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Which is better: yoga or the gym?

17 July 2019
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I’m frequently asked if there is an advantage to weight training over yoga. The answer to this question is two-fold.

Firstly, it has less to do with the physiological benefits of one outweighing the other, and more to do with what you can stick to.

Any movement is better than no movement, so if you can bring yourself to manage one over the other consistently, you have your answer. If you can manage – or even look forward to - three yoga sessions a week but can only face one weight training session a month, then yoga is the best option for you. Adherence is the key here, ultimately you need to find something you enjoy and can stick to so that you make progress towards your goals, whatever they may be.

So, let’s go back to our two-fold answer. I always caveat my advice about adherence with the simple fact that, in my opinion, one necessitates the other.

In order to lift weights, you need flexibility. And in order to hold yoga poses you need strength. And simply from a safety perspective, if you increase flexibility, you must also increase strength in order to maintain joint health and integrity.

I’ll interject again here and say that if performed correctly, weight training through a full ROM (range of movement) can improve flexibility and mobility in a similar way that yoga can, but yoga does so without the progressive load of weight training, which might be more suitable for those requiring a lower impact programme.

Let’s consider the question purely from the perspective of physical transformation - which is of course what our clients are most interested in.

In order to create significant, physical change you must provide the body with a large enough stimulus to elicit a response. There are many ways you can create change through weight training using tempo, load, duration, frequency and intensity. Using this method, a significant change can occur in a shorter period of time. And conversely a smaller stimulus, in this case yoga poses, requires more frequency to elicit a comparable change.

I’d always recommend both, with the following rule of thumb: dedicate the majority of time to training with weights and supplement with yoga.

In order to create a healthy, well-rounded physique, we must apply a varied stimulus. Weight lifting with proper technique and form will produce a well balanced, strong and mobile physique. Yoga will complement any weights training program and improve your performance in all major lifts.

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