through weight training.

IMPACT ON TENDONS AND LIGAMENTS

Owing to the majority of focus being on big muscle groups in weight training, developing the smaller and underutilised muscles becomes challenging.

While you may be able to squat like a herculean, if you’re hip flexors are not catching up, you’re quite likely sitting on a ticking bomb of injury which may keep you out of action for a while. Practicing yoga asanas can bolster your ligaments and tendons thus complementing your larger muscle groups and enhance your weight training. For example, following hamstring curl in the gym, relax that muscle with Supta Padangusthasana; practice reclined spinal rotations after a dead lift or kettle ball swings session, etc. to keep the joints healthy.

For yoga practisers, it is essential to put in some strength training sessions to develop and strengthen the large skeletal muscles for daily purpose.

yoga after bodybuilding gym
(left) Supta Padangusthasana (Image source : jackcuneo.com), (right) Reclined Spinal Twist (Image source : acefitness.org)

IMPACT ON MOBILITY

The enormous focus on the shape and appearance of chest, biceps, shoulder, abs and legs in this day and age, has led to greater indulgence in isolation training in the gyms. This limits the mobility of the body. Yoga helps develop natural movement patterns enabling you to harness your strength in any direction.

Stretching and holding on to muscle tension during asanas and poses offers better balance and stability. Regular stretching also facilitates fresh blood flow to all the tissues more optimally. Apart from flexibility, it also makes the muscle quite supple thus improving the oxygen flow to strained muscle tissues and in turn helping in healing and recovery process. Asanas like headstand and downward dog are good for blood flow circulation throughout the body.

IMPACT ON FAT LOSS

If you embrace yoga to lose excess body fat, it’s a handicap approach. Holding the asana and a pose without basic strength in your muscle tissue can lead to prolonged fatigue. We recommend strength training as a faster way to lose fat and gain strength. After building basic strength and improving body composition, performing yoga asana and poses, which sometimes involves lifting your own body weight becomes much easier. And reaping the overall benefits of yoga becomes quite enriching.

Yes, you may opt for yoga since the start of your fitness journey, but the strength gains through yoga is slow compared to weight training only because the micro-trauma required to develop stronger muscle tissue caused during strength training is way higher compared to yoga.

It is the micro-trauma that forces the body to get stronger against a potential threat. As you get stronger the fat loss becomes swifter obviously subject to good nutrition.

CONCLUSION

Before embarking on debates about which is better for health improvement, it is essential to know the current fitness level of an individual. According to that, once has to add or amend their training program to secure health improvement. Also a lot of it depends on your personal goals, so before pointing the gun with your school of thought understand the other person’s goals.

When you combine yoga and bodybuilding, following unified benefits are reaped;

  • Improved muscle density and strength
  • Increased bone density
  • Boosted metabolism
  • Improved flexibility and mobility
  • Strengthened connective tissues of the body; ligaments and tendons.
  • Better muscular endurance
  • Improved body composition
  • Enhanced health

Working towards a holistic health: Mind, body and soul, it is essential to incorporate both of them. And it is because of their conflicting nature that they complement each other so well.

Let us know how this is affecting that in your pursuit towards a better health.

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