Yoga For Muscle Gain

The benefits of yoga practice range from losing fat to touching your toes, but how exactly does doing down dog make you have bigger guns?

In this post, we'll explain the science, suggested modality, and optimal frequency for lean body mass gain when adding yoga to your wellness & strength training program.

From my own personal experience of 10,000 sessions in over 9 years of training clients in gyms, I've gotten really good at telling when glycogen has left the building. It's a much different feeling than low electrolytes, dehydration, or general fatigue from traditional training.

This past weekend I was sitting in my car trying to hold a gallon of water after finishing a 75 minute hot yoga class.

That's when ish got real. I couldn't hold up my arm.

A good example of muscular glycogen depletion is when you tell your hand to hold something and it can't, or when you try to walk up stairs after leg day and it feels like your legs are dancing to M.C. Hammer all by themselves.

How does being depleted of muscle glycogen mean your going to get big gains?

Depending on where you are in your training cycle, we know that the muscle spindle reacts well to new stimuli like H.I.I.T, varied intensities, and traditional strength training, but what happens when you're stuck on a plateau from too much slow twitch activation? (suboptimal cardio &/or power loading)

In walks power yoga to save you from getting sad and eating 8 Quest bars while watching neflix.

From the hundreds of styles in yoga modalities, I personally can vouch for the top 2 LBM gain versions being a modified power vinyasa and intensive hatha.

Food & Intensity: When timing your nutrients immediately (15-45min) after the practice, you'll essentially drive your body into an anabolic state; imperative for gaining lean muscle. You should not see much in the way of fat gains, and the majority of calories you'll eat will be directed towards repairing and growing your muscles.

If you did your homework via trial and error, and the practice is taught by a mindful instructor who challenges you to add difficulty, then the intrinsic musculature around your pelvic floor, abdominals, and posterior chain (glutes, hams, paraspinals) should be wicked sore later.

Your goal: A shortage of fuel substrates within the muscle fiber & accumulation of metabolites within the muscle fiber. (ATP, Glycogen, & Creatine)

How to know its happening: Your lungs won't be sore tomorrow, your muscles will be. If not, you need to change your movement selections and progressions. Your teach should know! (bad sign if they don't)

Muscle exhaustion during yoga practice will most likely happen in isometric contractions sans sculpt class. The longer you hold, the more it burns. Without diving into a swimming pool of exercise terminology, just focus on holding a pose to exhaustion, then switch positions and repeat.

Additional Anabolic benefits of Yoga:

  • Parasympathetic nerves conglomerate around our nasal/sinus area. Focused deep breathing from a quality yoga practice delivers a truckload more relaxation effects than drinking a beer to relax. (no matter how good the IPA tastes)
  • A one hour block of repetitive parasympathetic fiber activation yields massive recovery benefits from life-stress and the clearing of lactic acids from your other strength training gym-based sessions. Better sleep equals better recovery. Your muscles grow at night!
  • Adding in a power yoga practice 1-3 times per week can help your body maintain optimal homeostasis during the natural cyclic timing blocks of growth and repair in our physiology. (stimulates rest and digest activity)
  • Hard gainers will find increased flexibility from yoga which in turn leads to more actin/myosin contraction and LBM gain.
  • Golden ticket: Increased ROM yields more size and yes, bigger biceps.

“Whatever, yoga is for girls”

Put down the protein shaker and get outside your comfort zone. Societal acceptance (you should care more about growth than what people think anyways) and trending towards men & yoga is on the rise.

Can yoga make your bench go up 10 pounds next week? Train outside the box and see my friend.


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About the author: Josh Trent, NASM-CES, CPT, HLC, is a corrective exercise specialist and participatory sports technology expert with over 9 years in the fitness industry. His passion is to accelerate wellness evolution through the power of the Digital Health and Quantified Self movements. You can follow him on Twitter @wellnessforce, or through his website


About Josh Trent

Josh Trent lives in Austin, Texas with his love Carrie Michelle, son Novah, daughter Nayah + a cat named Cleo. He is the host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath + Wellness Program. Josh has spent the past 20+ years as a trainer, researcher + facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. Helping humans LIBERATE their mental, emotional, physical, spiritual + financial self through podcasts, programs + global community that believe in optimizing our potential to live life well.

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8 Responses

  1. Thanks Josh! I did my first class last week almost died hahah but seriously I loved how you wrote about not holding your water me too! WIll share with my crew man

  2. Thanks Josh! I did my first class last week almost died hahah but seriously I loved how you wrote about not holding your water me too! WIll share with my crew man

  3. Awesome article. Any strategy aimed at power and muscle will only benefit from added stretching and static exercises (which yoga is).

  4. Awesome article. Any strategy aimed at power and muscle will only benefit from added stretching and static exercises (which yoga is).

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