✅ Fact Checked
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If you’re trying to gain weight and muscle with low-impact exercise, you might be wondering: “Can you expect weight gain from yoga?” While weight lifting and resistance training are some of the best exercises to gain weight and increase lean muscle mass, these are not the options for everyone.
Here’s the good news! The right type of yoga (think Ashtanga, Bikram, and Power Yoga) paired with high-calorie diet can help you increase weight and build muscle. If you get creative with weights, resistance bands, and sandbags, you can expect to see efficient muscle growth and faster weight gain.
Wondering what the best yoga weight gain is? Full-body yoga poses that engage several muscle groups at the same time will bring you the best results. These include: Goddess pose, Chair, Locust, Warrior II and High to Low Plank.
1/5 Can yoga help you gain weight?
Yes, you can experience weight gain and muscle growth from doing only yoga. However, whether you actually gain weight and strength depends on several factors such as:
- type of yoga you practice
- the intensity of your practice
- duration and consistency of your yoga routine
- your diet
Research shows that consistent yoga practice is effective at increasing lower and upper body strength as well as improving endurance and lowering body fat. Practitioners in the studies mostly took part in vigorous yoga styles such as Ashtanga, Bikram as well as performed strenuous yoga flows such as Sun Salutations.
Apart from building muscle mass and improving strength, yoga is also a great practice to do to improve body control and build the essential brain-body connection. The more aware we are of the muscles in our bodies, the more efficiently we can use them in all other activities and sports that we’re doing. Yoga will help you get better at balancing, at squatting, and improving spinal stability, meaning you can increase your weight gains while lifting weights, running, or dancing.
If you’re wondering which is better for weight gain – yoga or exercise, the answer would be BOTH yoga and exercise are great for gaining weight and muscle. However, you may need to get more creative with your yoga practice as well as welcome extra props such as free weights, resistance bands, and even a yoga wheel. You will also see slower weight gain results from only doing yoga than you would when doing resistance exercise or combing yoga with exercise.
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2/5 How exactly do I gain weight from doing yoga?
To gain weight from yoga, you’ll need two essential things:
- practice the type of yoga that will get your body into an anabolic state, meaning do yoga that will challenge your muscles and endurance. Here is where your current fitness level comes into play. For some, moderate-paced Hatha yoga may offer enough stimulus for hypertrophy and muscle growth while others will need to practice fast Power yoga or even throw some weights for added resistance.
- caloric surplus. You need to eat more calories than you expend in order to gain weight and build muscle mass. You should focus on getting the right nutrients that will help your body repair itself and build lean muscle mass. This includes lean protein, fiber from veggies and fruits as well as energy-dense foods such as nuts and fats.
3/5 Can yoga make you bulky?
In most cases and in most people, doing yoga only will not result in the development of bulky muscles.
To get bulky, you’ll need to progressively overload your muscles, meaning that you’ll need to increase the intensity of your exercises over time. With progressive overload, your muscles will tear and get repaired, thus getting thicker and heavier as a result of damage and healing.
In yoga, we mostly work with our own body weight, which makes it challenging to infinitely overload our muscles. We can of course increase the intensity, volume, number of repetitions, sets, or length. However, in the end, it won’t even closely compare to the possibilities we have while using extra props such as bands and weights.
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4/5 Why am I gaining weight doing yoga?
If weight gain is not one of your goals, but you find your weight increasing despite hitting the mat regularly, then you might want to take a closer look at the intensity of your yoga practice and eating habits. Specifically, take a look at whether you’re in the habit of eating back the calories you supposedly burnt during your yoga practice.
So how many calories does a yoga practice burn?
A 125-pound person will burn roughly 120 calories in 30 minutes of Hatha yoga, according to Harvard Health Publications. To put things in perspective, 120 calories is roughly one big apple.
The problem is that we often overestimate how many calories we are burning during a certain physical activity. Fitness trackers, which might seem useful for exercising, also make the same mistake, overestimating the calorie burn up to 93%. So if you think you’ve burnt 500 calories, there’s a high chance that you’ve burnt only 250.
If you’re often “eating back” the calories you think you’ve burnt rather than what you’ve actually burnt, you might soon see that instead of maintaining or losing weight by doing yoga (if that’s your goal), the number on your weight scale increases.
5/5 Will I gain weight after stopping yoga?
Many individuals are concerned about gaining weight if they stop practicing, or if their stress levels rise when they stop doing yoga. The truth is that simply stopping doing yoga will likely have no negative consequences and won’t likely result in weight gain.
That being said, suddenly quitting yoga is a major lifestyle change, especially if you’ve been practicing for a long time.
Depending on how rigorously you were adhering to traditional yoga principles regarding diet as well as how much activity you were getting from your yoga practice can trigger certain bodily changes, including weight gain.
If you burn a lot of calories with your yoga practice and suddenly quit without replacing yoga with another movement or exercise, you will likely see your weight slightly increase.
Your diet also plays a key role in whether you gain weight after stopping yoga or not. If you follow yogic diet principles such as eating moderately, listening to body cues and avoiding overeating, but decide to overhaul your diet along with quitting your physical practice, you might also experience some weight gain.
Which yoga is best for gaining weight? 5 muscle-building yoga poses
To increase weight and build strength with yoga, choose strenuous and vigorous yoga styles. These may include: Power Yoga, Ashtanga, Hot Yoga/Bikram, Baptiste yoga, Vinyasa. Hybrid yoga such as yoga with free weights or ankle weights will add an extra challenge and make the process of building muscle mass and gaining weight faster.
To build muscle with yoga, try focusing on full-body yoga poses that engage major muscle groups and cause instant burn 🔥.
Chair To Goddess Flow
This move works three major lower body muscles – hamstrings, quads, and glutes while also engaging your core and upper back aka rhomboids.
You can hold each position for a few seconds for intense muscle burn or flow between the poses to get your heart rate up.
High Plank to Low Plank Flow
This High to Low Plank flow will give you a full body workout in a minute.
From High Plank simply lower onto your right elbow, then left until you are in a Forearm Plank. Hold for two seconds and lift back up into High Plank. Make sure to alternate between your left and right side while lowering into Low Plank and lifting back into High.
Warrior II with a block
This variation of Warrior II will work your glutes and adductors while keeping your shoulders active and engaged. Here’s a suggestion on how you can flow in and out of this yoga pose to match the movement with the breath:
- Inhale as you straighten the front knee and press firmly into the block overhead.
- Exhale and bend the front knee while lowering the block to your eye level.
Boat pose is an amazing stabilizing and strengthening yoga pose. It engages hip flexors that get stiff due to prolonged sitting as well as firms up the front and back core. To ramp up your boat, try flowing between Boat and Low Boat poses:
- Exhale as you lower your lower back to the mat. Your legs and your torso will lower as well but make sure to keep your head, shoulders and feet off the mat.
- Inhale as you bring your body back up into a V shape.
The Locust pose strengthens and brings blood flow to your whole posterior chain: from the neck to your calves. It’s also a great ypga pose to tone your yoga buttocks, firm up your core and open the chest.