Slimming down doesn't necessarily have to equal simply losing weight for you naturally muscular women. If you are looking to streamline your muscles, there are specific types of exercises that will help you strengthen without building bulk and will focus on sculpting long, lean, densely compacted muscles.
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Aerobic Exercise and You, Perfect Together
Cardiovascular exercise is important because it gets the heart muscle pumping and helps with weight loss. The trick is to stick with aerobic exercises that will not build more lower-body muscle. Choose running on flat surfaces over hills. Walking is also a good choice. Power walk on flat surfaces to burn extra calories and increase your heart rate. Cycling using lower resistance will give you an aerobic workout without building the quadriceps. If you use machines such as the elliptical or stair-stepper, use less resistance to go faster. Your vertical position increases the weight-bearing load on your lower-body muscles and can contribute to larger-looking thighs. Aim for at least three to four 30-minute sessions a week.
Pilates for Strength and Grace
A dancer's long, lithe physique is coveted by many. Professional dancers were some of the first to use Pilates to keep their muscles strong and prevent injuries. Doing Pilates three to four times a week can help you sculpt muscles that appear longer and leaner while strengthening your body and correcting muscle imbalances. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight at 45 degrees. Keeping your chin in a neutral position, roll your head and shoulder blades off the floor and extend your arms out straight by your sides. Feel the length in your body as your muscles isometrically contract. Initiate movement from the shoulder girdle and begin to tap lightly with the arms, palms facing down. Inhale and exhale in continuous five-count intervals up to 100 times.
Lengthen with Yoga
Yoga is believed to help lower cortisol levels, which are associated with increased belly fat if practiced regularly. Since you are working against your own body weight and stretching, yoga may help to keep you fit, flexible and strong without adding bulk. Downward-Facing Dog is an effective pose to stretch out the long muscles of the body such as the legs and arms. Start in an inverted "V" position with palms flat on the floor, fingers splayed. Keeping your tailbone lifted high, extend your arms and legs straight as if you are pushing the floor away with your heels pressing toward the floor. Let your head and neck hang loose and look toward your navel. Hold once for five full breaths, inhaling and exhaling.
Belly Up to the Bar
Barre workouts that combine tiny, precise, isometric muscle contractions with movement to get deep into your muscles can reshape you from head to toe. This workout is intense and it's not uncommon for your muscles to shake and quiver throughout class. You can use the back of a chair at home. Standing alongside a chair, place your right hand on it and your left hand on your waist. Keeping your feet hips-distance apart with your toes pointing forward, rise up on the balls of your feet as high as you comfortably can. Staying lifted, tuck your tailbone, lean slightly forward at your waist and keep your shoulders down and pressed back. Bend your knees and drop down a third of the way and hold. From this point move down 1 inch and up 1 inch, trying not to come up all the way. Repeat 10 times then hold for another 10 seconds.