Why do so few men take yoga classes offered at gyms? Are they afraid it will stunt muscle growth or interfere with bench pressing?
The heaviest deadlifters won’t be caught dead in a yoga class. What’s up with this?
Some Reasons Men Who Build Muscle Won’t Take Yoga
• Many men think it will interfere with their muscle building goals.
• They believe it requires flexibility that they’re not close to having.
• They think they’ll look really awkward, big muscles and all, sitting and bending among a group of svelte women.
• They’re afraid they’ll strain or pull a muscle that’s crucial for their big lifts.
• There’s the belief for some men that yoga is too easy for someone who warms up with a 225 bench press or squats over 300 for reps.
• Some men may feel like they’re wasting their time just “sitting around and stretching.”
• Some male weightlifters actually realize how challenging yoga may be for them. It’s not in their ego to be seen struggling with poses.
• They think that in order for yoga to be effective, it would require more time than they have.
• Stereotypical images of yogis don’t help, causing men to believe this is a discipline for women or lanky aged men in robes.
Fact is, yoga will not impede hypertrophy goals. If anything, it will reduce your risk of low back injuries and improve knee joint integrity. Squats anyone?
Have you reached a stall in your deadlift? Take up yoga and see if that doesn’t reboot your gains. A lot of yoga involves low back work.
Even though there isn’t any metal resistance involved, the poses will challenge the core and strengthen it in a way that more traditional gym exercises (i.e., hanging leg raises, medicine ball twists) will not.
Yoga does not build muscle. But it creates favorable changes in the body that carry over to the bodybuilding environment.
At the time of this article I have taken nine yoga classes. This doesn’t make me a yoga expert, but nine classes are enough for me to realize that this is going to assist with my muscle building endeavors.
I can see it’s going to make it less likely that I’ll strain my back doing heavy deadlifts.
Will yoga quicken gains in my deadlift weight? It’s too soon to tell; but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
I must also say that nine classes are enough for me to know that a yoga class right after intense heavy weightlifting makes my back feel really opened up – a refreshing feeling I’ve never had in my tight, stiff back before.
Yoga Truths that Male Bodybuilders Will Appreciate
During yoga, soft structures are stretched and loosened, allowing for increased blood flow.
Isn’t that what your muscles are crying for after a grueling weightlifting session? Can you say “assists with muscle recovery”?
Many men who are into building muscle do not realize that some yoga poses involve the upper body.
Don’t you think that more flexible shoulder joints, trained by yoga to handle with ease a greater range of motion, will make a rotator cuff injury less likely during your bench presses, dumbbell chest presses, weighted bar dips and any overhead work?
Lifting weights shortens muscles (the concentric phase), while yoga lengthens muscles. The shortening and lengthening of these two disciplines compliment each other.
• Flexibility is not required. It is improved.
• Thinking that being “bendy” is required is like you telling a 90 pound weakling that in order to build muscle, he has to bench 225 on his very first attempt in life. Sounds ridiculous, right?
• One yoga class per week will cause a training effect. The idea that you must spend hours a week doing yoga in order to benefit is akin to thinking you must spend hours a week on just the deadlift in order to benefit.
We all know that one, 45 minute deadlift routine per week will cause a tremendous training effect.
Does your back feel sore or achy after you finish your back workout? If your gym offers yoga classes, schedule your back workout to end right before the yoga class starts. Eat something in between for nourishment (I drink protein powder in juice).
The yoga class will unwind those assaulted muscles and make your low back feel opened up, letting in the blood flow, aiding in recovery.
Do not think for a moment that you’ll be too exhausted to do yoga after lifting weights.
Bodybuilding or powerlifting will warm your body up for yoga, even though yoga has its unique way of improving blood flow and relaxing muscles.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.