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The Intense Yoga Workout That Uses Weights to Build Muscle

This dynamic, extrasculpting approach to yoga will help you pull off the balancing act of meaningfully challenging your muscles while still reaping that calm you usually hit the mat for. “It’s a physically intense workout grounded in the mindfulness of yoga,” says Amy Opielowski, a master trainer for CorePower Yoga studios nationwide. The poses are familiar, and the load on your muscles has been turned up without demanding preternatural balance or off-the-charts flexibility.

There are different ways to tap more strength from a pose, Opielowski explains: “You could incorporate free weights, stretch out the time you maintain a pose, add pulses, increase range of motion, or switch to a single-leg stance instead of staying on two.” 

She put all those twists in the mix for the eight-move flow she created for SHAPE. That ability to crank the dial on intensity will not only translate into a tighter physique but also help you grow in what you’re able to do in yoga. And by the time you’ve completed all eight exercises, you’ll have targeted the front, sides, and back of your core for a complete 360 of power cinching your waist. (Want more from CorePower? Try these 10 CorePower Yoga Poses with Dumbbells.)

Just as transforming, you’ll experience an element of release as you do your reps. Plus, because there’s no fast-paced pounding, you’re more primed for clearing your head. “When you’re on the rectangle of the mat, you can connect to yourself,” Opielowski says.

Put your mind on your breathing, and let it do a detox of everything else as you focus on your flow. “You are getting to rest and restore and come away reinvigorated,” she promises. And the healthy afterglow you see only sweetens your recharge. (You'll definitely be needing one of these yoga towels.)

How it works: Do these moves in the order shown for the amount of time or number of reps indicated.

Total Time: up to 30 minutes

You will need: Free weights, Mat

1. Tabletop to Down Dog Hamstring Curl

A.

Start on the floor on hands and knees (tabletop position). Maintaining 90-degree bend in right knee, kick right heel up and tuck left toes under.

B.

Press through palms to drive right leg up, keeping knee bent.

C.

Bring right knee in toward nose as you return to tabletop. That's 1 rep. Continue for 1 minute. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1 per side

Reps:

AMRAP for 1 minute

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale up: Hover the knee of your grounded foot just a few inches off the floor throughout the movement rather than straightening the leg for down dog position

2. Chair Side Tap

A.

Stand with feet together, a dumbbell in each hand pressed together at chest. Lower into low squat.

B.

Lift right foot off floor, tap it out to the side as you keep your hips level. Continue for 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat

Sets:

1 per side

Reps:

AMRAP for 30 seconds

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale down: Alternate toe taps from leg to leg each time.

3. Crescent Lunge Row

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Step right leg back into a long lunge with right leg extended, left leg bent 90 degrees, and hinge torso forward

B.

Exhale as you draw elbows back and bring weights by ribs. Inhale to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat

Sets:

1 per side

Reps:

15 to 20

4. Reverse Warrior Triceps Extension

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms by sides. Step right leg back into a long lunge with right leg extended, and spin right heel to touch down on mat (right toes point out to right); bend left leg 90 degrees. Bring right hand to rest dumbbell on back of right thigh, and extend left arm directly overhead, palm facing toward right to start.

B.

Inhale as you bend left elbow 90 degrees, bringing dumbbell by left ear. Exhale to press weight back up. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1 per side

Reps:

15 to 20

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale up: Decrease range of motion in triceps extension, bending elbow only by 45 degrees.
Scale down: Use a lighter dumbbell.

5. Low Flyer to Airplane

A.

Stand with feet hip-width apart, pressing palms together at chest (in prayer pose). Step left leg back into a long lunge with left leg extended, right leg bent 90 degrees, and hinge torso forward to start.

B.

Bring bent left knee in behind right knee, maintaining a deep bend in right leg.

C.

Exhale to straighten right leg (into standing) and extend left leg directly back as you extend both arms back along your sides (body is parallel to floor from head to left heel). Inhale to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Sets:

1 per side

Reps:

15 to 20

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale Down: Decrease range of motion, extending lifted leg only a foot or so off floor behind you.

6. Forearm Plank to Sphinx Pose

A.

Start on floor in plank on forearms (elbows directly under shoulders).

B.

Lower pelvis and knees to floor, untucking toes and pressing up through forearms to raise chest. Reverse movement to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 reps.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10

7. Oblique Side Crow Jack

A.

Start on floor in plank on palms.

B.

Keeping legs together and shoulders stacked over wrists, hop both feet diagonally forward to outside of right arm. Jump back to start. Repeat to left. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 to 20 reps.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15 to 20

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale Down: Individually step the feet diagonally forward rather than jumping them both together.

8. Eagle Crunch

A.

Lie faceup on floor and entwine arms together (draw right arm under left and aim to touch palms together or cross hands to opposite shoulder), and cross legs (right leg up and over left leg, with right foot tucked behind left calf).

B.

Exhale as you do a crunch, bringing elbows toward knees; inhale to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 15 to 20 reps.

Sets:

1

Reps:

15 to 20

Mistakes and Tips:

Scale Up: Tap left heel to floor on each rep.
Scale Down: Uncross legs, keeping bent knees together.

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