Some flexibility exercises also help to tone your body. You can actively stretch one muscle while toning another. These flexibility exercises are especially helpful if you have limited time for working out and want to quickly accomplish as much as possible.
When you stretch your muscles, you increase your flexibility and reduce your chances of injury. In toning your muscles, you are increasing muscle strength and achieving a leaner appearance. There are many exercises in yoga, Pilates and different styles of dance that allow you to both stretch and tone your muscles at the same time.
Among flexibility exercises, the hamstring stretch is a common one because hamstring muscles can be difficult to stretch. Tight hamstrings can lead to a wide range of injuries so you will want to focus on them as much as possible. One hamstring stretch that will simultaneously stretch your leg muscles and tone your arms is performed while lying on your back. You extend one leg on the floor and grab the other straight leg with both hands and pull it toward your torso. As you deepen this stretch, your arms will feel the resistance as you use your arm strength to increase the stretch in the hamstring.
Standing Quad Stretch
Another way to tone and stretch at the same time is with the standing quad stretch. While standing on the left leg, bend your right leg and grab your right foot from behind using your right hand. This flexibility exercise stretches your right quadriceps muscle while engaging the muscles in your left leg. Your left leg is working harder in this exercise to maintain balance.
Sitting Side Stretch
One of the more difficult flexibility exercises is commonly performed in dance and yoga classes. This is the sitting side stretch. You sit on the floor with your legs spread in front of you in as wide a split as possible. Sit up as straight as possible. Extend your left arm straight up and over to the right side of your body, feeling the stretch along the left side of your torso. The toning benefit of this exercise is that your abdominals must be engaged and your leg muscles are being used to keep your knees and inner thighs from rolling inward.
The cobra stretch lengthens your abdominal muscles while toning the muscles of the arms and back. You start this stretch by lying face down on the floor. Keep your legs and feet on the floor throughout this exercise. You place your hands at about chest level alongside your body and push up while lifting your head. Your gaze is toward the ceiling. This can be a strenuous exercise, so proceed cautiously. As you stretch your stomach muscles, you strengthen your arm muscles that are working to push your torso up. Your back is working to lift itself. Your legs feel the toning benefits from keeping them straight and on the floor.