Is yoga good for strength training? Fitness trainers answer the most Googled questions

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Is yoga good for strength training? Stylist Strong trainers answer the most Googled strength and fitness questions. 

We’ve all seen the masterful acrobatics on Instagram with people lifting themselves into the most impressive of yoga poses and holding them for what seems an impossible amount of time. Anyone can see that takes a lot of strength and control. 

It may seem like yogis and weight trainers are two separate tribes, but as we seek out more diverse and balanced approaches to strength training, could incorporating yoga into your training help you on your quest for strength? And if you’re already on board with yoga, how can you make sure it’s complementing your strength training?

Each week three trainers from Stylist Strong, Stylist’s fitness brand that runs strength-training classes focused on incorporating weights into fitness, explain some of the most-asked questions from women who want to get into lifting.

This week they’re explaining the role yoga can play in strength training and ways to make sure it’s not working against you.

Is yoga good for strength training?

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Yes, but it depends on what kind of yoga you’re doing and what kind of strength training you’re doing. If we’re talking about restorative yoga, that might not necessarily link in as much because that’s much more about relaxation. But if we’re talking about it benefiting what you’re doing in your strength class, I’d say focus a bit more on slow or dynamic work, where you’re working on mobility rather than stretching. Range of motion, or ROM, is important to get the full range in our muscle. So sometimes you see people squat and they can’t squat that low, and it’s better to get that full range of motion in the squat or that full hip hinge, so something like yoga or pilates would be beneficial.”

TESS GLYNN-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“If you’re very flexible, then your muscles tend to be looser, and when you’re strength training you kind of want your muscles to be tighter. So it’s important to pick which yoga class you go to if you do want to include it in your exercise routine. If you go to something like hatha or vinyasa where it is strengthening you, it is also mobilising and some people do need more mobility in their joints. That will make them stronger because it means they can get into positions more easily or into positions that they couldn’t get into before.  At Stylist Strong we have the Strong yoga classes, which are great, but if a class involves lots of stretching, then it’s counterproductive to strength training. Something that people may want to be cautious of if they’re going from a pure yoga background into strength training is their range of movement. People who do yoga are incredibly flexible and have a lot of range. They tend to come into positions a little bit too far and they lose the tension in the muscles and then it becomes a bit more tendony and that’s when you tend to get injuries.”

EMMA OBAYUVANA, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“It’s definitely very good for strength training as a complementary thing, because yoga also builds strength, just like weightlifting does, but you’re using your own body weight to develop strength. It also develops spatial awareness in terms of your body, your sense of balance. You’re also lengthening those muscles and increasing your flexibility, which is a really good thing to do when you’re also doing weight/resistance training, because a lot of the exercises may be shortening your muscles or maybe you’re not doing adequate stretching after your sessions. Yoga is a great way to ensure you’re still flexible and mobile so in terms of your body mobility and range of motion, I definitely think yoga is a great thing to do alongside weight training.

What’s a good balance for combining the two?

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Strengthening with weights will help your yoga and yoga can help your strength training. So, they go hand in hand: your exercise routine should have balance in it. If all you’re doing is lots of strength training and not mobilising, your strength training is going to be limited. And if you’re just doing yoga and not adding in some strength training to get the stability you need in your joints, you’re probably going to get injured. You can get very strong [with yoga] but strength training aids that a little bit quicker. So, if your goal is to do a handstand – if you are working on a press up and then working on some lat pull-downs and some overhead presses – you’re going to have the stability in the shoulder and the strength through the shoulder to come into that handstand a lot quicker than if you would just kind of practicing flinging yourself and hoping that you can carry your body in a handstand.

TESS GLYNN-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“I would suggest doing about three strength sessions a week and focusing them around big compound lifts; things like your deadlift, your squat, overhead press, bench press, bent-over row, and then maybe doing one yoga class a week would also be good. That’s four sessions a week, which is quite a lot. But the yoga class would almost be like an active recovery class, so it’s not too intense, to help your nervous system rest a little bit, but it keeps the body moving. Going for something like a sports massage is great, just nothing that’s too vigorous and is going to create trauma. What you want is someone who’s just going to do long, gentle strokes to increase the blood flow. And if you’re doing a flow-based yoga, you’re getting the same effect. So if you’re moving pretty constantly in a class, vinyasa would be a good one for that, then you’re increasing that blood flow around the body, which is going to help ease up the muscles if you’ve got any soreness. “

EMMA OBAYUVANA, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Personally, I don’t do yoga once a week simply because I don’t have the time. You can do yoga once a month, once a fortnight, or once a week. I would go by how I feel because sometimes you want to take it slow. Do you want to move your body without having to lift weights because you want to have a low-impact recovery day? So, that’s where you might take it easy – like a hatha yoga session.That’s how I do it. I certainly wouldn’t do yoga more than once a week

Does Yoga mentally benefit strength training?

TESS GLYNN-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

 “I really recommend yoga to people more so for the mental benefits than the physical. That’s what I say to people all the time; I think it’s great for them to do it, but to go there and not push their bodies, just really tap into the mind and focus on being as present as possible. You can transfer that over into your strength training, because the strength training is probably going to be a little bit more taxing on the body. But if you can stay in that mindset of being really present and focusing on the task at hand, then that is a great way to be during any kind of training session.  Yoga is really good at making you feel aware of any aches or pains or little niggles, and the teachers will tend to make you aware of them before you even start the class. So from the get-go, you’re just becoming very in touch with your body, which is great, especially for training. Some days you may not have warmed up properly and the movement feels a bit sticky, so you don’t want to add too much load on if it’s not feeling great because then you can get injured.”

EMMA OBAYUVANA, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“These days a lot of people are focused on aesthetics; they want to be flexi, they want to look a certain way, but what we’ve got to remember is the whole point of yoga – originally, and I still agree with that – is mental. So, while you’re increasing your mental focus, you also centre yourself as well. It’s great for reducing stress levels; you connect with your mind and you kind of get into your body – you focus on your breathing, your movement. All of this is great in terms of centring yourself and in terms of your thoughts as well. When you practise yoga, you get that increased focus, increased mind-body connection, and also spatial awareness in terms of your body and coordination, which will also help you when it comes to free weights.

“I go to yoga that’s quite physical rather than mindful. I can only focus on what I’m doing – I guess that’s the same in yoga. You’re focusing on what you’re doing, rather than anything outside that could be coming in.”

READY TO START WEIGHT TRAINING?

Stylist Strong is a fitness brand specialising in strength training specifically tailored for women. Our classes are designed to build both physical and mental strength in a smart and informed way.

So, whether you’re a beginner or already have strength-training experience, Stylist Strong has a class to suit you. Come and try our strength-based classes, including our new yoga classes, at our own purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair.

Images: Getty

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