Exercises for Building a Better Body! A Scientific Approach
Your main goal for building a better body is to look and feel as good as you can. To do this you must balance development in the upper and lower body. Even specific body parts must show balance. For example, you can’t improve your upper arms without also improving your chest and shoulders. Select exercises based on their ability to isolate and shape specific muscles. This is not as easy as it seems. On the one hand, you must do “whole body” large muscle exercises - such as squats - because they are very effective at toning muscle while helping you maintain body symmetry (size balance between muscle groups). However, you must also do exercises that isolate specific muscles and muscle groups. You can’t build a better body until you can choose exercises that target muscle shape as well as definition. Scientists have an amazing tool called electromyography (EMG) that shows how much muscles work during specific exercises such as benches, squats, curls and sit-up. EMG measures the electrical activity of muscles. Scientists place electrodes over a muscle belly. The harder the muscle works, the more electricity is measured on the EMG. By placing the EMG electrodes (pads that pick up the electrical signal is the muscles) on key muscle groups, scientists can tell which exercises are best for shaping and defining.
How EMG Works Muscles are divided into groups of muscle fibers and nerves called motor units. A motor unit is made up of a nerve cell and between three and 100 muscle fibers. All the fibers in the motor unit contract when your nervous system (brain and spinal cord) turns on the unit. You have fast and slow motor units. The fast motor units (Type ll) are powerful buy they fatigue very fast. The slower units can go all day. But they aren’t very strong. Your body turns on the large fast units when it wants to pick up large weights or move very fast. It calls on slower, smaller units when it doesn’t need to produce much force. You use mainly slow motor unit to stand in line at the grocery store. Your body uses small motor units first and only call on the big ones when it needs to life a heavy load. In other words, when you want to exert more force in order to lift weight, your nervous system turns on more motor units. Your muscles also generate more electricity, which scientists can measure using EMG. EMG has been around for more than 60 years. However, it wasn’t units recently that we had portable units that allow us to study individual weight training exercises. The research has given us important information for optimal training. • When a muscle contracts, its origin and insertion - the places when it attaches to the skeleton and causes movements - move toward each other. This means that the entire muscle contracts. It is difficult or impossible to work specific parts of most muscles. • You can activate and isolate parts of some muscles because of the way individual fibers are arranged within them - arrangements that scientists call pin nation. In a muscle such as the deltoid (round shoulder muscle), the fibers run in many directions, so it is possible to isolate parts of it. This is more difficult in the rectus abdominis (top ab muscle) because the fibers run lengthwise. However, even in the abs, EMG studies show regional muscle activation. What we don’t know is whether it does any good to try to isolate parts of the muscle. • The more shapely and defined your muscles become, the more difficult it is to train them further. The EMG studies show that only higher intensities will have an effect. • Many exercises can work muscles equally well if you push hard enough. For example, you can exercises your biceps equally well doing standing and preacher curls - if you push to max on each of the lifts. However, preacher curls isolate the biceps better because you can’t use body sway to help you get the reps. EMG has many problems, but it is good for telling us whether an exercise uses a muscle. In other words, we can tell whether a muscle is turned on or off. Based on EMG studies and measurements, these 12 exercises are proven to isolate and shape the most important muscle groups in your body for achieving the perfect body.
For building a better body CHEST Incline Bench Press You may use the Smith machine or barbell for this exercise. The technique: Lying on an incline bench on your back with your feet on the floor, grasp the bar with palms upward and hands shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar to your chest. Then return it to the starting position. Using a wider grip will slightly increase the load. Dumbell bench press is also an excellent chest exercise. Dumbbell Flyes The technique: Lying on a flat or incline bench on your back with your feet on the floor, grasp the dumbbells with palms facing each other and arms extended above your chest. Lower the dumbbells in a wide arc to the side until the dumbbells reach the chest and shoulder level and you feel a stretch in your chest muscles. Keep the dumbbells in line with your elbows and shoulders. Pull the dumbbells toward each other in a wide arc back to the starting position.
SHOULDERS Shoulder Press (Military Press) This exercise can be done standing or seated. Standing presses load the muscles in the legs, hips, and trunk to stabilize the body. Seated presses better isolate the shoulder muscles. You can use the Smith machine or barbells and dumbbells. The technique: Seated or standing, grasp the weight with your palms facing away from you Push the weight overhead until your arms are extended. Then return to the starting position.
Seated Side Laterals The technique: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a bench. Lift your arms up and out to the sides until the dumb-bells are at shoulder height. Slowly lower the weights back down. Rear Deltoid Raises The technique: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lie on an incline bench. Lean forward so that your chest is flat on the bench. Let your arms hang down. Raise your arms up and out to the sides, bending your elbows until they are level with your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift. Slowly lower your arms back down.