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I am trying to loose weight. My main approach has been to eat healthy, lift weights 4~5 times a week and do Vinyasa yoga (power yoga) 4~5 times a week. I also fit in the occasional 60 minute run on the elliptical (I can't run or do the treadmill because of an ankle injury). I'm not looking to become "ripped" but some muscle definition would be nice.

This worked for a few months and I was able to go from 264 lbs to 224 lbs (I'm 5 ft 11), but now I've "relapsed" back to 233 lbs.

A friend has told me that the Yoga is actually harming my fitness goals, since the weight lifting builds muscle and burns fact, but the Yoga burns muscle tissue.

I always assumed that the Yoga could only be good for me, especially given the physic of the more experienced Yoga practitioners, but now my friend has me doubting myself.

Is he right? Should I stop the yoga and stick to lifting?


Here are the rough details of my routine: I cycle through the 4 following workouts (Chest, Back, Shoulder, Arms) taken from this website:

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/beginner-chest-training-guide.html

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/5-back-workouts-for-mass-a-beginners-guide.html

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/5-shoulder-workouts-for-mass-a-beginners-guide.html

https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/beginner-arm-training-guide.html

I don't usually do abs or legs because they are already part of the Yoga flows. I do Yoga 4~5 times a week.

And I throw in one or two 60 minute sessions a week on the elliptical as well.

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    Your friend is incorrect. There is nothing wrong with Yoga and it can be added to your weight training routine without negative consequence. As far as losing weight, that is purely about energy in vs. energy out. What is your body fat percentage and how many hours a week do you train (cardio, yoga, weights)? Some of this info is needed to find a starting point for the amount of calories that you should eat everyday. For the sake of curiosity, what does your workout program consist of as far as exercises and sets & reps? – Sean Perkins Mar 27 '17 at 1:17
  • @SeanPerkins thanks for the comment. I've edited the question to show what routines I follow. As for my body fat percentage, I haven't calculated it. – Alex Kinman Apr 10 '17 at 17:16
  • Unrelated, but neglecting leg work because of yoga is probably not a great approach; it's a different type of exercise. Yoga in no way harms your fitness goals. The nutshell is that your weight loss or lack thereof has way more to do with diet than with lifting, yoga, or the elliptical. – Dave Newton Apr 10 '17 at 18:28
  • Alex, it would help to know your body fat% and lean body mass. This number helps with creating a starting point for a balanced diet from a macronutrient perspective (protein, fats, carbs). Weight loss isn't linear and you'll hit plateaus, the first place to look when this happens is your diet (kcals in vs. kcals out); second, would be your exercise routine. If I had to guess, your diet might be off, meaning you might be eating at maintenance calories and aren't in a deficit. Do a search on google about getting your body fat%, it'll be easier to assist you and it isn't difficult. – Sean Perkins Apr 10 '17 at 19:22
  • @SeanPerkins the various online calculators I have tried are placing me in the 20~22 % range, and my lean body mass at 179. – Alex Kinman Apr 10 '17 at 19:34
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You lose muscle if you work out and don't give the body the building blocks to build itself up again after tearing it down. The body gives a somewhat clear sign that it's starting to "eat itself" when the sweat starts smelling like ammonium.

Given that, if you stop straining your body, and only do super soft practices such as restorative and/or yin yoga, you'll most likely not gain muscle, and not lose much weight either... Caloric balance you know. If you do super strenuous power yoga workouts and don't eat properly, you'll likely not build muscles either. If you do the workout, challenge the muscles, eat properly, and do it regularly, you'll lose weight and build muscle.

That goes for all sorts of workouts. Yoga may be a bit "magical" since it's working all the different bodies, not just the physical (if you believe in yoga philosophy), but it's also following normal workout principles.

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You might be overtraining.

It is difficult to say without knowing what exactly you do during yoga classes, as there is no absolute standard on what yoga or power yoga actually is, and different classes often have very different exercises.

That said, I would assume that power yoga challenges your strength, so I would classify it as bodyweight resistance training.

That means you are challenging your strength with resistance training 8-10 times a week, which might not be sustainable. Good measures of overtraining are an increase in resting pulse rate, and decrease in grip strength.

In general I would advise you to follow a well designed weight loss and strength training program, instead of just doing as much as you can. More is not always better.

I also advise to take yoga easy. It works best for relaxation and active recovery. You can use yoga as bodyweight resistance training, but then you have to fit it on your overall routine properly and know what you are doing and which specific training goals you want to achieve.

Concerning your resistance training program with weights, for overall strength and weight loss, usually whole body exercises are more effective.

Therefore, in my opinion, for most people, it could be more effective as a program to do whole body resistance training (squats, deadlifts, presses) 3x a week, plus some light yoga as many times as it feels good.

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As per my knowledge there is nothing like that you will lose your muscles while doing yoga.

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  • What research have you carried out that would help? I'm considering taking up yoga to supplement my usual training routine, so would be interested to read it. – Dark Hippo Oct 4 '17 at 13:03
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