Does Yoga Build Muscle? Best Poses For Strength Training

does yoga build muscle

Does yoga build muscle? This is the first question that ever comes to mind when you are looking for a new workout activity to gain strength. We know plenty of benefits of doing yoga, but not many people know that it is also great for strength training. 

Yoga builds muscle just like your typical gym routine does, as it is just a different application of bodyweight exercise. From metabolic stress to progressive overload, strong yoga practice engages these muscles naturally and also helps in maintaining intensity and flow structure.

Benefits of Yoga To Build Muscle 

Yoga may not be the best option for strength training or getting a pack of muscles. It comes with its own benefits over going to the gym. Below we have listed some of the common benefits of yoga.

  • Functional strength – yoga will keep you moving and exerting natural movements. It helps in building muscles in more functional ways instead of isolated movements limited to the gym.
  • Balanced workouts – most of the yoga asana comprise compound movements and sequences to balance different movements with one opposite and equal.
  • Maintain muscle health while building strength – practicing a good stretch after a workout is a habit we all must have. The best part is that yoga has it all covered. 
  • Increase flexibility and muscle mass – increasing muscle mass usually means reduced mobility, but this is not the case in yoga.
  • Low impact – adding more weight to gym bags will take a toll on your joints eventually. However, with yoga, you always practice low-impact exercises for strength training.

How Does Yoga Build Muscle?

Yoga works on three muscle growth mechanisms- progressive overload, metabolic stress, and mechanical damage.

Progressive Overload 

Most people are familiar with the progressive overload concept as it is the core concept behind weightlifting. This is a simple technique where you lift heavy weights, and with time, your body will start building muscles to support excess weight.

Yoga works with the same principle to build muscles. It is not as easy as adding weights to the bar. You have to lift your entire body weight. Progressive overload in yoga is achieved via different poses. 

Your yoga teacher will show you different variations of every pose ranging from easy to hard, making it accessible to students of all levels. 

For instance, if you wish to build muscles in the shoulders and arms, then the Chaturanga pose is perfect to practice. The poses create tension in your muscles undergoing teh stress. The more challenging poses you perform, the more tension it will create in your muscles. 

If you are already performing a challenging pose, then you can further increase the tension by increasing volume. Similar to increasing the repetitions of chest press, you have to increase the number of sun salutations during practice, or you can also try increasing the length of flow.

Metabolic Stress 

Metabolic stress is a physiological process that your tissues and muscles undergo during a workout. It is caused due to excessive accumulation of waste metabolites in the muscle, known as the burn.

The feeling when you get on your last rep when you experience the burn is metabolic stress. The amount of metabolic stress generated during yoga depends heavily on the pose you are practicing. Vigorous ashtanga will burn your muscles in no time, whereas Yin class has opposite effects.

Mechanical Damage 

Muscle mechanical damage means the microscopic tears in muscle fiber. Damaging your muscles by performing muscle-strengthening asanas helps in increasing muscle mass as they heal.

Normally these microtears in muscles are caused due to tension put on due to lifting heavyweights. Yoga is very much effective in building muscle using the mechanical damage process. 

How To Optimise Yoga Practices To Build Muscle?

You need to know that the muscle-building process is usually built-in with continuous and consistent yoga practice and advancement in poses. Surya namaskar for volume, long vinyasas to increase metabolic stress and different pose variations for progressive overload, and so much more.

However, with complete knowledge of how the muscle-building process works in yoga, you can maximize your muscle growth in target areas.

Here are some recommendations for overall muscle growth on how you can optimize yoga practice to get maximum muscle growth.

  • Identify some of the power poses that effectively help in building muscle as well as strength. Then you can plan progression series for every power pose ranging from easy to hard. Practice your poses regularly in the most difficult variation possible.
  • When you are comfortable in a particular asana but not quite ready for another pose, you can use the volume as a primary drive. Take complete advantage of eccentric movements by increasing the muscle tension. You can use transitions like standing or lying down or even try some challenging poses when you lie on the mat.
  • Implement a regular vinyasa sequence to challenge your endurance level. Metabolic stress is generated from a collection of waste metabolic products of anaerobic respiration. This will not build in case you do not rest between the poses.

Yoga Poses To Build Maximum Muscle Mass

There may not be anything known as muscle yoga; however, there are many great yoga poses to build muscles. If you wish for a greater anabolic effect on the body, then focus on targeting the big muscles.

There is a reason behind people picking maximum weights in the gym to build more muscle mass. Nothing gets your body into an anabolic state faster than squats or deadlifts, and yoga works in a similar fashion.

Yoga poses that involve full body compound movements are very much effective. These are also known as power yoga poses.

Below we have mentioned some power yoga poses for strength training and to build maximum muscle.

Chair Pose

Nothing boosts the metabolic stress and builds the burn like a chair pose. Legs are the biggest muscles in the body, and chair poses involve all of your leg muscles. Hold a rock-strong chair pose to engage your glutes, core, and quads.

Warrior II

A lot of muscles are involved in doing the warrior pose. To begin with, you are sinking your hips and tightening glutes and core muscles while engaging quads and raising arms. This powerful, full-body pose will put all your muscles to the test at once.


This pose is the strongest expression of strength training in yoga. Arm balancing is the key component of muscle building in this pose. Chaturanga is a very popular yoga pose and is a part of Surya namaskar and vinyasas.

The main pillar pose engages your legs, core while holding your body weight on your arms. This pose utilizes all three mechanisms of muscle-building effectively, which is what we are looking for.

So, now do you believe that yoga can build muscles too? What are you waiting for? Put on your yoga pants and get ready to build some muscles. 


Hey There! I am A Makeup Artist turned into a Content writer. Intrigued by the world of digital marketing, I am currently working as an SEO Content Writer. Being a fashion enthusiast I enjoy writing blogs on Beauty, Fashion and Fitness Trends.