Do yoga and squats tone your body?

This week we answer a question from Uganda. PT Kim will answer Ingrid’s questions below:

Question: Is basic yoga just stretching or does it do something to your body like tone you? And do squats really make your butt bigger and tighter?

What the expert says:

Hi Ingrid,
Thanks for your two questions on yoga and squats.
Is basic yoga just stretching or does it do something to your body, like tone you.
Yoga has historically been a practice used for uniting the mind, body and spirit. Many people use this practice to still the mind from day to day disturbances. Although yoga is great for improving your flexibility, posture and balance it is unlikely that basic yoga will yield results as quickly as other strength training.
Don’t get me wrong, yoga can be used for strengthening muscles/toning however it does not stress the muscle enough over time for someone looking to bulk up or add more muscle mass. Most forms of yoga use mainly body weight sequences and well toned people may find that this alone is not enough to reach their fitness goals. The practice is usually not fast enough to provide high intensity cardio therefore it won’t help greatly in improving your cardiovascular health. In addition, those who want to obtain muscle definition from yoga would need to practice a more advanced form several times a week.
Dependant on what you want out of your yoga practice and if your fitness goals are to tone up – I would say that basic yoga would be a good addition to your fitness regime rather than the core of it.  
Do squats make your butt bigger and tighter?
In short the answer is yes however there are a lot of other contributing factors like genetics that play a part. Look at people like Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian whose body shape is initially down to their genetics.
Squatting can make your butt bigger or smaller depending on your starting point. What I mean is if you have body fat to lose then squatting will make your butt get initially smaller but more tight and toned. If however you are already lean then you can create a bigger butt through strength training. Whichever boat you are in though it is sure to say that squats do shape up your glutes making them feel and look tighter.
The great thing about squatting is that it is an entire lower body workout, working your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Squats are a great way to build muscle which in turn is a great way to reduce body fat and increase your overall metabolism. There are many variations of the squat that can be used to target different areas. If your goal is to build a bigger butt then performing weighted squats two to three times a week will aid in doing so.
To perform a standard squat you should start with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing slightly outwards. Keep the back straight and sit down as if sitting in a chair. You want to concentrate on keeping your weight in your heels and aiming to bring your thighs parallel to the floor. Many people can find getting a deep squat difficult due to ankle mobility, if you have this issue then try squatting with small weight plates (1-2kg) under each heel which compensates for reduced ankle mobility.
Hope that helps and happy squatting!!

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