The_Exercises - The Big Three Defined Muscles worked:...

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Unformatted text preview: The Big Three Defined Muscles worked: Quadriceps. hamstrings, gluteus maximus. spinal erectors. The squat is an excellent exercise for strengthening and toning . the thighs and buttocks. It is especially recommended for would-be ath— letes of any age who are interested in increasing their power and leg strength. Directions: Place the bar across your back just below the point at which the neck joins the torso. Make sure that the"bar is not resting on your seventh cervical vertebra (the one that protrudes when you bend your head forward), as holding it too high on the neck will not only be painful for you, it will also decrease your ability to maintain a flat-backed upright position when descending with the weight. Place your feet shoul- der-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward, and focus your eyes on a fixed point on the opposite side of the room. Keeping your eyes on this spot, take a deep breath and lower your body slowly until the tops of your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. When you have reached this posi- tion, reverse gears, and push yourself back upward as quickly as possible, keeping your back flat, your eyes fixed on the spot on the opposite wall, and the weight under control at all times. At the top, breathe out, take another deep breath, and repeat. Tips: Though they look easy, squats are hard for many people to do because of a lack of the necessary flexibility or even balance. Make sure to stretch out well before you begin the squat portion of your workout, and do at least one set of deep knee bends with no weight at all as an extra warm-up. If you find it hard to keep your heels on the floor, place a one—inch board or a pair of barbell plates under your heels. Try to use as little extra height as you can, however, as the higher your heels are ele- vated, the more the stress of the exercise is thrown onto the quadriceps muscles alone and away from the hip, thigh bicep, and low back muscles. Experiment with your foot stance during the early stages of your train- ing. Sometimes, slightly widening the stance or turning your toes further out will solve your balance problems. If you don’t have a bench with a squat rack attached, your main problem will be getting the bar to your shoulders to do the lifts. Your training partner is important here, as he or she can either lift the weight to your shoulders for you or help you put it in place yourself. Training partners should also be alert for uneven positioning that will make the bar seem heavier on one side than the other. When in the proper posi- tion, the bar should rest just below the top of the deltoid muscles on the back, not on the shoulders. As for the lift itself, take a full chest of air at the top and hold it throughout the descent. When you pass the midpoint of the upward part of the push, exhale. Then, take another full breath before you do your second repetition. Don’t be surprised, as you use heavier weights, if you find yourself taking 2 and even 3 breaths between your reps. Squats will make you puff — and puff hard—which is one of the reasons so many coaches and physiologists recommend them to athletes. If you do your sets quickly enough, you’ll find yourself feeling as if you just finished a series of 50-yard dashes, so be sure to allow your body time to recover be— fore going on to the next set or the next exercise. The Squat I49 The Bench Press 150 APPROACHING THE WEIGHTS Muscles worked: Pectorals, deltoids, triceps. The muscles of the forearm are slightly involved in stabilizing the weight. Directions: Lie on the bench in a supine (face upward) position and grip the bar, as it rests in the rack, approximately at shoulder width, palms facing forward. With the aid of your spotter, remove the bar from the rack and hold it at arms” length directly over your sternum (center of your chest where the ribs join). From this position (not with the bar at arms’ length over your face) lower the ~bar to the chest to a point at the lower end of the sternum (women should lower the bar to the point on their chest immediately beneath their breasts) and then push it upward until it is again at arms’ length over the chest. As with the squats, take a full breath of in the starting position, hold it through the descent, and exhale after you’ve passed midway on the upward push. Make sure that your feet stay planted firmly on the floor and that your buttocks and shoulders do not lift off the bench. Tips: The bench press moves in a slight are from the point on your chest where you touch the sternum to the lock-out position. In the early going, with light weights, you will probably not notice much arc at all, as you can easily push the weights directly up over your chest. However, as the weights get heavier, you’ll need to concentrate more on the tech— nique of the lift. Try to visualize a path of movement from the chest up that brings the bar back toward the face; It will help if you bring the elbows close to the body at the bottom of the lift and then “flare” them out as the bar glides back up the grooved arc. Try to hit the same place on your sternum with each repetition and make sure that you touch the chest each time in order to get the full range of movement from the lift. Two other things to keep in mind are your position on the bench and your grip on the bar. Most lifters try to arch their backs slightly when they are lying on the bench. The arching of the back makes the chest “taller,” which means you have a shorter distance to push the bar. Presto, heavier weights, However, you should also do your bench presses with your back flat some of the time as this will give you a bit more mus- cular work, even though you can’t lift quite as much weight, since you have to push the bar further. Also, be careful to position yourself far enough down the-bench so that when you push the bar to lock—out you won’t hit the uprights, or catchers, on the bench. Sometimes, on really heavy lifts, you may feel a slight cramping sensation in your lower back as you push the bar upward. This is not abnormal. and is the result of your arched back position. Make sure to warm your back up properly, as well as your shoulders, before you bench and you should avoid the prob- lem. However, if you do cramp, pull your knees into your chest to stretch out the back muscles and allow the cramp to relax before you do your next set. For your own safety, always have someone hand off the weights to you so you can set up well away from the racks. If you must bench alone, never attempt to lift weights near your limit and always leave the collars off the bar so you can tip it to one side and let the plates slide off in case you happen to get stuck at the bottom. The alternative involves being pinned under a heavy bar, which will quickly result in severe oxygen deprivation, a sure way to spoil your day. As for your grip, start training with a shoulder—width grip; a few people do use extremely wide hand- spacings to increase the work on the pectorals —— the wider the grip the more the “pecs” are worked, the closer the grip the more the shoulders and triceps are worked. Y0u should vary your grip from time to time to prevent mental and physical staleness. But be careful to warm up well if you significantly alter your grip from one workout to the next. TRAINING AT HOME WITH THE BASICS I51 Adding 0n, Basically There are, of course, a number of other exercises you can also do with your two basic pieces of equipment, and after you’ve completed your first training cycle, you may wish to add a few exercises. Below is a list — arranged according to the areas of the body worked — of some of the many exercises that can be done with your basic equipment. Lower-Body Exercises The Deadlift Muscles worked: Lumbars, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, trapezius, la- tissimus dorsi, quadriceps, forearms Directions: Place the barbell on the floor in front of you about an inch from your lower legs. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, keep your back flat, and grasp the bar in an overhand, shoulder-width grip or in a reverse grip with one hand over and one hand under (see photos on this page). The reverse grip is used with heavy weights to keep the bar from slipping from your hands. Whichever grip you choose, make sure it is even by checking to see that your hands are equidistant from the center of the bar. Then, look upward at a point on the opposite wall, push with your legs, keeping your back flat and your hips down, until you are standing erect with your shoulders back and the barbell resting across the front of your thighs. To do your repetitions, bend your knees, lower the bar in the same flat—backed posi- tion, and repeat. If you’re using an exercise set, with plates that are smaller in diameter, we recommend that you not touch the floor on every repetition. Do your repetitions by going only about halfway down your lower leg before you begin the upward pull for the next repetition. Tips: Over 50 percent of all weight-training exercises use the dead- lift to get the bar into the proper starting position. For this reason, learn to do it properly. The flat-backed, heads-up position used here is critical. Also, don’t “yank” the weights off the floor. Use your legs to generate the starting force and remember to keep the bar moving in a straight line upward, close to your body. The further in front of your body the bar gets the “heavier” the weight will seem, because of unfavorable leverage. Never look down when deadlifting. Keep your eyes straight ahead— even slightly upward — and your back will stay flat, your hips will stay down, you’ll lift more weight, and your body will respond to the exercise. The High Pull 154 APPROACHING THE WEIGHTS Muscles worked: Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus-v 'maximus, lumbars, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, biceps, forearms, etc. The high pull is one of the finest exercises a person can do, especially an athlete, as it involves almost every muscle in the body, working together. Directions: Assume the starting position for the deadlift, using an overhand grip of shoulder width. (Because high pulls are explosive, quick movements, you may wish to use your hand straps.) Flatten your back, raise your head, and, taking a full breath of air, pull the barbell from the floor as if you were doing a deadlift— only more quickly— until the bar is just past your knees. Then, without stopping the bar, shift your hips forward quickly and continue to pull even higher, extending the body by rising onto your toes with your elbows flaring out to the sides as high as they can be pulled. At the top position, which you will maintain only momentarily, your elbows will be high, the bar will be in front of your chest with your palms facing downward; your body should be fully extended and straight, and you will be standing on tiptoe, your eyes look- ing slightly upward. From this top position, lower the bar to your thighs, dipping slightly at the knee to catch the weight as it comes down, and then straighten your back and legs to assume a finished deadlift position. To do your second repetition, lower the bar just below the knees (not all the way to the floor) and begin the upward pull again. Tips: Though a bit difficult to learn, this exercise is well worth the trouble. We strongly recommend that you incorporate it into your routine at some point. High pulls work almost all of the muscles of the body, they make your heart and lungs pump, and they’re fun. The bar almost floats at the top when they’re done correctly. Think about jumping as you do these, though you shouldn’t actually come off the floor. But try to get that sort of momentum and speed going as you go through your repetitions. The Lunge 156 APPROACHING THE WEIGHTS Muscles worked: Gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves Directions: Place a light bar across your shoulders and stand with your feet together. Raise your right foot and step out forward, allowing your left heel to raise upward, left toes pointed directly ahead. As you step forward, lower yourself into a deep split with your right knee bent and your left (or back) leg kept fairly straight. You should feel a stretching sensation in your hips and the back and inside of your front thigh and a stretch on the inside of your back thigh. Then, push with your right leg and raise upward as rapidly as you can — using only one thrust to return your body to the starting position. Reverse your legs and repeat. Throughout the lift try to stay as upright as possible and keep your back leg from touching the floor. Tips: Let us warn you, these will make you very sore the first couple of times you do them. In fact, do no more than 10 repetitions per leg on the first day with no added weight. Add weight only when you can do sev- eral sets of 10 reps easily with no weight. The reason they produce such soreness is because they work all the hip and thigh muscles so com- pletely, which is why we highly recommend them as an addition to your routine. To help yourself stay upright, put a broomstick across your shoulders until you have gained enough strength so that you can use the barbell. Lunges require good flexibility, but like other flexibility move- ments they can be worked into gradually. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t go very low in these at first. Just make sure to work a little lower each time you do them and to keep your back leg almost straight — not touching the floor. Keeping your back up- right will also help you get lower. One final word. Your back foot should always point straight ahead. Your heel will come up, of course, but the toes should be pointed in the same direction as you’re facing. Don’t turn the back foot out to the side, as this significantly lessens the effect of the exercise. You may find it hard to balance, but stick with the toes-ahead position, even if you hold on to something the first day or two while you get used to the movement. Standing, or Military, Press 162 APPROACHING THE WEIGHTS Muscles worked: Deltoids and triceps Directions: Place your feet shoulder-width apart and, with an over- hand shoulder-width grip, deadlift the bar until it rests against the front of your thighs. Next, bend your knees slightly and pull the bar quickly from your thighs to your shoulders, turning your palms upward at the shoulder so that the bar rests in the palms, across the clavicle area. Any- time you pull the bar from the floor to your shoulders, in one movement, it is said that you have “cleaned” the weight. This simply means that you have lifted the weight “cleanly” — without touching the body — to the final position. In many rural areas, particularly in the South and South- west, you still hear people speak of someone lifting something “clean over his head.” Used this way, “clean” has come to mean “all the way," whereas in the old days it was used to distinguish between a “clean” lift and one called a “continental” lift, in which the bar touched the body one or more times on the way up. Anyway, now that the bar is at your shoulders, push it straight up, keeping it close to your face until it is locked at arms’ length overhead. Lower the bar to your chest and repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions. Once you’ve completed the set, lower the bar to your thighs, bend your legs, keep your back flat, and return the bar to the floor. Tips: Stability is important in this lift, so make sure you have on good sturdy shoes. Clinching or contracting the muscles of the thighs and hips also helps. You should also wear your lifting belt. You can bend back a bit as the bar goes up, but don’t bend so far back that you are no longer basically “upright.” You can cause undue back strain by bending back too far. You’ll also not get as much benefit from the presses. Finally, make sure the ceiling is high enough to do these. A young friend of ours in Canada once put a sizeable hole in his family’s living room ceiling when he decided to show his girlfriend how much he could lift over his head. Muscles worked: Deltoids and triceps Directions: Seated presses are done the same way standing presses are except you are seated on your bench. To get the bar to your shoul~ ders, you have two options. You can “clean” the weight as you did for the standing press and then sit down to do the actual presses, or you can straddle the bench, facing the bench—press racks, and take the bar off those. In either case make sure that you straighten your back‘before you begin your presses. Tips: Many lifters prefer to do seated presses because they feel the seated position allows them to “isolate” the muscles in the arms and Shoulders, making them do the lift more strictly. There is less chance to cheat by dipping your knees or by bending backward to help you get the weight up when you’re seated, and thus many bodybuilders favor the seated position. One thing that’s commonly done to insure a straight- backed position is for a lifter’s training partner to sit back to back with him, thereby providing a brace. The person lifting the weight can often lift quite a bit more weight braced in this manner and you might want to try it if the lift seems awkward to you. Don’t be surprised if you have to use less weight in the seated press than you can lift in the standing press. Even though you plant your feet as firmly as possible you won’t have quite as much leverage for the lift, seated, as you had standing — though you’ll isolate the deltoid muscles more completely and, perhaps, get bet- ter results. Seated Press TRAINING AT HOME WITH THE BASICS 163 Dumbbell Fly 208 APPROACHING THE WEIGHTS Muscles worked: Pectorals and front deltoids Directions: Using a light pair of dumbbells, lie on your bench with your arms straight overhead, your feet, hips, and head stationary. Then, with your palms facing each other, cock your wrists outward as if you were going to do a wrist curl and move the dumbbells away from each other in a large semicircular pattern, so that at the bottom position your arms are extended out to the sides of your body, with your elbows slightly bent and your wrists still cocked. Reverse the circular motion to return to the top and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Tips: Flies should be done with slow, controlled movements so that in the bottom position you feel a burning sensation in the pectoral-deltoid region on each repetition that lets you know you are “stretching” far enough. This is not an exercise that calls for heavy poundages. Just use good form and work low on each rep‘ Since these are an isolation exercise for the pectorals, do these following your benches or incline presses so that the pectoral muscles will already be prefatigued. Then, the light, controlled movements of the dumbbell flies will help to really flush the pectoral muscles with blood, causing growth. This is one exercise that we especially recommend to women trainers. You can’t do anything to change the size of your breasts, but you can change the pectorals under- neath the breasts, and these are one of the better exercises for firming and enlarging them. Lat Pulldown Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi Directions: Kneel on the floor in front of the lat pulldown machine so that the bar, when pulled to the chest, will be coming down from the top pulley at a slight angle. (You can intensify this angle by leaning slightly backward.) Take a wide, overhand grip on the bar and pull it to the top of the chest. It should touch the chest roughly 2 to 3 inches higher than your bench presses do. Keep the back arched slightly throughout the repetitions. Tips: Some lat machines have seats affixed to them that will help to hold you in place. If there is no seat, however, you may need to ask some- one to help brace you, as it is difficult to hold yourself down properly when using fairly respectable weights. To do this, get your training part- ner to press down lightly on the tops of your shoulders, close to your neck, where it will not interfere with the movement. Variations: Besides the kneeling position, you might want to try these while seated on the floor. Sometimes, by sitting on the floor, you can brace yourself with your feet and not need a spotter to assist you. As with kneeling pulldowns, however, do not rock back and forth with each repetition. Allow your muscles to do the work— not your body weight. Close-Grip Pulldowns: These are done in basically the same manner although the palms are turned upward and the hands are placed on the bar about 6 inches apart. Once again, pull the bar to the chest while keeping your back as stationary as possible. Behind the Neck Pulldowns: Knee) in front of the lat machine with a wide overhand grip on the bar. Keeping the back straight, allow your head to drop forward so that the bar can be pulled to the top of the shoul- ders, behind the head. As with all other latwork, do these slowly, and control the bar as it moves upward. Don’t be injured by being jerked up— ward. The Crunch I80 APPROACHING THE WEIGHTS Muscles worked: Upper abdomen Directions: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet secured as if you were going to do a bent—leg sit-up. Tuck your chin against your chest, place your hands behind your head and roll or curl your head and shoulders — only your head and shoulders — off the floor. At the top of the crunch, before you “uncurl” and repeat the movement, you should feel a tightening sensation directly below your rib cage. Tips: Many physiologists feel that crunches and their several kinfolk are the most effective exercises available for strengthening the upper ab- domen. Crunches are intense —— they require good concentration — and should be done with a pause at the top of each repetition so that the stom~ aCh muscles can be fully contracted. Remember to roll just the head and shoulders off the floor and to tuck the chin against the chest on every rep. This exercise is especially recommended for pregnant women. Variations: A highly effective variation of the crunch movement can be done by lying on the floor with your lower legs resting on the top of your bench. Place your hips as close to the side of the bench as possible and perform your crunches in the same way yOu would have done them with your feet on the floor. Three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane is espe- cially fond of this variation and even recommends that the isolation be accentuated by raising the hips at the same time as you raise the shoul- ders. Crunches can also be done with added weight; hold the plates either behind the head or in front, on the chest. You can also make them even more difficult by alternately crossing your bent legs. This throws even more work onto the abdominal muscles. Dumbbell Rowing Motion Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi muscles, biceps, brachialis Directions: Place a moderately heavy dumbbell on the floor at the‘ end of your bench and grasp it with an overhand grip, your palm facing your body. Brace your upper body by placing your other arm on your knee so that at the start your knees are bent, your back is straight, one arm is grasping the dumbbell on the floor, and the other‘is braced against your thigh. If your back has a tendency to give you problems, this is a far better exercise than regular rows with a barbell. Then, keeping your back flat, pull the dumbbell from the floor to your chest, raising your elbow well past chest level until there’s a contraction in the back of your upper body. Slowly lower the dumbbell until your arm is straight (just shy of the floor) and repeat. Tips: This is one of our favorite exercises and we’ve both done thou— sands of them through the years. Even as many as we’ve done, though, we still have to watch ourselves because it’s easy to “cheat” on these. In- stead of pulling the weight with just your upper—back muscles, you give a little push by dipping and bending your legs. You can lift more weight that way, but it doesn’t do you as much good. Try to watch your legs and let your back—not your thighs — get the benefit. Another thing you may want to remember as you increase your weights is to use a hand strap to help your grip. Just use one as you would when using a barbell. Wrap the strap firmly around the dumbbell handle before you begin your set. And finally, although you start with the dumbbell squarely in front of you, your palms facing your shins, your hand should turn at the top of the movement so that it ends up facing the side of your body. This allows you to pull the dumbbell and your elbow even higher, causing a greater contraction. ' TRAINING AT HOME WITH THE WORKS 209 ...
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The_Exercises - The Big Three Defined Muscles worked:...

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