The fact that you’re asking this question means you’re on the right track to staying fit and trim. Separately, yoga and strength training are each beneficial in their own way. Together, they become a fitness powerhouse.
In general, you should arrange your workout to lift weights for strength training before participating in yoga. The static stretching of yoga provides an excellent counter and muscle release after the explosive nature of weightlifting.
Having a toned body and a healthy lifestyle is your goal, right? Yoga and weights can get you there. Like the proverbial chicken and egg question, does it really matter which comes first in a workout? The research says it does, and here’s why.
Yoga or Weightlifting First?
The science of weightlifting is basically about tearing down muscle fibers so that as the muscle repairs itself, it increases in size and quantity of cells. The buildup in muscle mass actually comes during the healing process, not during the workout.
When you lift weights first during a workout, you shorten and tighten the muscles as part of this teardown and buildup process. The next step is to begin the repair and recovery those injured muscles need.
According to Very Well Fit, a couple of ways to promote muscle repair include:
- Stretching: Gentle stretching to release the tension on the muscles
- Active Recovery: Easy, gentle movements to repair and refuel the muscles
That’s where yoga comes in. The goal of yoga is to relax tension in the body with movements and positions that engage all the muscles, even the seldom-used ones. Yoga is about breathing calmly while slowly stretching and loosening muscles and connective tissues.
Following up a strength training workout with yoga provides your muscles and tissues with a cooldown time to stretch and loosen up those tight places. In a nutshell, strengthening before lengthening means lift weights, then stretch.
The Benefits of Doing Yoga and Weights
You might think that doing yoga and lifting weights are mutually exclusive. One is relaxing and calm, the other calls for bursts of power and strength. Well, you would be mistaken.
Individually, yoga and weightlifting each have several benefits that can help you maintain an excellent level of fitness. Practiced together, they complement each other and provide balance to your training regimen.
|Benefits of Yoga||Benefits of Weight Training|
|Promotes looser muscles and reduces soreness||Develops muscle size and strength|
|Increases flexibility and mobility||Promotes and increases bone density|
|Engages underused muscles||Boosts metabolism|
|Reinforces and strengthens connective tissues||Improves joint flexibility|
|Increases lung capacity and circulation||Tones and firms the body|
|Improves balance||Improves balance|
So, putting it all together—lifting then yoga-ing—addresses the body’s need for a strong core and gives you the best of both worlds: strength and flexibility.
Why You Should Combine Yoga and Weights
Often, when you pursue one form of exercise almost exclusively, you can end up with an imbalance. All weights and no stretching can lead to injury and poor posture. All yoga and no strength training may affect your muscles’ endurance during a yoga session.
Overall fitness, according to the Mayo Clinic, is best achieved by incorporating five elements into your fitness routine:
Flexibility and Stretching
While there are other exercise combinations to help get you there, combining weight lifting with yoga touches on all five elements, offering a very effective, full-body workout.
How Do You Combine Yoga and Weightlifting?
We’ve already established that combining weightlifting and yoga is an excellent way to achieve overall fitness. But how you go about it is the real question.
Let’s take a look at what you need to do when adding either one to your weekly routine.
Adding Yoga to a Weights Routine
A typical full-body workout usually takes about 30 minutes. If you’re currently working out with weights 2-3 times a week, you may do a full-body workout one of those days and then hone in on a particular area, like legs or arms, the other times.
Keep in mind that a standard yoga class lasts about an hour, so if you plan to pair weights and yoga in one trip to the gym, you’ll need to allow a couple of hours to accomplish both workouts.
If you’re new to yoga, you’ll definitely want to attend a few yoga classes to learn some basic techniques and poses. Once you feel comfortable, you’ll be able to finish up your weight workout with a yoga cooldown stretch.
Depending on whether a day is an “arm day” or a “leg day,” choose yoga poses that stretch the worked muscles and add in one or two others to address your unworked muscles. This will help achieve a sense of balance overall. According to Ace Fitness, some yoga poses to incorporate into your routine are:
Modified Revolved Crescent
Extended Triangle Pose
Supported Lizard Pose
Supported Pyramid Pose
Cow Face Pose
As you continue to incorporate yoga into your fitness routine, you may find that yoga’s emotional and mental benefits become more important to you. If so, another option is to time your weight training to take place before a scheduled yoga class.
Adding yoga throughout the week, even on days you don’t lift weights, can help balance your daily life through toned muscles and calm peace of mind.
Adding Weights to a Yoga Routine
You’ve been practicing yoga for a while now but want to take it up a notch. Gaining strength through consistent weight training will help you build the muscle you need to hold poses longer.
Lucky for you, you already know and experience the benefits of yoga’s focus on mindfulness, calm, and peace.
Strengths training can be done at the gym with the full complement of free-weights, resistance machines, and other exercise equipment. It can also be accomplished at home with handheld weights, resistance bands, and simple weight-bearing exercises.
When Should You Combine Weights and Yoga?
Honestly, it’s always a good idea to combine yoga and weights. Together, they give you an all-around workout that promotes comprehensive fitness.
- If you’ve only been lifting weights, you may have discovered that you’re focusing on larger muscles and neglecting smaller ones. Too much focus on these larger muscles can increase your chance of injury and result in poor posture.
- If you’ve only been doing yoga, you may have found that you don’t always have the necessary strength to hold positions long enough. You need stamina and endurance.
Either one of these situations can lead you to add another focus to your fitness routine. That’s when you should look into combining weights and yoga.
Factors to Consider When Combining Weights and Yoga
Are you already doing something to stay in shape? You may hit the gym to lift weights regularly or have already been practicing yoga for a while. That’s definitely a good foundation to build on. Possibly you’re not doing anything right now and just want to get started on the road to a healthier lifestyle. Kudos to you!
Whatever the case, we’ve established the idea that varying your exercise routine is an excellent step to take. Enter the dynamic duo of weights and yoga.
Whether you’re a total newbie or a weights person adding yoga and vice versa, there are a few things to consider when you combine these two polar opposites.
It’s okay if you’re not in the best shape or you’ve got an imbalance in your routine. That’s why you’re reading this article, right? With different starting points, your path to pulling off this dynamic duo may not be the same as the next person’s.
For the Newbie
If you’re just starting out on a fitness plan, it makes sense to go slow and build up to more frequent, more intense workouts.
It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise routine, just to be on the safe side.
Consider starting with either yoga or weights, not both. Choose one area and work on it exclusively. Get used to the demands on your body, the soreness, and the recovery time you need before adding the second form of exercise after a few weeks.
For the Fitness Buff
You may have been doing yoga for years or lifting weights since high school. Either way, adding a totally different kind of exercise to your regimen requires patience and thought.
You’re probably pretty adept and fit in your current regimen. Incorporating something new will challenge that fitness by using different muscles or breathing techniques. Recognize the learning curve, take it slow, and you’ll be fine.
Frequency of Workouts
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderately intense aerobic exercise every week. That’s the bare minimum. For more benefit, add more time, say 5 hours per week if possible.
For strength training, one research study shows that you should be lifting weights at least twice per week to build muscle effectively. Well + Good suggests participating in 3-5 yoga sessions per week to increase flexibility and build muscle.
So, you can see that combining yoga and weights is going to take some time and dedication.
The most effective way to get in shape and stay in shape is to establish a routine. Yoga and weight training will definitely improve from consistent practice. Like most things, you get better at them, the more you do them.
Working off the idea that it’s better to lift weights before doing yoga, you’ve got a couple of options to consider:
Weights and Yoga on the Same Day
It’s perfectly okay to incorporate both weights and yoga on the same day. You’re going to be sore, but following up a weightlifting session with yoga can help alleviate DOMS—Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
While you can work in a full yoga class after weights, you don’t have to if it just doesn’t fit your schedule. You’ll still benefit and lessen any soreness by adding a few yoga stretches after your resistance training.
Weights and Yoga on Alternate Days
Keeping your workouts on separate days may help you to focus more closely on each one. Trying to find time to fit both in on the same day may mean you actually shortchange them both.
Yoga, at its core, is about more than physical activity. The positions and poses are meant to help the yogi seek inner peace and calm and promote emotional and mental well-being.
Setting up a schedule of alternating workout days allows plenty of time to fully benefit from the soothing effects of a full yoga session or two between weight training.
Essential Athletic Gear for Yoga and Weights
Workouts that are so different in nature, as weights and yoga are, typically have specialized equipment, gear, and apparel. Even eating habits and nutritional supplements can have an impact on your performance.
Whether you’re adding one activity or the other or starting from the couch, there are several aspects of juggling two types of workouts that you should keep in mind.
Thank goodness you don’t have to have a separate wardrobe when you combine resistance training with yoga. Similar apparel works for both. That’s excellent news for the budget and your gym bag. You can maximize your gym time without having to change clothes between weights and yoga.
So, what are the basics in fitness apparel? It’s essentially the same for men and women. As far as tops go, keep this gear in mind:
- Dry-fit Tee: Best if you prefer a slightly looser fit (Men’s or Women’s)
- Tank top: Racerback style offers arms freedom of movement
- Sports Bra: Keep the chest locked in tight with a well-fitting bra
- Hoodie: Use during workouts on cooler days or for a post-workout cooldown
For bottoms, you’ll likely sport one of the following:
- Compression leggings: Available in short or long lengths; a high-waisted pair keeps your bum covered during bending and stretching.
- Athletic shorts: For those who prefer a looser fit. Look for shorts with an inner lining for more modesty and support
When it comes to shoes, unless you’re a serious heavy lifter, you can do fine with cross-trainers for men or women. However, if you do get into powerlifting, it’s a good idea to invest in weightlifting shoes.
When it’s time for yoga, just slip off your shoes. Yoga is typically done barefoot or with yoga socks.
For both yoga and strength training, there are accessories you can use during your workout. While not absolutely necessary, these fitness accessories can help you get the most from your efforts in most cases:
|Weightlifting Belt – back support for men or women||Yoga Socks – anti-slip and better grip on the mat|
|Gloves – full palm protection and grip||Gloves – anti-slip hand and wrist support|
|Wrist Wraps and Straps – additional support and allowance for heavier weights||Knee Pads – relieve stress on the knees|
Now that you’ve got the right fitness gear and apparel to combine your yoga and weights workouts, you’ve got to decide where you plan to work out and what equipment you need.
Obviously, for those who don’t have the time, space, or budget to invest in a dedicated fitness area at home, a gym membership may be the answer. A gym has the different types of weights you’ll need—free weights, hand weights, benches, weight machines—plus trainers who can help you.
With a gym membership, you can use the weights and also have the opportunity to participate in yoga classes offered multiple times per day and week.
Gyms often provide the equipment you need for yoga (mat, blocks, knee pads), but you’ll be sharing those sweaty pieces with other yogis. If that grosses you out, read on.
Basic Fitness Equipment
Working out with yoga and weights at home, or some gym and home combination, means you’ll need some fitness equipment.
Good news—not every item is essential. A few handheld weights and resistance bands, along with a yoga mat and strap, may suffice for the casual fitness buff.
Those who are more serious about either weightlifting or yoga, or both, may want to spring for the bigger weights or all-in-one machine and the yoga block and bolster.
|Handheld Weights – offered in a variety of sizes||Mat – cushioned surface for comfort and cleanliness; available in various thickness|
|Resistance Bands – great for toning||Block – stability and support for poses|
|Weight Bench – options for horizontal only or adjustable||Bolster – tension relief, spine support, meditation|
|Cushioned Floor Mat – reduces stress on legs and knees||Knee Mat – extra cushion for knees|
|Barbell Weights – focuses on larger muscle groups||Strap – assistance with poses and stretches|
|All-in-one Machine – multifunctional for lots of exercise options|
Combining Yoga and Weights with a Healthier Lifestyle
If you’ve been lifting weights or doing yoga solely, you’ve probably figured out the eating habits that work for you. Now that you are interested in adding one or the other to your exercise routine, you may find that your nutritional needs will change.
Regardless of what you do, it’s vital to drink plenty of water after any workout to avoid dehydration and prevent muscle cramping. It helps replenish the fluid you sweat out during your workout.
But what steps should you take to ensure you’re getting the proper nutrition now that your body is being asked to switch back and forth from weights to yoga in a single day or every other day or so?
Best practices for weightlifters and yoga folks can differ. Finding the right balance in healthy eating is essential for good overall fitness.
Nutrition for Strength Training
A healthy diet is essential anytime, especially if you wish to bulk up and add muscle. The bodybuilder’s diet, even for those who are casual weightlifters, typically includes fruits and vegetables, nuts, and some lean protein.
Overall totals for protein and caloric intake will be more than for those who don’t regularly exercise. The extra nutrition helps build muscle.
Nutrition for Yoga
Yoga is historically known for its emphasis on healthy eating to promote all-around good health. One research study found that regular yoga practice encouraged participants to eat fewer snacks, junk food, or fast food, and increased awareness of better nutrition.
Yoga’s emphasis on mindfulness and emotional well-being also contributed to the adoption of healthier eating habits. In fact, many yogis are vegetarian or vegan as a result. Yoga brings to mind the thought: more vegetables and fruit, less meat.
|Pre-Workout||Choose more carbs and less protein||Light meals or snack with simple carbs, minimal protein, fruit|
|Post-Workout||Go heavier on the protein to rebuild muscle and add some carbs for balance||Eat simple carbs and more protein for muscle recovery|
If you are adding strength training to your regular yoga exercise, include more protein in your diet, especially after a workout, to help rebuild and repair muscles. If you’re adding yoga to your regular weight lifting routine, consider adding some simple carbs like fruit to your pre-workout snack.
For many a fitness buff, organic foods are like the Holy Grail of nutrition. Eating organic is seen as the best way to ensure a healthy body and lifestyle. Longtime yoga fans are saying, “Welcome to our world!”
Time Magazine Online offers four reasons to consider eating organic:
- Fewer pesticides and heavy metals
- More healthy fats
- No antibiotics or synthetic hormones
- More antioxidants
Most sports promote eating healthy, regular workouts, and avoiding toxic chemicals like nicotine or illegal drugs. Strength training and yoga are no exception.
Eating organic may help take your fitness to the next level by eliminating added hormones and pesticides from your intake. However, organic foods are usually pricier than their non-organic counterparts. Going totally organic can put a dent in the budget.
When you combine weightlifting and yoga and also want to improve your nutritional input by eating organically, consider a compromise. Determine what foods you eat the most. For those items, consider buying and eating organic. Frequently used foods for this exercise combo may include:
- For weight training: eggs, milk, and chicken for protein.
- For yoga: leafy vegetables and fruit.
Nutrition is a key component and the basic foundation of healthy living and fitness training, such as yoga and weightlifting. Still, some athletes seek out supplements as a way of enhancing performance.
Taking supplements is considered an acceptable form of upping your game, so to speak. They’re not for everyone, and you certainly don’t need to take a laundry list of them to see some improvement in performance.
Take a look at these common supplements used by weightlifters and yogis to see what might work for you:
|Supplements for Yoga||Supplements for Weightlifting|
|Multivitamin – a vitamin cocktail of B’s, K, Iron, Zinc, and more||Creatine – supplies energy for muscles|
|Probiotic – healthy gut; less bloating||Beta-alanine – reduces muscle fatigue|
|Protein Powder – promotes muscle repair||Protein Powder – promotes muscle repair|
|Anti-inflammatory Herbs – turmeric and ginger||Branched-chain Amino Acids – builds and repairs muscle|
|Glucosamine – improves joint health||Antioxidants – prevents inflammation|
There are certainly other supplements out there—HBD and caffeine come to mind. The point is not to overload your body with a lot of supplements. Based on what’s important to you, choose a couple and see if they help your yoga or weightlifting performance.
Remember, supplements are supposed to supplement. That is, they enhance the already healthy eating you’re doing, not replace it.
Lifting weights and doing yoga…either one can leave you with sore muscles or an aching back. Put them together every week, and your entire body may hurt in places you didn’t know you had.
When the soreness comes, and it will, there are a few medical products that may help alleviate your aching.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Reduce pain from muscle aches. Choose from acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs—ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve).
- Aspercreme: Rub it on joints and muscles. It numbs them and brings temporary relief.
- Magnesium Body Butter: Body butter relieves joint stiffness and muscle aches.
- Heating Pad: Plug it in and apply to sore muscles. The heat will ease the aches.
- Massage Gun: With multiple speed settings, a massage gun can relieve muscle soreness and tension.
Yoga and weights go hand in hand. Taking time for both every week is beneficial to your comprehensive health and fitness. The best approach is to use yoga as a recovery exercise after the strain and work your muscles undergo during weightlifting.
With strategic workout sessions, the right fitness equipment, and healthy eating, you are sure to see improvements to your overall fitness, as well as your performance in each area, in just a short time.