Sometimes, a weightlifting program can be counterproductive, especially when it comes to hardcore lifters. Sure, building up particular body parts such as the pectorals and biceps can be enticing because of its eyelevel location. Hey, people dig the eye-catching, sexy muscles.
But overworking them while not equally working the antagonist muscles may lead to imbalances. That also applies to lower body muscles including the ones of the legs and hip. That’s why it’s imperative to equally work the opposite muscle, not only for muscle balance but to avoid any possible injuries over time as well. Here a few exercises to help you circumvent muscle imbalances in your workout regime.
Note: the following exercises can be included on separate days. For instance, you can perform back and biceps on one day, and chest and tricep on another. Sets and repetitions will vary according to specific workout goals.
If you’re enamored with the bench press and other pectoral building exercises, you need to add in a good measure of rowing movements in order to work the back muscles, thus opening up the chest and anterior shoulder areas. I like the wide and close grip rows to help build the rhomboids and trapezius muscles, along with the rear deltoids.
Like the pectoral muscles, building the biceps has become a gym favorite. And who can blame anyone for wanting the alluring look of massive biceps?
But you don’t want to neglect or underwork the triceps because of possible muscle imbalances. Furthermore, what most people feel to realize is that big arms cannot be achieved without building the triceps, as it makes up a good portion of the arm.
These particular exercises will hit all three heads of the triceps.
- Skull crushers/lying triceps extensions/French press
- Pushdown using straight bar with a narrow grip
- Overhead extension (reverse grip as well)
Tip: Make sure to keep your thumb of the same side of your hand where your fingers are (false grip), not underneath, when performing exercises such as skull crushers, overhead extensions and pushdowns.
When you wrap your thumb around the bar, the brachioradialis muscle in the forearm is called into play to help keep the thumb in place and this takes the emphasis off of the triceps. Using a false grip places the stress on the tricep.
While special attention is paid to muscles of the lower leg like the quadriceps and hamstrings, your hip is your center of gravity. Consequently, a weak, imbalanced and inflexible hip area can have catastrophic effects—particularly on your lower limbs because the hip is where all movement in the lower leg begins.
Hip muscles and ligaments are among the most powerful in the body and they can affect gait, quickness, agility, and explosive power. Here are strength and flexibility exercises that will help counteract the problematic area:
Hip Abduction and Adduction Exercises
The easiest, and best, way to strengthen both areas is the abductor and adductor machine at a gym. Make sure the machine’s pads are adjusted on the outside to work the abductors, and inside to work adductors. Frequency: Three to four sets, 12-15 reps at modernly challenging weight will do the trick.
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch (Iliopsoas/psoas major and the iliacus)
Most people tend to have tight hip flexors because of the repetitive motions done throughout the course of daily living—such as walking up stairs. The below stretch will lengthen and loosen the muscles in the front hip area. Frequency: Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 4-5 times, then stretch the opposite leg.
- Place one leg in front of you, with one leg in back of you a decent distance apart from the front leg.
- Lean your trunk back while pulling your hip flexor area forward without moving your back leg. You should feel the stretch in the hip flexor region of the back leg.
Let’s face it, bulging quadriceps are what attracts attention. However, working that huge muscle group while ignoring the hamstring may produce negative consequences.
Employ these exercise, and you won’t regret it.
Leg curls (on an angled bench)
- Lie on your stomach, with the machine adjusted to your height and selected weight on the stack.
- Make sure the lever is a few inches below your calves.
- Slowly curl your legs up to your buttocks without losing contact with the padded lever.
- Proceed to gradually return the weight down to the starting position.
- Grab a bar using an overhand grip (bars vary in weight, so make sure you pick an appropriate weight) and keep your knees locked.
- Keep your arms locked as well and stand up to lift the weight.
- Arch your back without rounding it. Please don’t bounce.
November 22nd 2015, written by Jerry Del Priore for Bodono.
Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College in 1991. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams.
Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, which encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what!
Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Jerry is also a Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews.
In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments.