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Know Your Muscles - The Lower Body
By: Rick Mitchell

Becoming familiar with the muscles that make up your body has more benefits than simply allowing you to talk shop with your training partners. The more familiar you are with the muscles you're working, the better you'll be able to judge what's needed to make improvements. In this article we'll get to know the muscles that make up the lower body.

This is where you'll find the big, strong muscles that allow us to get around. The main muscles found below the waist are as follows:

1. Quadriceps femoris - this is a group of four muscles found at the front of the thigh. These are the vastus lateralis on the outside, the vastus medialis on the inside, the vastus intermedius between them, and the rectus femoris above them. The role of these muscles is to extend the leg from a bent position.

2. Hamstrings - these are found to the rear of the leg and consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. The hamstrings are used to flex the knee in the act of pulling the heel towards the buttocks.

3. Gluteals - these make up the buttocks and consist of the gluteus maximus covering the hip joint and the gluteus medius and minimus on the outside of the hip. The gluteus maximus facilitates hip extension while the other two lift the leg to the side in an action called hip abduction.

4. Hip flexors - these are found opposite the glutes on the front of the pelvis. Consisting of the psoas major and iliacus they raise the leg to the front.

5. Calves - these consist of the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Their role is to extend the foot at the ankle.

About the Author

Rick Mitchell is the creator of the website that provides guidance and information to athletes at all levels of bodybuilding experience. Go to Bodybuilding Advice to learn more about the issues covered in this article.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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