Exercise Q&A

Q. As a longtime weightlifter, I took up yoga after a weightlifting injury at the recommendation of my doctor. The result: I reduced my weightlifting, but I am as strong now after six months of yoga training. Are my conclusions correct that yoga is a good substitute for weight training, especially for older guys like me who are interested in maintaining strength and form rather than building up? I've convinced myself I have lost nothing by switching to yoga, while gaining flexibility and balance.

A. Perhaps you have heard of "yoga butt," that legendary firm posterior that has lured many a woman into a yoga studio. But Chaka Freeman, who teaches a "yoga for guys" class at Boundless Yoga Studio in Washington, would like those of you sporting a Y chromosome to hear about what he calls yoga arms.

"They're cut and they're big," he says. "You don't need to worry that it won't look like you work out." That's because a vigorous yoga practice forces you to call on every muscle — and not just the ones that are popular with the bodybuilding set. Think about chaturanga, just one pose in the sun salutation sequence. It requires you to hold your body in the lowered push-up position a couple of inches off the floor, which works your arms, your chest and your core all at once.

So you're probably toning parts of yourself that you never targeted before, and that could make you feel even stronger than when you were a barbell junkie. Of course, it depends on what kind of yoga you're doing.

Freeman advises that Vinyasa, the fast-paced flow variety, is the best way to get that pumped post-gym feel. You're right that Schwarzenegger wannabes should beware, though. Swapping out presses for poses will still make you look built, but not so much that someone "would ever question if you did steroids," Freeman says. (Which, duh, you shouldn't be doing.)

The slimming effect that makes yoga so popular with the ladies means biceps can bulge but not burst.

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