5 Yoga Poses for Building Muscle

Man doing yoga pose, building muscle.

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Summer’s right around the corner, which means it’s time to rethink your fitness routine if you want washboard abs for swimsuit season. Luckily, you don’t have to put in more hours at the gym or buy a Peloton to slim down and build muscle. You can also do yoga for building muscle to avoid overwhelming your body with stress.

That’s right. Yoga isn’t just for ladies. In fact, experts believe yoga to have early roots in the Brahmins, highly knowledgable priests of the Indian caste system. They were men, and they practiced yoga asana, or yoga poses, primarily for their spiritual benefits. 

You can just easily reap the physical benefits by practicing some of the same poses below. 

1. Warrior II 

Warrior two, or virabhadrasana two, is aptly named. When you’re in this pose, you’ll feel like Gerard Butler in the movie “300” — a total warrior. Plus, you’ll build muscle in your legs, core, arms, back and glutes. It’s a yoga pose for building muscle from head to toe.

To practice this asana, get into a lunge position but plant your back foot and straighten your leg, toes pointing out. Your chest should now face the long side of your mat. Keep your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle, bring your arms out to a T and gaze past your front fingertips. 

2. Boat 

Love it or hate it, boat pose, or navasana, is one of the best poses you can practice to strengthen both your front and back body. Whether you hold boat pose or rep it out, it’s sure to set your core ablaze and tone your arms. 

This move is similar to Russian twists as you’ll be sitting on the floor with both your arms and legs raised. However, unlike the infamous twists, you’ll hold a static V position, with your arms, legs and back straight. Remember, you can always bend your knees if you’re struggling to maintain proper form. Quality over quantity, right?

3. Side Plank 

Boat pose mainly targets your six-pack abdominal muscles, but you need strong obliques, too. If you want to tone your sides without the Russian twists, try side plank, or vasisthasana. This pose makes your core, shoulders, and hips fire up simultaneously to help you lose fat and build muscle in three different areas. 

Begin in a high plank position. Reach up to the sky with one hand, opening your chest to the side. At the same time, allow your feet to pivot so your weight is on the sides. Hold this position or stack your front foot on top of the other so that your hands and feet are in line with each other. Look up past your top fingertips and smile! You’re getting more swole by the second. 

4. Chaturanga 

While not technically a pose, chaturanga is the total package. If you do it properly, this movement will work every muscle in your body at once. It’s kind of like a push-up, but way more challenging. 

Assume a high plank position. Then, on an exhale, bend your elbows and slowly lower your body until your biceps are parallel to the floor. Slightly lift your gaze to a few inches in front of your mat and hold this pose for as long as you can. The key is to draw your elbows in close to your sides and keep the core and thighs engaged to maintain a straight line from your heels to your head.  

5. Crow

Crow pose, or bakasana, looks super cool and, if you do it right, it feels a bit like floating. However, you must engage your arms, core, shoulders, chest and hips to maintain balance and avoid an unfortunate faceplant. 

Squat down and place your hands shoulder-width apart. Bring your weight onto the balls of your feet as you pull your knees into the backs of your armpits. Bend your elbows slightly as you shift the rest of your weight into your hands and take flight. Creating the same shape with your back on the floor can help you prepare for full crow if you’re still finding balance. 

Start Slow and Get Strong

Of course, you can always add movement to these poses and turn them into reps. If you’re feeling confident, you can even join a yoga studio and take a few vinyasa classes. This style of yoga links breath with movement, so you’ll flow through each pose to increase flexibility and build muscle — even in places you thought there were none.

Remember to start slow and pace yourself. Yoga for building muscle only works if you master the poses first. Hold them for 10 to 30 seconds and work your way up to more dynamic movement. This approach will help prevent injuries so you can get your yoga on and look meatier than ever this summer. 

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