Certain exercises can elongate your muscles, creating a longer, leaner, more dancer-like physique.
The proponents of this myth (hint: They're usually wearing a leotard) swear that stretching, reaching, contracting and pulsing moves can help you develop longer, leaner muscles (as opposed to those infamous "bulky" muscles you often hear about—which probably wouldn't ever happen because your testosterone level is naturally too low). In Pilates and ballet-style workouts, you isolate different muscles and tighten them, then slowly control the release (or you contract, contract more, contract more, hold...then release). Instead of putting a heavy load on the muscle (in the form of a dumbbell, for example), you work against gravity and your body's own resistance. These moves cannot permanently lengthen the muscle, says Jessica Matthews, an associate professor of exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego. Nothing can, because muscles are attached to the bone at specific points, so the only way to lengthen them is to surgically detach and reattach them. However, Pilates and other dance-inspired exercises can improve your flexibility, increase joint mobility and significantly strengthen all of the muscles that make up your core, Matthews says. When your core is stronger, you stand straighter, and you'll probably look taller—even if your muscles have not grown in length.