Yoga for Bodybuilding: How Getting Versatile Helps You Acquire Muscle

Yoga for Bodybuilding: How Getting Flexible Helps You Gain Muscle

The parable of the muscle-bound bodybuilder must vamoose. If youre an Open competitor on the Mr. Olympia, you might not be capable to hit the splits (though, among the greatest posers in bodybuilding actually can). However it’s essential to stretch your pondering to achieve essentially the most mass doable. Mobility issues for the muscle-minded simply as a lot because the devoted yogi or profession gymnast. 

In case you hit the weights in pursuit of your best physique, doing yoga might seem to be a silly use of your time however that couldnt be farther from the reality. The truth is, mixing some yoga into your bodybuilding routine is perhaps what it’s essential to take your physique to the subsequent stage. 

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To get essentially the most out of your time on the mat, it’s essential to understand how yoga and bodybuilding work together, what stretches to do, and when to do them. Heres how you should use yoga to construct muscle. 

Can You Mix Yoga and Bodybuilding?

In brief; sure. They might look distinct from the skin, however yoga and bodybuilding share extra qualities than you may assume at first look. The lengthy reply is a little more difficult. Stretching is probably not considered poison to the muscle-gaining course of, however how you need to combine yoga into your coaching isnt completely minimize and dry. 

Stretching vs. Yoga

First, it’s essential to have a working understanding of the variations (and similarities) between stretching and yoga. A layman may regard them as the identical factor and thats partly correct, in some contexts however youd be higher off with a extra nuanced perspective.

Stretching is a modality of restoration. The first objective of stretching in athletic contexts is to enhance smooth tissue flexibility as a way of getting ready for (and recovering from) bodily coaching

A bodybuilder doing yoga.
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Then again, yoga is a follow that is available in quite a lot of completely different types; some are extra bodily demanding than others. Yoga practitioners incorporate loads of stretching as a part of their follow, however flexibility isnt a objective unto itself. It’s, for essentially the most half, a consequence of working towards yoga for its personal sake. 

You may stretch your physique with out working towards yoga. Whereas most types of yoga comprise loads of stretching, it isnt essentially the objective in all circumstances. Bodybuilders can use yoga for all the identical causes anybody else does; to enhance their mobility, calm down their minds and muscle tissue, or add in a little bit of off-day motion. All of which, by numerous means, contribute to physique growth. 

What the Science Says

Heres the place issues get attention-grabbing. There isnt a lot in the best way of analysis learning bodybuilders who do yoga particularly. Nonetheless, theres a big physique of literature learning how stretching interacts with hypertrophy and weight room efficiency, and you may apply a lot of that rationale to yoga and bodybuilding. 

For a few years, standard knowledge (what you may consider as bro-science) in weight rooms stated that you simply shouldnt combine stretching with heavy lifting or sport-related actions. Sure research have displayed that static stretching as in, holding a joint in a stretched place with out shifting for a time frame can scale back subsequent train efficiency. Some papers have gone so far as to state that stretching earlier than you raise can negatively impression hypertrophy. (1)

Nonetheless, the scientific neighborhood has since taken a extra delicate stance as new analysis has come to gentle. Whereas static stretching straight earlier than weight coaching might dampen your energy or energy potential, the impact seems to dissipate if you happen to merely wait a couple of minutes earlier than hitting the weights. Then again, if you happen to carry out dynamic stretches, you may even carry out higher. (2)

So, in real-world phrases, your positive factors in all probability wont undergo a lot if you happen to stretch earlier than (or after) your exercise, until youre going from a stretch straight right into a high-effort set. You’ve gotten a inexperienced gentle to follow a little bit of yoga as a part of your warm-up or cool-down. However what about stretching between units? 

Inter-Set Stretching for Hypertrophy

The idea of inter-set stretching is gaining quite a lot of momentum within the evidence-based health neighborhood. Some bodybuilding coaches and opponents tout it as an efficient (albeit area of interest and as-of-yet unconfirmed) technique of boosting muscle progress throughout a exercise. 

Some latest proof has proven {that a} 20-second stint of stretching throughout downtime between units of resistance coaching might modestly enhance muscle thickness. (3) Nonetheless, the writers famous that their findings werent conclusive. Different research have proven no definitive profit or hurt. (4)

Theres a common consensus that between-set behaviors are extremely contextual to your targets. (5) If youre chasing mass, some temporary stretches between units might assist. Nonetheless, if you happen to practice for each energy and dimension, you might be higher served by truly resting throughout your rests.

Centered downtime, throughout which you mentally put together in your subsequent set (as an alternative of turning to your smartphone out of boredom), is your greatest guess if you wish to produce essentially the most power on each train. 

Your Takeaways

  • Yoga and bodybuilding arent solely dissimilar. Each actions contain taking your muscle tissue by means of their full vary of movement, usually in opposition to resistance.
  • Yoga and stretching usually are not the identical; yoga is supposed to enhance greater than the pliability of your joints. 
  • Stretching (whether or not as a standalone exercise or as a part of a yoga circulation) might negatively have an effect on your energy or energy within the instant time period, however if you happen to wait a couple of minutes earlier than hitting the weights the results largely dissipate. 
  • Doing stretches or a yoga circulation as a part of your warm-up or cool-down isnt more likely to diminish the outcomes of your exercise in any means.
  • Stretching between units of resistance coaching might enhance hypertrophy a bit, however dont put all of your eggs into that basket. 

Advantages of Yoga for Bodybuilding

Yoga is without doubt one of the greatest issues you are able to do to enhance your efficiency within the weight room. One of the best half, although, is that you simply dont should contort your self right into a pretzel to reap the advantages the follow offers. Some low-level static or dynamic stretching earlier than (or after) your exercise can do wonders. 

Helps You Entry Extra Vary of Movement

Broadly talking, when coaching for hypertrophy you need to at all times try to  by means of its full vary of movement. If, for instance, you could have extraordinarily tight hamstrings, you might not be capable to entry essentially the most worthwhile components of the Romanian deadlift throughout your leg exercises.

Yoga will help you entry the boundaries of your vary of movement by stretching the tissue with out the specter of a heavy load. When you have tight hammies, you might be hesitant to sink right into a deep hip hinge with a heavy barbell in your arms, limiting your muscle-building potential.

Three people doing yoga.
Credit score: WAWA WARIS / Shutterstock

Stretching a good muscle is a needed precursor to loading it with weight. You dont need to stretch a tissue previous its typical tolerance for the primary time with further resistance as nicely. 

Gives Psychological Readability

Your mentality impacts your exercises extra deeply than you in all probability notice. If youve been within the bodybuilding recreation for some time, youre actually conscious of the peaks and valleys that have a tendency to come back with devoted physique growth. 

Working towards a method of yoga that encourages psychological leisure and readability of thought, similar to Hatha or Yin, can aid you unwind after an exhausting leg or again exercise whereas additionally stretching out the tissues you simply educated. 

You might also take into account doing a little yoga in your off days as a mild type of energetic restoration. This will help stimulate nutrient supply to broken tissues and assist you to mentally focus in your targets. 

Improves Blood Circulate

Good circulation is essential for making certain that your dietary efforts dont go to waste. This issues extra for restoration than total muscle acquire, however all issues stored equal, extra blood circulation is healthier than much less. 

 Four people doing yoga.
Credit score: El Nariz / Shutterstock

Yoga might be significantly helpful in-between exercises as a way of conducting this with out taxing your physique an excessive amount of. If youre touring and are caught in a small airplane or automobile seat for hours, otherwise you work a desk job, doing a quick yoga circulation can actually open you up and prime your physique for coaching

Burns (Some) Energy

If youre reducing (whether or not beneath the supervision of a physique coach or not), each calorie burned makes your life a bit simpler. Nonetheless, you in all probability shouldnt pile on the cardio to the detriment of your efficiency and sanity. 

The deeper you get right into a fats loss section, the extra economical it’s essential to be about your bodily exercise selections. A reasonable to vigorous yoga session will burn a good variety of energy with out placing a lot pressure in your joints or asking an excessive amount of of your muscle tissue. 

Greatest Yoga Poses for Bodybuilding

If youve dedicated to creating yoga part of your outside-the-gym bodybuilding routine, the next step is to pick out the proper poses and stretches. Physique athletes have a tendency to carry tightness and pressure in lots of the identical locations; opening and loosening your chest, hips, hamstrings, and thoracic backbone is essential.

Bow Pose

In case you practice for energy and dimension, you in all probability bench with lots of the hallmarks of a powerlifter, together with a correct spinal arch. To carry out higher and extra comfortably on the bench, you possibly can loosen up your pecs and hips concurrently with the bow pose.

Even when the barbell bench isnt a part of your chest day, you need to nonetheless stretch out your pecs and entrance delts both earlier than or after your exercise. Restricted, hunched shoulders compress your physique and make your torso seem extra slender. 

Upward-Going through Canine

Your decrease again could also be extra of a assist construction than a mirror muscle, however you need to nonetheless practice all of it the identical if you wish to develop a killer posterior chain and in the end deliver out that coveted Christmas tree. The upward-facing canine pose is an effective way to introduce some end-range stimulation to your decrease again and hip flexors

Not solely will the upward-facing canine alleviate stress in your decrease again and hips, its a sensible plug-and-play possibility. You may maintain this pose for a couple of beats between units of nearly any motion throughout your exercise to maintain your backbone feeling good. 

Yoga Push-Up

Not each good yoga pose requires you to carry your self nonetheless on the ground together with your joints snarled in a knot. You may mix some dynamic pre-activation motion with a posterior chain stretch with the yoga push-up.

This drill will activate your pecs, delts, and triceps whereas stretching out your higher again, glutes, and hamstrings. Its extra vigorous than a normal yoga pose, so take into account incorporating this one as a part of your warm-up protocol. 

Pigeon Pose

If you wish to construct the largest, beefiest legs doable, the very last thing you need is stiff hips that forestall you from sinking right into a deep squat or hinge. The pigeon pose is without doubt one of the greatest choices on the market for mobilizing your hips and decrease again.

Probably the most worthwhile facet of the pigeon pose is that it lets you stretch and open one hip at a time. Sure bilateral (thats two-legged) poses can masks imbalances in flexibility or pressure, however you need to discover immediately when you’ve got any side-to-side discrepancies between your hips.

Open E book Pose

You want an unrestricted and cell backbone from cranium to sacrum if you wish to correctly practice the numerous muscle tissue in your again. Additional, if you happen to work a desk job or spend quite a lot of time sitting in the identical place in the course of the day, you possibly can simply arrive on the health club feeling twisted up and much from able to smash a again exercise. Treatment this with the open ebook pose to loosen up your thoracic backbone

Be aware that this pose does comprise some twisting on the backbone, which is on no account inherently dangerous however might expose your vertebrae to a brand new stressor. Regardless, this pose is great for getting your backbone able to bear load.  

Swole and Flexy

Bodybuilding is as a lot performative artwork as it’s a aggressive sport. Constructing your greatest physique is simply half the battle you must know how one can present it off as nicely. To take action, you want the pliability to hit all the proper poses.

Thats the place the worth of yoga shines for the bodybuilder. Whether or not you utilize it to limber up earlier than a exercise, get better a bit faster in your off days, or clear your head earlier than a brand new section of coaching, your time on the mats can be well-spent when it comes time to hit the weights. 


  1. Junior, R. M., Berton, R., de Souza, T. M., Chacon-Mikahil, M. P., & Cavaglieri, C. R. (2017). Impact of the pliability coaching carried out instantly earlier than resistance coaching on muscle hypertrophy, most energy and suppleness. European journal of utilized physiology, 117(4), 767774. 
  2. Yamaguchi, T., & Ishii, Ok. (2005). Results of static stretching for 30 seconds and dynamic stretching on leg extension energy. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 19(3), 677683.
  3. Van Each, D. W., Coleman, M., Rosa, A., Zambrano, H., Plotkin, D., Torres, X., Mercado, M., De Souza, E. O., Alto, A., Oberlin, D. J., Vigotsky, A. D., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2022). Loaded inter-set stretch might selectively improve muscular diversifications of the plantar flexors. PloS one, 17(9), e0273451. 
  4. Wadhi, T., Barakat, C., Evangelista, A. L., Pearson, J. R., Anand, A. S., Morrison, T. E. A., O’Sullivan, J., Walters, J., & Souza, E. O. (2022). Loaded Inter-set Stretching for Muscular Diversifications in Skilled Males: Is the Hype Actual?. Worldwide journal of sports activities drugs, 43(2), 168176. 
  5. Latella, C., Grgic, J., & Van der Westhuizen, D. (2019). Impact of Interset Methods on Acute Resistance Coaching Efficiency and Physiological Responses: A Systematic Evaluation. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 33 Suppl 1, S180S193. 

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