Best Workout Moves for Flexibility and Toning
June 04, 2019 | Blog: The Range

Best Workout Moves for Flexibility and Toning

Remember when you were a kid and you could do a split, no problem? As you got older, you probably got less gifted in the flexibility department. The good news: Whether you’re a CrossFit champ, a prima ballerina, or you consider yelling at the TV during “Vanderpump Rules” your cardio, it’s never too late to reclaim some of that flexibility and toning. (You can’t, unfortunately, recapture your childlike innocence.)

Killer Moves

A good workout routine features a warmup, followed by your cardio or strength training and then a cooldown. The following best workout exercises are perfect to incorporate into both your warmup and cooldown period because they help lengthen and stretch those core muscles groups you’re looking to tone and make more flexible. 

Here’s a quick flexibility exercise routine that blends together stretch and strength to help tone your body in the process. How’s that for efficiency? 

woman doing quad stretch

1. Standing Quad Stretch

How to Do It: This is a fabulous stretch to improve thigh muscle flexibility.

  • Begin by standing with your feet together. 

  • Keep your abs pulled in and your shoulders relaxed. 

  • Bending your right knee, use your right hand to pull your right foot up toward your butt. 

  • Squeeze glutes, and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. 

  • Repeat on the other side.

What It Does: Stretches and tones the thigh and hips. 

woman doing lunge twists on a yoga mat

2. Lunge with a Twist

How to Do It: It’s also called “the world’s greatest stretch,” which pretty much speaks for itself.

  • Stand with your feet together

  • Take a giant step forward at an angle with your right foot.

  • Bend your right knee into a lunge keeping your left leg straight behind you. 

  • Put left hand on the floor, twisting your upper body to the right. 

  • Extend your right arm toward the ceiling. 

  • Hold for 30 seconds. 

  • Do 15 reps, and then repeat on the other side.

What It Does: Stretches your back and hips, and helps tone your quads, while lengthening your spine.

woman doing figure four stretch on a yoga mat

3. Figure 4 Stretch 

How to Do It: We love this stretch after squats or lunges because it provides some relief to your glutes.

  • Lie on your back, keeping knees bent and feet placed on the floor. 

  • With your right leg on the floor, lift your left leg up and place ankle on the thigh of your right leg. 

  • Put your hands behind your right knee, and hug your knee toward your chest. 

  • Return to the ground and switch sides. 

  • Do five reps on each side.

What It Does: Stretches and strengthens hips, back, hamstrings, and glutes. 

woman doing a pushup

4. Push-Up

How to Do It: The classic exercise endures thanks to the results it gets, and it’ll help you achieve Michelle Obama-worthy arms in the process.

  • Lay face-down on the floor with your feet spread about a foot apart. 

  • Place palms on the ground slightly wider than your shoulders. 

  • Keeping toes on the floor, lift your body up until your arms are fully extended. 

  • Begin bending your arms and lowering your chest to about 5 inches from the floor. 

  • Keep your back and legs straight. 

  • Do 10 to 12 reps.

What It Does: Works shoulders and arms.

women doing donkey kicks in a workout class

5. Donkey Kicks 

How to Do It: These butt-busting leg lifts make for a quick and easy floor exercise.

  • Begin on all fours, making sure your hands line up with your shoulders and your knees line up with your hips. 

  • Slowly raise your left leg up, keeping your foot flexed and knee bent at a 90-degree angle, until your leg is parallel to the floor. 

  • Keeping your back still, return your leg to the ground. 

  • Repeat 20 times on each side.

What It Does: Helps tone those glutes. 

toning and flexibility FAQs graphic

How often do I need to exercise to tone up? 

Studies recommend you work out at least twice a week to tone those muscles. So for a beginner, two days of strength training is a great goal to jump-start your toning and flexibility goals. For those more advanced, try for three to five days of training a week. And don’t forget to add cardio in the mix at all levels. 

When will I see my flexibility improve?

Interestingly, even working a specific group of muscles for just 30 seconds a day can help your flexibility improve in as little as four to six weeks. The more you do—and the longer you do it—the more flexibility you’ll achieve. 

How often should I perform these exercises?

It’s really ideal to train each muscle group in your body about twice a week. You know yourself, though, so if you’re having an off day or need a day of rest, take it. 

What are some other cardio and strength exercises I can incorporate into my routine?

We love the super toning training workouts created by former bodybuilder Doug Lawrensen. 

Can I modify any of the moves?

Yep. Modify for based on your personal goals. If traditional push-ups aren’t your speed, use your knees on the ground … or even do standing push-ups. You may even add in weights and resistance bands to some of these exercises. 

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