Are you struggling to choose between doing your yoga routine or your gym workout?
While both these practices are really great for your physical and mental health, will it be too much for your body to do them on the same day or is it better to split them on different days?
The short answer:
Yes, you can do yoga and gym on the same day but make sure that you do yoga after your gym workout and not before. If you need to do yoga before your workout, then there needs to be a few hours separating the two sessions, such as a morning and afternoon workout. If you’re able to, try to keep yoga to your rest days to maximize recovery.
Why Gym and Yoga Are Complementary Fitness Disciplines
Workouts in the gym and yoga seem like two completely opposing fitness disciplines when in fact, they are quite complementary to each other.
A lot of the techniques and exercises that you do in yoga can aid you in your gym workout and better your performance. So even if you are an Olympic weightlifter, powerlifter or the everyday gym-goer, you may benefit from adding yoga to your routine.
And of course, for the yogis out there, lifting weights could aid you in your yoga practice. All in all, they each fill a gap that may be missing in each activity so it could benefit you to do both.
It Builds Strength
Lifting in the gym can give you raw strength that can translate well in your yoga practice.
Developing this strength can help you remain solid in fundamental yoga poses such as the Warrior pose and make it easier to hold these stances as you move through them.
If you’re a weightlifter, check out our article on Improving Flexibility For Olympic Weightlifters (With Sample Program).
It Improves Mobility
Weight lifting does require a lot of strength but it also needs mobility.
Being mobile means that you’ll be able to perform lifts and exercises with better form and a wider range of motion. This could be getting your squat to parallel or lower or being able to hold a barbell in an overhead position.
Yoga is known to increase your flexibility and mobility. By getting into deep stretches in yoga and working on this aspect in your practice, you’ll find that you’ll be capable of a wider range of motion with less exertion and effort.
You Can Learn Breathing Techniques
Yoga does a lot of breathwork, which can definitely translate nicely over to your lifting.
Knowing the correct breathing techniques is an underrated yet pivotal component of both yoga and weight lifting and so, it’ll definitely help you in the gym.
Being able to control your breathing can help you lift heavier, improve your muscle endurance as well as promote faster recovery.
It Improves Mental Strength
There is a mental aspect that comes with both yoga and the gym.
Mental strength is something that you work on, whether it’s trying to hold a pose for a few more breaths or pushing through your last set, it’s the backbone of all strength.
Regular yoga practice can really make a difference to your mental well-being. It sharpens your concentration and focus as well as increases your body awareness which will greatly benefit you in the gym.
If you’re looking for a customized training program for the gym, then take a look at the FitBod app. FitBod will generate your personalized workout session based on preferences you can choose such as the body parts you want to focus on, what space and equipment you have available and how long you want to train for.
Why You Shouldn’t Do Yoga Before the Gym
So, while you can do yoga and gym on the same day, it’s recommended that you leave yoga after your training session and not before. Yoga can aid your weight lifting but it can actually be detrimental if you do it prior to it.
Most yogas require you to hold positions for longer periods of time, which is reminiscent of static stretching.
This will affect your muscle power, tire them out and weaken them. Doing so will mean that your muscle won’t be up to performing at their usual standards, which will impact your session. After all, your strength relies on your muscles contracting but yoga does the opposite and stretches them out.
This is why it’s best to stick to dynamic stretches as a warm-up before your gym workout, such as arm swings and leg swings.
If you do want to do yoga before training, then consider dynamic yoga poses that’ll wake and energize the body and mind, warming your muscles for the gym. Dynamic yoga means that you don’t hold the stance and instead you move in and out of each pose.
We covered this concept more in our article on 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Lifting Weights.
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Examples of Dynamic Warm-Up Yoga Poses
These are two examples of dynamic yoga poses that you can do before the gym.
1. Cat-Cow Pose
Works: upper back, lower back, hips, core,
- Begin on all fours, on a tabletop position. Ensure your wrists are directly beneath your shoulders and your hips over your knees.
- Inhale and slowly exhale. On the exhale, round your spine so that your belly button goes up towards the ceiling. Your head should move towards the floor to make a cat pose.
- Then, inhale and invert the pose to form the cow pose, arching your back so your belly button moves towards the ground. Lift your head and chest towards the ceiling as well as your tailbone.
- Repeat 6-8 times swapping between the cat and cow pose.
2. Thread the Needle
Works: shoulders, upper back, chest, arms and neck
- Start in a tabletop position.
- Lift your right hand off the ground and stretch it towards the sky, rotating your torso and head the same way. Look at your hand.
- Letting your gaze follow your hand, then, bring the arm down underneath your body to the other side, ‘threading the needle’. Bring your body back toward the ground so it’s once again straight.
- Repeat, bringing your right hand back up to the sky before threading the needle again.
- Once you’ve completed 8-10 reps on one side, switch over to your left side.
Why You Should Do Yoga After the Gym
It’s best to schedule your yoga session on your rest days for some active recovery, however, if you do need to do them on the same day as your gym session, then it’s best to do it afterwards.
It Can Act as a Cool Down
While static stretching is not advisable before the gym, it is great to do after your workout.
Doing yoga after training can assist in relieving muscle tension and preventing soreness and help return your body to its resting state.
By stimulating blood flow in the muscles, you prevent or lessen any DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that you may experience. This will get you ready for your next workout faster.
When you do yoga post-gym workout sessions, your muscles will already be warm.
This means that you’ll be able to be more mobile and flexible than if you were doing it straight off the bat. Subsequently, you’ll be able to get deeper in your stretches.
And of course, by doing so, you won’t be at risk of hindering your gym session!
Examples of Yoga Cool Down Poses
These are two examples of yoga poses that you can do on ‘rest days’ or following your gym session.
1. Pigeon Stretch
Works: Hips, lower back
- Begin on all fours. Then, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist, with your toes pointing to the left side so your knee is making a 90-degree angle or as close to it as you can get. This will depend on your flexibility.
- Sit down, straightening your left leg out behind you. Make sure your hips and torso are straight and facing forwards.
- When you’re sitting comfortably, lean your torso forward, folding at the hip. Let the weight of your torso lean on the front leg.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
- Switch legs.
2. Happy Baby
Works: hamstrings, inner thighs, groin
- Lie flat on your back facing up.
- Bend both knees at 90-degree angle and bring them into your chest
- Grab the outside of your feet (with the soles facing the ceiling) with your hands.
- Open your knees until they are slightly wider than your torso and bring them up towards your head.
- Pull your hands down while you push your feet up.
- Gently rock side to side.
3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Works: back and opens the chest
- Lie on your stomach.
- Being your hands under the shoulders, planting them firmly on the ground. Keep your elbows close to the body.
- Inhale and press your legs, top of your feet and hips into the ground as you bring your chest up. Your lower ribs should remain on the ground.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
Check out one more stretch that we’ve written about previously, which would be great to do following a workout: The Russian Baby Maker Stretch.
If possible, do your yoga session on your rest days for some active recovery that’ll get the blood flowing and relieve muscle tension and soreness.
However, if you do want to do yoga and go to the gym on the same day, then it can be done but stick to completing your gym workout first before yoga. Yoga before the gym will reduce muscle power and hinder your performance.
However, by doing it post-gym session, you can actually get the most out of both fitness disciplines such as improving your flexibility, mobility and reducing DOMS.
About The Author
As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.