A few years ago Salma Hayek stated in an interview that she doesn’t have much time to work out to maintain her lean figure. Instead of sweating it out in the gym, she holds her body in a way that “activates her muscles” all day long.
When I first heard of this, my mind immediately wanted to dispell her “fitness secrets” as a big fat lie. Shortly after giving the interview, a bunch of news outlets published articles to dispell the myth that holding your body a certain way to maintain a toned figure is possible.
Over the years, I’ve really reflected on what Salma said and now I realize that she may actually be on to something.
Part of the reason why I couldn’t just dismiss her claims is because I’m fully aware that certain “exercises” don’t require gym equipment to provide solid results. All we have to do is engage them properly to enjoy the benefits.
I’ll give you some examples.
Most women are encouraged to do kegel exercises for the sake of strengthening their pelvic floor. Kegals are simply a series of contractions that can be done anywhere, anytime. By pulling in your inner pelvic muscles you strengthen that area. If any of you have consistently practiced your kegels, you know that they really do work! Some will notice a difference in strength within weeks.
The other movement I know that offers muscle toning without traditional exercise movements are transverse abdominal exercises. Basically, these exercises target our inner corset (the transverse muscles). Back when I was serious about creating a toned/fit waist, I invested a couple minutes a day contracting the deepest layers of my core. The results were astonishing. All I did was pull in my tummy as much as I could while holding the contraction. That movement created enough tension to activate the muscles in a powerful way.
|Salma Hayek wearing a corset to help snatch her waist while maintaining good posture.|
Planks are another (more advanced) version. Again, all you have to do is “hold your body a certain way” (parallel to the floor) and you activate and strengthen your entire core muscle group. There’s no contraction involved (unlike sit-ups) but they still tone the core in a major way. There’s something to be said about contracting a muscle to help it maintain it’s strength. Obviously, exercises that involve a full range of motions is ideal. But, we can discount the potential of simply activating our muscles.
I remember the old workout videos from the 80’s. At the end of each set of reps, the instructor would urge everyone to hold and squeeze the muscle to feel the burn. And burn it did. This was often the most difficult part of the workout. All we were doing was holding and squeezing.
Again, simply contracting and hold the muscle doesn’t create an ultra-toned physique. But, we can’t completely reject Salma’s technique of holding and activating her muscles all day as nonsense. Because it kinda does make sense. At the very least, we know that by contracting and holding, we activate the flow of blood to that area. This brings more oxygen to the muscle and that’s a good thing. More blood to the muscle means we create more energy (ATP).
Sitting or standing in a natural, fully relaxed position, requires little to no effort. But the simple act of focusing on our posture, or better yet, contracting and engaging our muscles requires a bit more effort. This could this could result in burning few extra calories per day. Heck, if you simply stood up while working on your computer versus sitting, you could burn up to 50 extra calories per hour. No extra movement involved. Imagine the possibilities if you coupled standing with kegels and transverse exercises while squeezing the glutes.
At the very least, I believe we should be conscious about engaging our bodies and maintaining good posture at all times. Most everyone slouches but if you focus on being poised, it helps you stand out. I’m sure Salma still works out, she probably incorporates this technique as a supplement for those times when she can’t step for in a gym. By keeping her muscles engaged, she probably retains more muscle tone than if she were to go weeks or months without working out. This fully won’t replace your gym visits for gaining muscle but it certainly can’t hurt to try.