Does Tai Chi Build Muscle and Strength?

April 19, 2024
Does Tai Chi Build Muscle and Strength


Can the Slow and Intentional Movements of Tai Chi Promote Muscle Strength?

You understand the importance of exercising for your physical and mental well-being, but you’re having trouble finding something that works for you with both cardiovascular and strength-building benefits.

The thought of running on treadmills, taking aerobics classes, or using weight machines doesn’t appeal to you.

Is there something with a bit of a slower pace that will work just as well?

You’ve heard that Tai Chi is an exercise with many benefits. But does Tai Chi build muscle strength?

We’ll answer this question, plus we’ll give you information about areas where Tai Chi may help build strength and the benefits of doing so.

Table of Contents

Does Tai Chi Build Muscle?
Does Tai Chi Build Strength?
Areas Where Tai Chi May Be Beneficial for Building Strength
Which Tai Chi Postures Are Most Beneficial for Building Strength?
Are There Benefits of Building Strength Through Tai Chi?
Discover a Low-Impact Way To Promote Strength and Stability Through Tai Chi With Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi

Does Tai Chi Build Muscle?

Tai Chi doesn’t necessarily build muscle like what you traditionally think of when you go to the gym to lift weights. You’re not going to look like a bodybuilder with a regular regimen of this exercise.

So how does Tai Chi build muscles in other ways? There is evidence that regular Tai Chi helps support the , strengthening the small muscles and ligaments that support bones and organs.

Does Tai Chi Build Strength?

Just because Tai Chi doesn’t produce the look of bigger muscles, that’s not to say it doesn’t provide strengthening benefits. If you can’t train using machines, resistance bands, or free weights, or if you’re simply looking for a way to make your fitness more well-rounded, Tai Chi is a good option for building strength.

How Does Tai Chi Help To Improve Strength?

Tai Chi is a full-body workout that helps improve strength through low-impact, slow, repetitive movements.

It involves standing upright and making movements as though you’re pushing against a gentle resistance. As you shift your weight and hold poses, you’re engaging muscles that may have been sedentary before.

Those who have more experience with Tai Chi would normally be strong enough to balance on one leg or hold a squat position.

Areas Where Tai Chi May Be Beneficial for Building Strength

Tai Chi is a slow-moving exercise that won’t leave you breathless like an intense cardio workout would. But that doesn’t mean it can’t offer you many benefits — both physical and mental.

Let’s look at some of the ways Tai Chi can build muscle strength and boost your energy power.


Lower Extremity Strength

The slow, balanced movements of Tai Chi can help develop the smaller muscle groups in the feet, ankles, and knees, leading to increased lower extremity strength.

One of older adults practicing Tai Chi noted improvements in functional balance tests and strength assessments of 16 major lower-limb muscle groups. These include the:

• Hip flexor
• Hip abductor and adductor
• Knee extensor
• Ankle dorsiflexor
• Ankle plantar flexor
• And more

Hand Grip Strength

The practiced, steady movements of Tai Chi involve a lot of deliberate hand movements, intended to promote energy circulation.

, amongst many others, found that Tai Chi can lead to significant improvement in hand grip strength.

Respiratory Strength

It turns out you don’t actually have to be running or doing aerobic training to reap respiratory benefits. A lot of Tai Chi is focused on deep breathing and specific breathing exercises, which may help build strength in that area.

One reports that after 12 months of regular Tai Chi, participants experienced a positive effect on circulation, heart rate, and breathing.

The results of one even say that Tai Chi could have positive effects on pulmonary rehabilitation.


Internal Qi Strength

While Americans tend to use the term “Tai Chi” to refer to specific styles of movement, the name Tai Chi actually refers to the balance of energy in Nature. Tai Chi movements can help build internal strength because they help you build your Qi (in Chinese, or Ki in Korean), your natural life energy. Through slow, steady movements — and while attempting to eliminate all distractions — many people are able to focus on energy and mindfulness while avoiding things that can pull them away from their inner power and presence.

Mental Strength

Since one aspect of Tai Chi is balancing energy as a meditation, it stands to reason that it would have mental benefits as well as physical ones.

For instance, one showed that Tai Chi can reduce anxiety in otherwise healthy people who are showing signs of stress.

Another found evidence that older adults with mild cognitive impairment showed significantly more improvement in memory-based tests after practicing Tai Chi than the control group.

There is also that regular Tai Chi practice is associated with greater prefrontal brain activation as evidenced by improvements in task-switching performance.

Which Tai Chi Postures Are Most Beneficial for Building Strength?

Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi offers a method of Tai Chi and Qigong (meaning, the study of energy movements called DahnMuDo, which means “the way of limitless energy.” This includes many postures for strength and stability, designed to:

• Strengthen the lower body and core muscles
• Improve balance and body awareness; and
• Release tension from your back and shoulders.

One of the primary forms in DahnMuDo is called Unkibohyunggong, a form practiced by all levels of students for sensing and balancing energy. It transitions smoothly between seven different postures, including:

1. Archer stance
2. Horse stance
3. Empty stance
4. Single-leg stance
5. Drop stance
6. Sitting stance
7. Cross stance

Are There Benefits of Building Strength Through Tai Chi?

Many people find a variety of benefits in building strength through Tai Chi, but everyone is different and may not respond in the same way. It can also depend on the level of commitment applied to the practice and how much time the person spends doing it.

Facets of Your Life That May Be Positively Impacted By Strengthening Your Body and Mind Through Tai Chi


By helping create good posture and body alignment along with internal strength, people who practice Tai Chi may find that it gives them a better sense of balance.

Tai Chi can help with balance because it not only serves as a form of meditation to bring your focus inward but also targets physical components needed for a more stable stance, such as:

• Leg strength
• Range of motion
• Flexibility, and
• Reflexes


A published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society found evidence that practicing Tai Chi helped reduce falls in people aged 60 and over. Over 700 participants committed to participating in 16 one-hour weekly classes. This resulted in a 67% reduction in multiple falls.

This is likely because of the balance improvement and strengthening of muscles in the lower limbs that can come with Tai Chi.


Because of the physical and mental components of Tai Chi, it can be a great tool to help reduce chronic pain. It has been to reduce the severity of pain people say they feel as well as help them deal with psychological contributors such as depression.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a showing improved pain levels for fibromyalgia patients who do Tai Chi, and it has also been shown to help those with various forms of .

Discover a Low-Impact Way To Promote Strength and Stability Through Tai Chi With Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi

Because of its effects on balance, reduction in falls, and pain levels — plus the fact that it’s not a physically taxing activity — it’s easy to see why so many senior adults participate in Tai Chi. But it’s a great form of exercise for people of any age!

Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi instructors offer the best in holistic fitness through in-studio and online classes featuring a blend of Tai Chi, Yoga, Meditation, and Breathwork. If you’d like to build strength and take advantage of Tai Chi’s numerous other benefits, click the button below to find one of our studios near you.