Ladies, I hate to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as building “long and lean” muscles. I know magazines, gurus, and some training modalities like to spout these words out to you, but here’s a secret… It’s all marketing. They are using these words because women are afraid to get “bulky.” Whatever that means… And yes, “bulky” is completely subjective.
Yoga, pilates, barre, and Tracy Anderson (among many others), often like to tout that they can help you build those “long and lean” muscles that will make you look like a dancer or what-not. But sorry, our bodies don’t work that way. Our muscles can’t decipher between being long and lean or short and thick (for lack of a better term…). You know what does decide whether our muscles are long or short? Our genetics. If you were born with the body of a ballet dancer or basketball player, then you just might have longer muscles. Congratulations… I think? Anyways, you can’t lengthen your muscles. Muscles can only grow in diameter.
This look is often also called “toned.” Those who take themselves very seriously in the fitness community hate this word. It actually doesn’t bother me though because when you use this term I know what you are referring to and what look you might be going for. But what a “toned” look really means (whether you know this or not), is that you need to build a little bit of muscle and lose some fat. We’re seeing a lot of women on TV these days who are sporting a more “toned” look, from Kelly Ripa to Robin Roberts. Here’s the thing about their look, they are A LOT thinner than you might think they are. They are carrying verrrry little fat and just a little bit of muscle. But because they are so lean, whatever muscle they have is very visible. Someone once said (maybe it was Alan Aragon?) that the fastest way to gain 10 lbs. of muscle is to lose 10 lbs. of fat. And it is sooooo true! Whenever I start leaning out I’ll get asked “have you gained more muscle?” No, I’ve just lost some fat that was hiding my muscle.
So anyways, back to my original point, don’t be fooled into believing that you can build the body of a ballet dancer. Their genetics (and diet!) play a big role in the way they look. Now obviously you can work with what you’ve got, and doing yoga, pilates, or barre’ might help you build a little bit of muscle (in addition to quite possibly getting your sweat on), but they can’t perform miracles. Plus, they just aren’t very efficient at building muscle. You could build all the muscle you might ever want in a shorter period of time by simply being on a solid strength training program… just sayin’…
And you know, if you need some help with a customized program to get you where you want to be, well, I am now accepting applications for online coaching for 2015! If you’re a motivated individual who doesn’t know where to start and would like a program 100% customized for your goals that also fits your training situation (home, gym, whatever), please feel free to contact me! I promise I don’t bite!