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Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their movement patterns. They want to sprint faster, jump higher, push harder, etc. Much of their training is designed to help them get better at doing these things. But what if I told you that many athletes are carrying out basic functions—like standing and breathing—incorrectly? And that since these basic functions are flawed, the athletic movements built upon them are also flawed.

The problem is posture.

Read more: Your Posture is Hurting your Performance—Here's How to Fix It

Everyone has an idea in their head when it comes to looking their fittest and healthiest. For some, it's fitting perfectly into a certain outfit, or walking on the beach in a bikini with total confidence. For others, it may mean seeing a defined midsection reflected in the mirror, or having strong, toned shoulders or legs. We all have our own goals for how we want to look and feel. Although your specific goals may be different from those of others, almost everyone wants to look and feel toned and fit.

But what does "toned" really mean? And is it different from "bulking" up? This article sets out to define just that—and to dispel some myths about toning, strengthening and bulking up.

What Is Toning?

When most people say that they want to "tone up," what they usually mean is that they want to become leaner. Basically, they want to lose fat, and add a little muscle definition—but not so much muscle mass that they look like a bodybuilder (much more on that later).

In the fitness world, there is no real definition for toning that is greatly recognized. Rather, toning is a term used to describe the end goal, which usually results from a combination of basic weight-lifting and fat-burning.

What about Bulking Up?

Typically, men want to "bulk up" and women usually wish to avoid building big, bulky muscles. Although there is no strict definition, "bulking up" means adding a lot of muscle mass to the body and possibly (although not always) reducing one's body fat, too. Bulking up harkens images of bodybuilders and big football players—usually male and usually beefy!

Read more: Toning vs. Bulking Up: The Real Facts

Your body is a machine that constantly reinvents itself. Every minute of every day, it breaks down its own tissues and replaces them with new stuff it makes from a combination of the food you eat and recycled material it scavenges from other tissues.

No matter how old your Facebook profile says you are, your component parts are considerably younger. Even your bones replace themselves every 10 years. By that standard, your muscle cells, with an average age of 15 years old, are the adults at the party.

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Top bodybuilder's have even cited yoga and functional fitness training as pivotal changes that put them on the podium at competitions. Yoga is an excellent means of improving flexibility and reducing an athlete's risk of injury—which, for hard training bodybuilders lifting all the time, is significant. While adding flexibility and functional strength, yoga also alleviates much of the soreness caused by heavy lifting.

While yoga has applications for many lifestyles and health conditions, we'll explore specifically how yoga can help weight lifters, given the specific goals and demands that face these sorts of athletes. We'll go over a few of the key reasons to explore yoga and why so many people turn to this ancient practice as a means of improving their health, both physically and mentally.

# 1 Strength & Flexibility

Read more: How Yoga Will Help You Build Muscle Mass

Most people believe that all exercises are good, safe and effective. After all it's exercise—and that has to count for something, doesn't it?

The truth is that some common exercises aren't safe at all (especially for people who have muscle, joint, and health problems). Certain exercises require a bit more know-how than the average person possesses. And other exercises are downright wastes of your time.

But before we examine some of the most controversial exercises, I want to make it clear that every exercise on this list isn't always unsafe or ineffective for everyone. What you should do—or avoid—depends on your goals, fitness level, health history, workout schedule, and other personal issues. An article like this can't replace your own efforts to identify your goals and needs. That requires you to do some research on your own, talk to your medical professional about any pain or physical limitations you have, and learn how to exercise with proper form and technique.

Read more: 5 Exercises You Should Never Do

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