The stare of disbelief that people give me when I tell them that I don’t do weights is honestly one of the best parts of my day. How can I not do weights and still have significant muscle mass? It’s because I do the right exercises (yoga poses); the ones that help you gain muscle mass by testing your endurance limits and break down your muscle fibers, so that your body can build them back up. (That’s how muscle gain happens.) What you need to be doing are exercises that test the ability of your muscles to support your body weight. Why does yoga work better than traditional body weight exercises? Because the tension on your muscles is ALWAYS present when you are holding a yoga pose. Spend 1 minute doing squats at an even pace, and then spend 1 minute holding a squat. Which is harder? You’re damn right – the squat hold. That’s why yoga is so awesome for strength building and muscle building. Without further ado, 6 poses for muscle gain.
1) Chair Pose – If you could do one pose to build your lower body strength and muscle mass, this would be the pose. This exercise engages all of the muscles of your legs, in addition to your core. It even works your upper body, by forcing you to hold your arms up over head. (Yes, even holding just your arms up can get tiring after a while.) Try this pose for a minimum of 60 seconds to start developing some killer thigh muscles.
2) Warrior 3 – Whew. The first time I saw Warrior 3 I thought that the demonstrator was a magician. This pose seriously tests your body’s strength. You have to hold yourself up on one leg while pushing your hamstring flexibility to its limits, while isometrically engaging the muscles of your arms and lifted leg. Remember to breathe here, or you won’t hold it for any longer than 15 seconds. Make sure you are warm before doing this pose as well. Aim for 30 seconds, or even 1 minute – although at that point your form could start getting sloppy.
3) Plank – DO. YOUR. PLANKS. Build your upper body strength while developing your core strength. Hold it for as long as you can for best results. Start at 1 minute and build your way up from there. (By the way – if you’re curious, my record is 11 minutes and 30 seconds.)
4) Crow Pose – You have to support your entire body weight with your arms while squeezing your leg muscles and keeping good posture with your spine. This is a killer pose for developing upper body strength and mass. Hold it for 30 seconds, and try and build up to 1 minute. Make sure you keep good form though – you can really injure yourself or bring chronic injury to your shoulders if you repeatedly do this incorrectly. Check my tutorial here for proper demonstration.
5) Haka Pose – This pose is KILLER on your hamstrings, and equally awesome because it helps open up your hip flexors and tone your core. If you want your body to look like Adonis, then this pose is for you. Hold it for 30 seconds, and try and build up to 2 minutes.
6) Dolphin Pose – Don’t forget about your shoulders and upper back. Dolphin pose is an awesome pose for helping you develop muscle in that key location. Also, dolphin pose helps you develop flexibility in your shoulders, which helps you in handstands, crow pose, and any movement where you are pressing your arms up overhead. Without that shoulder flexibility, you are at a serious disadvantage! So even though it sucks, make sure to do your dolphin… pose.
There you go. 6 poses to help you develop amazing strength, flexibility, body control, balance and (of course) muscle mass. Check out the YouTube channel for Man Flow Yoga sessions developed to help you gain muscle mass and improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. A big thank you to all of the people who have ‘liked’ MFY on Facebook – we passed 15,000 this morning! Also – make sure to subscribe to my email list by clicking here. Tank tops, sunglasses, coozies, and videos are on sale on the MFY website as well. Enjoy!