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The 5 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Yoga Practice

While you receive amazing benefits from your yoga practice, it is good to supplement yoga with other modes of exercise to help push your body to its maximum potential. You’ve all been there – stuck in an exercise rut of the same old routine day in and day out. Whether it is a favorite flow or a high intensity interval training routine that gets your blood pumping, this common trap limits your body’s potential development to the specific benefits of a given exercise. By doing so, you are missing a whole world of possibilities and results for your ideal body.
Strength training is a method of exercise in which you push your muscles to their limits, thus causing them to grow and develop. You can enhance your practice by adding a strength training regimen to your yoga routine, and yes, we are telling you to lift some iron!

Here are the top 5 reasons to add strength training to your exercise regimen:

1. You will burn more fat.
For many of you, your yoga practice is not only for the mental benefits, but also for the physical benefits. Want to add a little extra fat burn into the mix? Did you know that when you put your body into what is known as an anabolic or muscle-building state, you have the capacity to burn extra calories for up to three days after your workout? When you put your muscles in an exhausted state (i.e. strength training), you will burn more calories at rest than you did previously. Studies have shown that individuals who follow a strength-training regimen lose 35-44% more weight than those who diet and do any other exercise program.
2. It will balance your practice.
When you do yoga, you smoothly transition from one position to the next in a systematic, rhythmic flow. When you strength train, your objective is to dynamically and repetitively move the weight from one position to another. While you are practicing yoga, you may find yourself focusing on the positions, relaxing, and calming your mind. When you strength train, you give yourself a constructive and directed outlet to relieve your daily stresses. Now, when you combine yoga with strength training, you can ease away the stresses with your regular yoga practice, and then you can channel those stresses that cannot be relaxed away through the physical exertion and endurance required for strength training. In addition to a balanced workout, this new approach to your workout routine will help balance and calm the chaos in your mind.

3. You will build more muscle.
Your body has multiple types of muscle fibers, made up of slow- and fast-twitch types. Slow twitch muscle fibers take a longer time to activate, while fast twitch muscle fibers create more force for shorter periods of time than the slow twitch counterpart. You will not notice an aesthetic difference in the two types; however, it is important for you to develop both. When you focus too much on one or the other, you will see an imbalance – you will have great stamina, but no force or vise versa. While you progress in your yoga practice, you do an amazing job of developing the slow twitch muscle fibers, but you do not develop the fast twitch ones. As you may guess, to develop the fast twitch muscle fibers, you need to do faster, more explosive motions, such as those done in strength training. Strength training will help your body become more balanced. Don’t worry, those muscles won’t have you looking like the Hulk either.
4. You will see the benefit for years.
There are numerous studies about the long-term benefits of strength training. These benefits include decreased body fat even after practitioners stop strength training, increased bone density that results in reduced risk of osteoporosis, and increased capability to perform daily activities (such as opening that jar yourself). If you are looking down the line at your retirement years, and you hope to be that strong and sexy senior that maintains health and full body functionality, strength training is a key element to help get you there.
5. You will have a more extensive yoga practice.
Have you been struggling to hit that perfect handstand away from the wall? Is your warrior feeling a little defeated? Does your peacock fall a little flat? Through enhancing your practice with a strength training regimen, you can develop the additional core, leg, and upper body strength to hit even the toughest poses.
You set your own bodily limitations. By adding strength training to your practice, you will find that it will enhance your mind, body, and spirit. You will have another positive outlet for your stresses, take your physical fitness to a whole new level, have more lasting results, and a fuller yoga practice. Now go pump some iron, yogis! 😉

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Enrico Fioranelli

Enrico is a personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist, who has helped students, housewives, and Division 1 athletes achieve the results that they desire. From yoga and Tai Chi to mixed martial arts, strength training and running, Enrico is an all-around athletic guy.

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