Updated: Jun 22
Here is how:
© Copyright 2021 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
Starting with the right tone
There are two different meanings for muscle tone:
Muscle tone describes the muscle tension or resistance when our muscles are at rest. This type of muscle tone helps us to maintain posture and balance. It also keeps our muscles ready for action so we can have quick, unconscious reflexes to any immediate event.
The other meaning of tone refers to the body as a whole. When we talk about a toned body or toned muscles we refer to the strength, definition and the look of the muscles on the body.
Surprise, surprise! Strengthening our muscles is what we have to do to look and feel more toned. Now if you are the type who wants to look like a certain green marvel character than what I’m about to say is not for you.
Training with weights is one way to strengthen your muscles but I want to talk about of using your own body weight for strength training. Weight lifting is a good idea if you are looking to strengthen a specific group of muscles while using your body weight will engage multiple muscle groups at the same time and can improve not only strength but also flexibility at the same time.
When we use our own body mass as resistance we work against the force of gravity to build our muscles and improve our muscle tone.
“Force against gravity” sounds a bit like a comic, I know :-)
The bottom line here is, to strengthen your muscles you don’t have to turn into the hulk and lift weights at the gym if you don’t want to. You can use your own body as a weight to get stronger muscles to feel and look great.
My weapon of choice: Yoga
There are many different options of bodyweight strength training but my weapon of choice agains flabby and slack muscles is yoga. Flabby and slack is what my muscles were after I had my kids and yoga was what got me back into shape physically and mentally.
In yoga the poses and movements are performed slowly and continuously to challenge the neuromuscular system. Challenging not just the big muscles groups but all the little stabiliser muscles in the body as well.
I know there are many different types of yoga out there but the one that help me get me back into shape is the slow moving, uplifting, not too spiritual type. The kind were you feel like dancing to the flow of your own breath and don’t have to prezel into shapes or do acrobatics like head or handstands.
Repetition without repetition
In order to strengthen our muscles using our own body weight we have to go through repetitions. Doing one particular movement again and again. If you are like me and get bored super quickly you understand that a pilates class or booty-shape-abs-blaster class wasn’t the answer to my prayers. In yoga I did the same poses over and over again but because they were put together in different sequences and the focus was on the breath and moving with it every down dog or warrior felt different and new.
Keeping the focus on the breath and how the body feels moving slowly form one pose to the next doesn’t only calm the nervous system but also lets you experience the same pose from a different angle and place in your body. Sometimes you focus on the core, the next on the lower body or the shoulder girdle. There are so many alignment points in a yoga pose it never gets boring. And the best thing is all the alignment teaches our body good posture which after looooots of repetition gets coded into our muscles and we keep it up long after we leave our mat.
Easy does it
Exercising is not supposed to feel horrible. Believe me I’ve had my share of boot camp experiences and most of them ended with some sort of injury that had me not working out instead of working out. Especially when getting older taking it easy and slow can be more efficient.
A strong body with strong muscles can help prevent injuries in our day to day life. So getting injured during our workout is slightly counter productive. Sticking to the yoga basics and consistently practicing them allowed me to explore the boundaries of my abilities slowly and get stronger and more flexible in my own time the way it was right for my body. We all have a body that is made up out of the same components (arms, legs, muscles, nerves, skin etc.) but the way we experience it is different for everyone. In yoga there is room for exploring these individualities and embracing them.
One major benefit of doing yoga is getting a better handle on what good really posture means. It is not enough to just have strong muscles you need to know how they work together to create that good posture to hold you upright and minimise the strain on muscles, ligaments and tendons. Since yoga also gives you a good understanding on how the muscles interact when are still and just breathe it provides you with a more holistic approach to posture.
Focus on the good stuff
Because of this holistic approach between breath and body the mind gets to come out an play too. By focusing on our breathing patterns our mind has nowhere else to go. Of course it is absolutely normal to lose focus during a yoga practice. Especially if you tip over pretending to be a tree or when your teacher mixes up chin and shin. Yup, happens to me all the time but we all love a good laugh :-) Drifting out of focus and then coming back to your breath and movement
is part of the practice too.
It is a little bit like life itself. We can’t stamp out all our problems and challenges and make them magically go away. But we can choose what to set our focus on. In a way our ability focus can be compared to our muscles. It gets strengthened, refined and challenged in a yoga practice.
Now I’m going to be really honest with you!
Doing yoga was not the only form of exercise that helped me get back into shape after turning into Ms. Flabby Bottom. I needed to throw some cardio workout into the mix. If you are interested in why cardio workout is a good idea you can check out this blog post here.
In addition to all the strengthening and stretching I needed something were I could blow of steam, sweat like crazy and get blasted with some good vibes. For me dance fitness was the perfect fit. When I dance there is no counting or repetitions or thinking about being healthy and doing the right thing. It is just the purest good fun.
The combination of yoga and dance fitness is now my super power to staying happy, healthy and brain fit. Mind you that doesn’t mean I am happy all the time. I get angrier than the Hulk (but no smashing) and more sad and depressed than Eeyore (Disney character from Winnie the Poo) at times. But I know if I roll out my yoga mat I can take control of my focus and shift it to all the things I’m grateful for. The worlds biggest problems (and there were many in the last year) have nothing on me when I turn up the music. All Problems and worries stay off the dance floor.
I love my workout combination of yoga and dance fitness it makes me feel good when I don’t and makes me feel incredible on a good day. I keep coming back to it so I can live my best life. It is my super power. My Cordi Power.
What about you? Do you have a super power that keeps you happy and healthy and that you love coming back to for more?
I highly suggest you find one pronto using the Cordi Power formula:
Fall in LOVE with your workout
DO it regularly
Have a HAPPY and healthy body
If you want to give yoga or dance fitness a whirl book your FREE trial class here.
I can’t wait to meet you!
P.S. In case you were wondering, yes I’m a huge Marvel and Disney fan
#cordipower #cordineckermann #BollyXwithCordi #YogawithCordi #beginneryoga #strongbodystrongmind #tonedbody #strongerbody #getstrongermuscles #howtogetstronger #howtobestrong #staystrong #tonedmuscles