Yoga and weight training are the most common forms of exercise today, but is one exercise better than the other?
In spirit of the subject today, let's start by pointing out that everything has a yin and a yang. The same goes for yoga and weightlifting - there are pros and cons to each type of exercise. We are going to keep things simple and start by listing them out.
Creates a mind-body connection, keeping the whole body in sync.
Builds a phenomenal core strength, flexibility and stamina.
Less stressful (especially in terms of environment).
Detoxes the body at the end of the workout by relaxing the muscles and rids waste.
Do it at home.
You only deal with your body weight so your strength-building plateaus.
Some sports may deem that practicing yoga makes you too flexible for your own good, increasing the chances of injury as the strength vs. flexibility ratio is skewed.
Risk of injury can be high if not properly guided.
The various types of yoga (e.g. hot yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power Yoga etc.) can have varying results and be confusing.
Maintains bone density, which is especially important for middle-aged people.
Strengthens muscles around the joints, which is important for all sorts of sports.
May increase mental strength.
As you lift heavier, your risk of injury increases.
The rate of burning calories is not high when done alone.
You need fitness equipment, which can be costly.
You often need someone to weight-lift with you, to spot you.
Yoga AND Weightlifting
So, what does this all mean? Which exercise is better? It really depends on what you are looking for. Weightlifting is brilliant at building bulk as exercising with progressively heavier resistance will do that. It also gives you the compact, bulging look as it relies on the principle of concentric muscle contraction.
Yoga on the other hand, will give you that elongated look as it relies on the opposite principle of eccentric muscle contraction. It also provides a more well-balanced approach that will improve your daily life as it is a form of functional fitness that was designed to help your body move properly. It is less one-dimensional, compared to let's say a bicep curl.
It will also increase your muscle endurance instead of strength as you hold a given pose for a longer period of time, several times during a workout.
For that, the general stereotypical trend has evolved to yoga being for women and weightlifting being for men. But based on the varying pros and cons of both exercise types, you should realize by now, that they complement each other. Yoga helps with building the core strength and flexibility that is required by weightlifting exercises. Similarly, weightlifting will eliminate the strength-building plateau and strengthens muscles around the joints that will help in yoga.
So, BMT would urge all women to start weightlifting and for men to start doing yoga. For you ladies, don't let the metal music and loud grunts at the weights area scare you away. And for men, before you dismiss the idea that yoga is too 'girly', Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu used to practice ballet to help with their posing on stave. So, suck it up and try it out first - you will realize how painful it can get.