Muscle Building With Yoga: Three Workouts To Do At Home

Do you want to build muscles and increase your flexibility? Our three yoga workouts for at-home help you specifically strengthen and mobilize your legs, shoulders, and core. Can you build muscle with yoga? This is the question many beginners ask themselves for a good reason. The hype about the multitude of positive effects of yoga on our body and mind appeals to more and more people.

Nevertheless, many think more of very lean and flexible body images than of a well-trained body type packed with muscles when it comes to yoga. The combination of flexibility and strength can be the key to a healthy, fit and muscular body.  

How Do You Build Muscles With Yoga?

“Yoga builds muscles just like any good strength-oriented training plan in the gym,” says Yogi and Crossfiter Efken. “In the end, yoga is nothing more than a sequence of different exercises with your body weight.” Muscle building in yoga is based on three principles:

  1. Progressive overload: so steadily increase the stimuli on the muscles.
  2. Metabolic stress: making the muscles burn.
  3. Mechanical damage in the muscle.

So what is essential to build muscles in the flow are challenging poses, a well-thought-out sequence, and the intensity of the workout. And this is how it works:

Yoga Flow For The Upper Body

Just try it out and, over time, try the more complex variants and increase the repetitions. Progressive overload due to progressions of poses. The “progressive overload” is the basic principle of strength training with weights. You continuously increase the weights, and over time your body adapts to the increasing challenge by building muscles. Muscle building works very similarly in yoga. This basic principle is not relatively easy to implement as in the gym, where you slide another disk onto the barbell.

In yoga, your own body is the weight you lift. And you most likely have no interest in gaining 5 pounds every week. So how does it work then? The answer is the progression of poses: just like exercises in CrossFit or bodyweight training, any yoga posture can be modified. For example, if we want to build muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders, ‘Chaturanga’ is a great pose. Depending on how strong you are at the moment, there is a Chaturanga variant for you:

  1. Knee-Chest-Chin Pose
  2. Half Chaturanga (knee on the floor)
  3. Chaturanga
  4. Chaturanga push-ups

The main factor is the tension in your muscles as you do the exercise. The more advanced the variant, the more prolonged and more muscular the tension in the muscle, and the more muscle building can take place. But what if you have already reached the most complex variant? Then there is a second driver of progressive overload, and that is volume.

The training volume is much easier to increase. Just as you can increase the number of reps in the bench press with a certain weight, you can increase the number of sun salutations in training or the length of the flow. Quite simply, do more muscle-building poses and flows overall.

Yoga Flow For The Core

As an example of the principle of “metabolic stress,” you will find a longer flow in this video to build up metabolic stress in the core. Just try it out and make your muscles burn. Your six-pack will be happy .

Metabolic Stress From Demanding Flows

Metabolic stress is a physiological process that your muscles and muscle fibers go through during exercise. It is based on the accumulation of waste metabolites in the muscle. Metabolites are intermediate products in the metabolic process that is stimulated in the muscle during intensive training. You know the burning sensation in the muscles just before the last repetition. Your muscles swell and signal to you that you could slowly stop. That’s metabolic stress.

Fortunately, the torture is not in vain. This burning sensation has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle building. The amount of metabolic stress you produce during a yoga workout depends on the type of yoga you practice. A challenging Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow will make your muscles burn in no time, whereas a relaxed Yoga class has the opposite regenerative effect.

Yoga Flow For The Legs

To try out eccentric overload, try simply lengthening the eccentric phase of the movement for the legs in this flow. So go down slowly with the squats – and enjoy.

Mechanical Damage From Eccentric Overload

Mechanical muscle damage sounds dangerous at first, but it is absolutely on our behalf to build muscle. As the name suggests, it is about the microscopic damage in the muscle fibers caused by the mechanical movement of your muscle. The greater the damage, the more uncomfortable the stairs will be the next day and the longer the healing process will take as the muscles grow.

Usually, these tiny tears appear in muscles when you put extreme stress on them. This usually happens when lifting heavyweights. Interestingly, the downward movement of one rep is particularly effective in building muscle hypertrophy. This phase of the movement, in which the muscle lengthens, is also called the eccentric phase. Yoga is amazingly effective at growing muscles from mechanical damage since most of the poses are eccentric tension. Training that uses this method is also called eccentric overload.

With weights, this form of training can be pretty dangerous because, by definition, you move more weight than you can lift. But in yoga, it is straightforward and safe with proper practice. Any yoga pose that involves lowering your body can be an eccentric workout. You can easily adjust the intensity by slowing down the lowering or changing the exercise’s angle, making it more difficult. For example, a standard push-up is much easier than a dolphin push-up.

Four Tips For Building Muscle Faster With Yoga

“It must be said that any form of regular, targeted yoga training also has a muscle-building effect,” . “Sun Salutations for the volume, long vinyasas for metabolic stress and variations of poses for progressive overload, just to name a few.” “Once you understand how these principles of muscle building work in yoga, it is possible to develop a yoga workout that maximizes muscle building in the desired muscle groups.” 

Four tips on how to customize your yoga workout so that you build more muscle:

  1. Find several “power poses” that are optimal for building muscle and strength. Plan progressions for each of them: start with a simple variant and keep increasing. Try to practice these poses regularly, each at the highest possible level of difficulty.
  2. If you have mastered a variant well, but the next level seems impossible, use volume as the main driver. It doesn’t matter if that means more repetitions or if you hold in each pose for a more extended period.
  3. Use eccentric movements as much as possible by slowing down the lowering of the body and thus lengthening the time under tension. For example, if you lower yourself on the mat during a vinyasa, try incorporating challenging variations into your training.
  4. Incorporate regular vinyasa flows into your training to train your strength and endurance. And: Do not take any breaks between the poses and flows to trigger metabolic stress, which in turn favors your muscle building.


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