Women don't need biceps as big as their heads. Men don't either, but try telling them that. But as women age, their metabolism and lean muscle mass decrease, unless they engage in a strength training exercise such as yoga, which naturally develops lean muscle mass. No weight training or heavy lifting is required, as yoga uses your body weight for resistance. Turns out your body weight is all you need to build strength and achieve that sleek, toned frame you've been coveting.
Why Lean Muscle Mass is So Important
If you want to remain healthy and fit well into your senior years, then building lean muscle mass is essential. According to the online journal "Prevention," women lose about half a pound of muscle in their perimenopausal years, and up to a pound of muscle in their menopausal years. When lean muscle mass decreases, the metabolism lowers, leading to excess weight gain. Women are susceptible to muscle loss not only because they are not as active as they used to be, but also because their hormone levels begin fluctuating. You can regain that speedy metabolism in just a few weeks, by targeting the major muscles groups in your body just two times a week.
Yoga: The Mother of All Workouts
Yoga is an exceptional workout for building lean muscle mass because it targets virtually every muscle in the body, leaving no area untouched. While other workouts target specific muscle groups, leaving other muscle groups weak and vulnerable to injury, yoga develops muscle mass throughout the entire body.
As your yoga practice becomes more advanced, your tone and strength will likewise improve. However, as with many exercises, you may eventually find that your muscles need a different type of stimulation. Incorporating weight training with a weekly yoga practice guarantees that your lean muscle mass will continue to develop.
Not all yoga practices are created equal, but all are equally worthwhile. If you are looking to build lean muscle mass, opt for a vigorous Hatha or Vinyasa yoga class that leaves your muscles feeling fatigued. A well-worked muscle is a growing muscle after all.
Flexibility is the Key to Toning and Strengthening
Heavy weightlifting exercises build thick muscles by exerting pressure on the muscles. Yoga, on the other hand, builds muscle by stretching and elongating the muscles. When you stretch your muscles, you lengthen your fascia, the band of protective tissues that line your muscles. Your muscles then have more room to expand. Increasing your flexibility also lubricates and protects your tendons, joints and tissues.
Yoga Poses and Repetition
If you've ever attended a yoga class, you've probably noticed how often certain poses are repeated. This is not because yoga teachers are not creative. Rather, repetition builds muscle mass. A typical Vinyasa-flow class incorporates more than 100 muscle-building pushups, as well as strength-building poses such as Warrior I and Warrior II, which tone your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Poses such as Dolphin, Crow and Peacock help develop lean muscle mass in the back and shoulders, and the popular Warrior III and Tree pose develop strong core muscles.
Amy Lucas is a writer for the Underground Health Reporter and Gaiam websites, and for Bestcovery.com. She has written for business and personal websites and been published in educational publications, including Random House's "1,296 ACT Practice Questions" and in her own series of SAT books and DVDs, "Private Tutor SAT, Your Compete SAT Test Prep Course."