Do Lunges to Build Strong Legs and Core
Exercises that isolate specific muscle groups are best for promoting muscle growth. Developing a stable core – muscles in the abs, back and hips that support the spine – gives you a more athletic appearance and protect you from back pain. Lunges fulfill both criteria. They isolate the quads, hamstrings and glutes one side at a time and force your core muscles to stabilize your trunk. Correct exercise form: Stand, legs shoulder-width apart, with a barbell resting on the fleshy part of your upper back. Keeping your spine erect, lunge forward on your right leg, making sure your lead knee is above your toes and your back knee stays underneath your hips. Repeat with left leg in front. Do the exercise deliberately with good form. As an alternate, perform this exercise holding a dumbbell in each hand or do it on the Smith machine.
Supersets Decrease Peak Muscle Load. Supersets – exercising a muscle group, then immediately exercising its antagonistic muscle group – have been popular for more than 60 years. Trainers who advocate doing supersets say they are a great way to cut training time without compromising the quality of the workout. Like many training ideas, supersets have never been evaluated scientifically – until now. Drs. Jeremy Maynard and William Ebben from Marquette University found that fatiguing the hamstring muscles decreased the force output of the quadriceps. The researchers used electromyography (EMG), a technique that measures the electrical output of the muscles, to estimate the activation of the muscles. Muscle tension and the amount of time tension is applied are the most important factors determining increases in muscle size and strength. This study showed that doing supersets, at least in the thigh muscles, cut down on the activation of the quads. The implication of the study is that you should train quads and hams on different days, or one muscle group in the morning and the other in the afternoon or evening. (American Fitness, published online; J Strength Cond Res, 17: 469-474)
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