Should you do yoga before or after weights?
I’m going to tell you the answer up front. But make sure you read through to the end. Because then you will know exactly why yoga should be done AFTER any weightlifting.
Why Should You Do Yoga After Weightlifting?
Above all else, you want to remember that you do not want to lengthen your muscles before any high-intensity workouts. And Yoga definitely lengthens your muscles.
A meta-analysis pooled 104 studies on the acute effects of Static Stretching (SS) (that is hanging out in the stretch for a duration of time) related to its effects on strength, power, and explosive performance.
The data points suggested negative implications from static stretching on performance. Concluding:
…that the usage of SS as the sole activity during warm-up routine should generally be avoided.
Ever hangout in stretches for a long period of time before your workouts? Stop doing that. I see people doing it all the time. Just stretching their muscles before they get to working out. No no no…
HOWEVER… Notice the quote above stating that static stretching as the sole activity during a warm-up should be avoided.
Interestingly, it appears in a study that by including a dynamic warm-up routine with SS – it abolishes SS negative effects on muscle power.
Which has me eating my words a little bit here. Surely, this means yoga before weights would be ok. After all, it is a very dynamic practice. Unless you are doing yin or restorative yoga – it is unlikely you are going to be holding stretches for a long period of time (>45 seconds). Vinyasa yoga moves you from position to position with your breath. Moving you through ‘flow’. Which means you aren’t even doing any static stretching!
Ok… So there is that caveat. And one might be able to argue that yoga would make for a great warm-up routine. Because there is a lot of dynamic stretching going on.
Still, a warm-up is not intended to lengthen the muscles. And with yoga, you are lengthening your entire body! On top of that, yoga helps you to rest and recover. Which is NOT what you want before working out!
And while it is great to do Yoga and weightlifting on the same day, you have to remember…
Yoga Itself Can Be a Tough Workout!
There’s a significant amount of time under tension happening on the muscles in a yoga class! With all of that pushing and lunging going on. Often, you leave feeling exhausted. In fact, some folks even experience delayed onset muscle soreness following their first handful of yoga classes.
So the problem with doing yoga before weights here, is that depending on its intensity, it can depreciate the capacity for strength training.
You want to save that power for your maximal output training! For pushing and pulling weights!
Now what I love about Yoga after weights is that it helps to further strengthen the areas missed from your workout. It’s like rebar in concrete. At least that’s how I like to think of it. Yoga truly strengthens your body in an incredible way!
And complements it so well. Not only filling in the blanks with strength, but challenging stability and balance as well.
It’s the perfect match for weight training and pairs up nicely afterwards!
Yoga Before or After Weights: Conclusion…
So that’s my answer to yoga before or after weights.
It’s complicated. But in a nutshell, any full-length yoga practices before weights I would avoid. Studies have shown that lengthening muscles before exercise tends to have a negative impact on athletic performance. And yoga itself can stress the muscles with more resistance than you would probably like before your strength-focused training.
HOWEVER if you were to use something like a few rounds of sun salutes, that’d be totally fine. In fact, that would be a great way to warm-up!
You could even do yoga first thing in the morning and lift later in the day (but I would again avoid excessively challenging practices).
For all of these reasons, I prefer to work yoga in on rest days and/or after weight lifting.
Hope this helps. Just leave me a comment below if you have any questions or requests.